KINGS MILLS, Ohio - A teacher made a disabled fifth-grader crawl to the bathroom and otherwise abused her at Columbia Elementary School, the girl’s parents say.
Amy and Michael McClellan are suing the Kings Local School District in federal court and claim district officials and police conducted multiple investigations and never told the parents.
On top of that, the school district paid off the teacher and gave her a recommendation to go away, the McClellans' attorney says.
Hannah McClellan has a rare condition called CDG (Congenital disorder of glycosylation), which involves the brain shrinking. She was in Kings Local special education classes four years ago.
The suit claims Hannah and four others were abused by teacher Amanda Kitcho.
"Hannah was a happy, joyful, loving child. Every year she wanted to be her teachers," said Amy McClellan.
That changed in Kitcho’s class, Hannah’s mother said.
"When she was in this class, it did not take her long to say, 'I hate school. I don't want to go there anymore.’ And, she stopped talking," Amy McClellan said.
The lawsuit alleges traumatic abuse and neglect.
Hannah needed a special chair at school, but it became a form of punishment, her father says.
"It appears that the nylon handles were twisted around in an incorrect manner in the back of the chair and duct-taped to physically restrain her," Michael McClellan said.
Hannah also used a walker, but the McClellans claim she was often forced to crawl - the lawsuit says - "like a dying dog to get to the side of the road."
"In terms of the horror factor, the shock factor, this case is dramatic," said the McClellans’ attorney, Chris Finney.
It was Finney who first told the parents about the abuse. He sued to get public records, including nine depositions and three separate investigations.
"The parents were left entirely out of the loop," Finney said.
The initial investigation began in October 2011 after a teacher's aide reported allegations of inappropriate behavior in a multiple-handicapped classroom.
Kitcho was allowed to quietly leave the district, Finney said.
"The school board just paid her to leave and then gave her a glowing letter of recommendation," the attorney said.
Kings Superintendent Valerie Browning emailed the following statement to WCPO:
"At this time the district nor our attorneys have seen this lawsuit. When we do we will be reviewing it with our board of education.”
There has been no comment so far from Kitcho.
The suit seeks money for damages and to cover Hannah's future treatment. She is now in the eighth grade and a cheerleader in Idaho.
Finney also wants rules changed so parents are immediately part of the process when claims of abuse are investigated.
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Bob is highlighting what's working and what needs fixing from preschools to doctoral programs. A Cincinnati native, Bob was previously a regular contributor to the New York Times and was a staff reporter on many beats through 10 years at the Cincinnati Post and Kentucky Post newspapers.