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By Jessie Shaffer
CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – We heard the shocking audio recordings in early February. Statements like, “I ought to back hand you right in your teeth. How is that for anxiety? You’re like a pygmy. You’re like a pygmy thing.”
The attorney representing a mother of a student in that Martinsburg special needs class says the insults and threats are just the tip of the iceberg.
“Adrianna was coming home with bruises, which first alerted mom,” Ben Salango, of Preston and Salango said Tuesday. “And then you can actually hear not just the verbal abuse, but what we believe to be physical abuse as well- loud smacks followed by children crying.”
Salango is representing Amber Pack, who we heard from several weeks ago. Pack filed a civil suit last week. The defendents in the case, according to the complaint, are listed as the Berkeley County Board of Education, Christina Lester (teacher), June Yurish (aide), Kristin Douty (aide), and Amber Boeckmann (principal).
Pack said she placed an audio recording device in her eight-year-old, non-verbal daughter’s hair in early October after she noticed bruises on her arms.
Adrianna, that little girl, was also refusing to go to school, she said. Pack claims the school system did nothing until those audio recordings went viral the next month.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t for the media attention, those teachers would still be there today,” Salango said.
Thankfully, he said, they aren’t right now. But it’s his belief, and his client’s belief, that so much more could have been done.
“Every opportuninty that the school board had to do the right thing, they utterly failed,” he said. “They didn’t immediately put the teachers off on suspension, And then, when they did, it was paid administrative leave. And then, they permitted them to resign rather than terminating them.”
He added, filing a civil suit, at this point, is the only option Pack has. “Because the school board didn’t do the right thing and the prosecutor, at this point, has decided not to prosecute.”
Moving forward, Salango said 8-year-old Adrianna is improving every day thanks to the love and support of her family and friends.
The county’s superintendent has resigned and an interim has taken his place.
According to the parents of students who were in that classroom, the children are now in new classes with new teachers, and are doing very well.
Stay with 13 News for more on this developing story.