A Cincinnati-area special education teacher duct-taped one student to a chair and forced another to crawl to the bathroom after taking way her walker, according to a lawsuit filed last month by five students and their parents.
A former employee at Columbia Elementary confirmed those claims Thursday on a radio appearance on WLW-AM, saying that former teacher Amanda Kitcho screamed at students in the overcrowded classroom and took away their lunches.
The suit claims Kitcho, who has resigned, intentionally provoked and startled the handicapped children into escalating behavior, threw their possessions into the trash, lied to them, and kept them walled in behind dividers.
Kitcho told one student, who suffers from congenital disorders of glycosylation and cerebellar hypoplasia, she hated her and took away her walker.
“An aide in Kitcho’s classroom reported that Kitcho stated, with respect to [the student] that, ‘She’s crawling around. I’m not putting her in that damn thing every time she’s got to move from center to center. She can crawl,’” the suit claims.
The former employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, told the radio station that the abuse was mind-boggling and appalling.
She said other teachers alerted Kings Mills School District administrators, but they did nothing.
“They were told, ‘She knows what she’s doing, do your job,’” the whistleblower said.
She said officials at the elementary school and the school district were notified of Kitcho’s behavior, and the superintendent issued a statement in response.
“We are aware of the accusation made by our employee when the facts of the case come out, it will be clear that she exaggerated some facts and in some cases, reported things inaccurately and spoke to things she does not have the facts about,” said Valerie Browning, Kings Mills superintendent. “Because there is pending litigation I can’t speak to the specifics of the case.”
The 27-page lawsuit claims most of the abuse was directed at the girl who used a walker and who Kitcho regularly belted to her support chair in a locked bathroom as punishment.
The students’ parents said two teacher’s aides notified school officials about the abuse but nothing was done for seven months, until they worried the claims would be reported by the media.
The school notified the Warren County sheriff’s office, which conducted an investigation but did not charge Kitcho, who then reached a settlement with Kings Mills schools to resign with severance pay and a letter of recommendation for another job.
The parents said they learned about the abuse after a “citizen activist” requested and eventually received public records of the investigation.
The suit is seeking damages and punitive damages for a variety of charges, including assault, battery, and violation of due process rights.
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