Friday, March 1, 2013
A teacher at Summerville Montessori School and the school director stand charged in connection with an allegation of child abuse that occurred Feb. 12.
Elizabeth Cain, director of the school and Lystra Verba, were both arrested Friday, according to Sam Richardson, Chief Deputy of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.
Cain is charged with one of failing to report child abuse/neglect;Verba is charged with two counts of cruelty to Children, Richardson said.
Both are currently housed in the Dorchester County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing, Richardson said.
The charges stem from an investigation into an report made February 8 by a teacher’s assistant who said she had witnessed a teacher at the school commit several questionable acts, according to a DCSO incident report. These acts included locking two upset students in a dark bathroom and making them sit on the floor. The assistant also reported seeing the teacher force a child to eat. She further stated that she saw the teacher on at least two occasions place duct tape over another child’s mouth and tell the child to “shut up.”
The assistant said she reported the incident to the school director but nothing ever came of it, according to the report.
Officers did check with DSS to see if there have been any other allegations against the teacher; DSS stated there were no such reports against that teacher, according to the report.
According to the report, an officer also spoke to the mother of a student in Verba’s class, who told the officer she witnessed her child take a piece of packing tape and place it over a younger siblings mouth and angrily exclaim, “Now you be quiet.”
The parent also stated that the child had told her that her teacher had hit the child, according to the report.
In a statement released February 13, Cain said that the school was cooperating with the investigation and wanted to reassure parents that the safety of the children was the school’s concern. The statement also noted that the teacher involved had been suspended without pay immediately.
The investigation continues.