LANCASTER, Pa. — A Lancaster County couple is fighting for answers after they said their son, who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, was neglected in a Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS) classroom at Blue Ball Elementary School.
For several years, David and Danielle Brenneman always felt that their son Miles, 11, was in good hands in the Eastern Lancaster County School District (ELANCO).
“We’ve had nothing but just the best experience with all of them up until this last year,” said David, Miles’ father.
Everything changed one chilly February afternoon. When Miles got off the school bus, the couple said it appeared he had not been properly cared for that day.
“He didn’t have a hat, a coat, a sweater, gloves. He was soiled halfway up his back and down into his pants,” David added. “In the diaper, it was very clearly at least two, appeared to be three, different movements.”
David emailed every caretaker in Miles’ class to find out what went wrong. FOX43 Reveals that state regulations require child care providers to check a child's diaper at least every two hours and whenever the child indicates discomfort or exhibits behavior that suggests a soiled diaper and change it when the diaper is soiled.
Two paraprofessionals responded to David’s email, raising concerns about the quality of care under Miles’ teacher.
“Both of them noted in more or less words that she rolled him into the changing area and rolled him back out too quickly to have taken him out of the chair,” David told FOX43 Reveals.
Over the phone, the paraprofessionals told FOX43 Reveals they had previously reported multiple concerns to school administrators about the teacher’s standard of care and spoke up on several occasions out of concern for the children in the MDS classroom.
The Brenneman’s said they also heard from other parents with children in the class who detailed incidents of verbal abuse and a child falling off a changing table while the teacher was changing a diaper.
The ELANCO School District launched an investigation into these complaints and have not released the name of the teacher. Ten days later, the paraprofessionals were fired by Substitute Teacher Service, which ELANCO uses as an outside contractor for school support personnel. The Brenneman’s said their terminations look like a cover-up.
“One of the para's still has an email of reporting concerns and issues of neglect two months after the teacher got hired so over a year ago,” said David.
Superintendent Michael Snopkowski told FOX43 Reveals that they are looking into what mistakes were made within the district regarding mandated reporting, but adds that they do not have any influence over Substitute Teacher Service’s decision to fire the paraprofessionals.
Hours after agreeing to do an on-camera interview with FOX43 Reveals, Snopkowski declined.
“The District’s priority and responsibility to our community is to provide the best possible environment for each learner to be successful. Through our fact-finding process, when information becomes available that indicates that outside agencies need to be notified to support our own investigation, we will do so,” Snopkowski said in an email. “Because of our inability to share many of the factual details that may be uncovered, however, there are times that a desire for more information to be shared publicly or privately cannot be fulfilled. That, however, is never an indication of the District ignoring a concern or covering up the facts.”
The Brenneman’s have since filed a ChildLine report and moved Miles into a different class, with a different teacher. They still have a bad feeling about the district’s handling of their concerns and said the paraprofessionals’ firings send the wrong message.
“The facts we know really give a bad impression,” David said. “What it looks like is really discouraging for anybody who wants to stand up to report an issue.”
FOX43 Reveals reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Education regarding the complaints about the MDS teacher at Blue Ball Elementary School.
A department spokesperson said PDE cannot comment on the status of any investigation or allegations and that complaints and investigations under the Educator Discipline Act are confidential unless or until public discipline is imposed.
The teacher is still employed at Blue Ball Elementary.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 or click here to report electronically.
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