Disturbing audio from a special education classroom in Berkeley County, West Virginia is raising several questions about the conduct of the teachers in the classroom.
Instructor #1: “I ought to back hand you right in your teeth. How is that for anxiety?”
According to Amber Pack, the mother of an eight year old special needs child at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg, West Virginia, that is from a secret audio recording she recovered after planting an audio recording device on her child when she said she didn’t want to back to school.
Instructor #1: “This one I could punch her right in her face.”
A different instructor in the same class.
Instructor #2: “You got to go pee-pee? Pee-pee? Or do you not have to go pee-pee and you just want to go **** *** in a chair?”
Instructor #2: “I’m going to pull your hair until you start crying.”
Instructor #3: “Don’t throw it. Don’t throw. You animal you.”
Instructor #2: “Yep. You wench.”
Instructor #2: “You’re like a pygmy. You’re like a pygmy thing.”
The next day Pack contacted school district and the Martinsburg Police Department.
Amber says that all the recorded audio was from one eight hour school day and that this is what she heard on the first day she hid the recorder in her child’s hair.
Instructor #2: “How your tears dried up so quickly crocodile.”
Instructor #3: “And then she wants to destroy everything in sight.”
Instructor #2: “I’m a knock you out.”
“I couldn’t eat for three days. My stomach. I was so upset. Every time I looked at her I would start crying,” says Amber Pack.
Kasey Murphy, whose six-year old son, Owen, is in the same class, says during a late October parents-teacher conference nobody alerted her to the recording even though Pack had already handed it over to the school district.
“I’ve never heard from the principal. Never heard from the Superintendent. I’ve never heard from any of them,” says Murphy.
It wasn’t until November after Pack posted a clip of the recording on Facebook that Murphy became aware of it.
Instructor #2: “I am gonna beat your butt for sure and Owen you’re gonna get one just just cause.”
“It’s sickening. People don’t even talk to animals like that and they are talking to non-verbal children who don’t understand why they are talking to them like that. They aren’t doing anything wrong,” adds Kasey Murphy.
In the recording, you can hear the instructors tease and refuse to give Owen food.
Instructor #1: “Growl at me. I dare you and you won’t get one. Go ahead. There is nothing says I have to give you a snack. Nothing.”
Instructor #2: “Looks like you get nothing Owen. Ha ha. Sorry buddy.”
The Berkeley County Prosecutor’s Office found no criminal wrongdoing but County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti told both mothers in a letter, “I am not in any way condoning the verbal treatment of your children by the individuals in the classroom.”
Right now, all 3 instructors are on paid administrative leave.
“I don’t understand why you treated her the way you treated her. She didn’t deserve that. No kid does,” says Amber Pack.
The School District, which declined multiple interview requests, is still investigating and says State law prevents it from sharing information.
The Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education just opened its own investigation.
Both of the children mentioned in this article have since been moved to other school districts and are now doing well.