Last week, two former North Texas teachers were arrested by Burleson police for allegedly abusing toddlers with special needs.
Cheyenne Oakley, whose three-year-old son Sutton was one of the children allegedly mishandled, spoke to WFAA about the incident.
“They were covering Sutton’s mouth when he would cry,” Oakley explained.
According to WFAA, the principal of Norwood Environmental Science Academy, Candice Cook, sent a letter to parents in October that informed them of the alleged abuse from two former educators inside one of the classrooms for special needs students.
“It hurts my heart,” Oakley told WFAA.
There were allegedly improper restraints used on the children that violated CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) techniques.
Cook informed Oakley that her son had been allegedly mishandled by his two instructors, Jeanna Mangus and Holly Monroe, News 4 reported. According to Cook, the instructors would cover his mouth to keep him quiet.
“She kind of put his hand over his mouth, and was showing me what it looked like, and then made a suction noise from the hand to the mouth of what it sounded like of him like gasping for air,” Oakley told News 4.
Gloria Vigil, another parent, told WFAA that her son Noah is non-verbal, and she had noticed a change in his behavior after being placed in Mangus and Monroe’s classroom.
“I noticed him having scratches and bruises almost every day,” Vigil explained. “Every time we’d pick him up, he’d cry. When we’d go to the school, he would see the street we turn on and he would start to cry.”
According to News 4, parents had suspected the alleged abuse starting last year, but there were no cameras in the classroom, and the kids could not speak for themselves.
Another parent, Giulia Herndon, told WFAA that Cook learned Monroe would pinch the children under their arms. She thinks her son Archer was one of the children hurt in the classroom.
Herndon said, “He had claw mark indentations near the back of his armpit, and that is where I broke down in tears and realized there’s a possibility she [Monroe] had done it to him.”
While Sutton has not returned to the classroom, WFAA reported that Noah and Archer are back in class with different teachers. Cameras have also been installed in the classrooms, which Herndon thinks will be a big help moving forward.
“I believe it should be mandated in every special needs class, for the safety of the kids, and not only the kids but the teachers as well,” she told News 4.
The parents who spoke to News 4 said they thought these former educators targeted the special needs students because they were non-verbal and could not articulate what was happening to them.
Mangus and Monroe were arrested on three charges of assault against a disabled individual, but according to Burleson police, they have since made bail.
In one of the letters that Cook sent out to parents, she called the alleged behavior “unacceptable.”
Cook also added that she “will always act swiftly to ensure children enjoy the best learning environment possible.”