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WV AG Implicates Two Administrators, School System in Berkeley Heights Abuse Case

May 7th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey sought to add claims Tuesday against a school principal, deputy superintendent and the Berkeley County Board of Education as part of a continued effort to hold accountable anyone who threatens to assault an individual because of his or her disability.
The Attorney General also referred the matter for potential criminal prosecution alleging violation of the state’s duty to report suspected abuse, a misdemeanor offense.
Together, the moves mark a significant development in a lawsuit that initially accused a teacher and two aides of verbally assaulting two nonverbal autistic children. It all stems from conduct captured as part of a parent’s secret recording in November 2018 at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg.
“School administrators must be held to a higher standard, one that protects our children and vigorously responds to allegations of abuse,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Today’s actions reaffirm our commitment to protect the most vulnerable of our society, especially children.” 
The complaint alleges special education teacher Christina Lester and two aides, June Yurish and Kristin Douty, verbally assaulted the autistic students by threatening each with physical violence.
The amended charges further allege that Berkeley Heights Principal Amber Boeckmann and Berkeley County Deputy Superintendent Margaret F. Kursey actively tried to hinder the investigation and obscure evidence with a flawed investigation, an order to destroy the recording and a failure to report the matter to Child Protective Services.
The amended complaint adds the Berkeley County Board of Education as a sixth defendant contending that it bears responsibility because those committing the allegations did so during the course of their employment with the board.
The Attorney General seeks a court order declaring that Lester, Yurish, Douty, Boeckmann, Kursey and the Berkeley County Board of Education violated the state’s Human Rights Act. The complaint additionally seeks a $5,000 civil penalty for each violation and an injunction to block the individual defendants from having any contact with the students in question or their family members.
The amended complaint was filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court as part of the Attorney General’s exclusive authority to seek an injunction against any person who violates the state’s Human Rights Act.


One Response to “WV AG Implicates Two Administrators, School System in Berkeley Heights Abuse Case”

  1. May 10, 2019 at 10:48 am, Salia said:

    Federal legislation provides guidance to States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. ยง 5106g), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

    “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or

    “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

    The school accepts FEDERAL and STATE funds, thus, they violated federal law.


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