Franka Persadi said she learned last week that her daughter's former special education teacher sprayed her with Lysol when she passed gas in class. This and other allegations of abuse are detailed in a Fulton County School System report that was never shared with parents.
Repheka Persadi has Downs Syndrome and can't communicate verbally. According to the report, at least six special needs students were abused or neglected by teacher Melanie Pickens. Pickens worked at Hopewell Middle School in Milton from 2004 to 2007.
According to the report, when Repheka "'passed gas' in class, she has been (rather harshly) removed from her seat, taken into the hall, sprayed with Lysol, especially around her bottom, and made to stand in the hallway."
"It's disgraceful. I mean it makes you feel like you're nobody. You don't think people do that," said Persadi.
Persadi and three other families said they believe Fulton County Schools officials should be "held accountable" for not reporting the abuse to parents.
"It's a cover-up" said Ronald Hatcher, whose son, Aaron, was also mentioned in the report.
"It's criminal," said Persadi.
In the report, teachers, nurses and other support staff made statements that they had seen Pickens abuse students and had reported it to then principal Frances M. Boyd. Boyd apparently never forwarded the suspicions of abuse on to the Division of Family and Children Services as required by law.
According to the report, staff reported seeing Pickens hit, kick, step on, restrain, isolate and neglect students. In one case, Pickens allegedly threw a camera at a child's head which caused swelling and bruising.
No one called law enforcement.
In May 2007, a teacher reported an incident involving abuse of another student to DFCS, which prompted the internal investigation.
Pickens was not terminated by the Fulton County School System but allowed to resign in 2007. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission revoked Pickens teaching certification the following year. Boyd also lost her certification.
Pickens denied that she abused the students. She has not been charged with a crime related to the abuse allegations.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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