WV Middle School teacher, two aides accused of battery of two special needs students

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A teacher and two aides from Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston have been accused of battery of two special needs students in multiple civil complaints, and one of the aides is currently facing criminal charges for battery.

Severe/profound teacher Anthony Wilson and his aides Walter Pannell and Lilliana Branham, along with the Kanawha County Board of Education were named in two civil complaints filed by guardians of two students who attended Horace Mann Middle School. One child (T.R.) has Cornelia DeLange Syndrome, and the other child (N.H.) has autism, ADHD and other mental disabilities. Both are nonverbal and need assistance with basic daily activities.

A criminal complaint has been filed in the Magistrate Court of Kanawha County against Branham, charging her with battery. The complaint cites video footage from the school which revealed Branham grabbing T.R. and slapping the child multiple times.

According to T.R.’s complaint, on May 12, the child’s guardian received a telephone call from Horace Mann Middle School and Child Protective Services saying that there had been an incident at the school involving the child.

The child’s guardian is said to have viewed a surveillance video of T.R. being physically and verbally abused by all three defendants. The complaint alleges abuse such as striking the child in her face, arm, buttocks, and leg as well as screaming, shouting, and mocking her.

In the complaint filed on behalf of N.H. says that the child was taken to the emergency room on May 4 because he was “limping and having difficulty walking.” The complaint goes on to say that his mother was told by Anthony Wilson that her son had fallen over a bean bag in the classroom. Upon viewing video surveillance of the classroom from that day, the complainant’s mother says that she saw defendants “forcefully” push N.H. onto a bean bag, which caused his right leg to twist, severely injuring his right knee.

The complaint says that the defendants did not render aid to the visibly injured child and that Wilson “aggressively pushed him from behind” as he limped and struggled to walk. Hours after the injury occurred, the defendants contacted the school nurse to examine N.H., the complaint says. During that time, the defendants are said to have made material misrepresentations to the nurse about the injury incident.

The complaint also alleges that the defendants “recklessly and maliciously” restrained the child and confined him to a bean bag chair as they threatened him with physical and emotional abuse. The defendants are alleged to have forced N.H. to remain in the chair, even denying him bathroom breaks. The child ended up urinating on himself, according to the complaint.

In a statement, the Kanawha County School Department said, “The health and safety of our students is our top priority. We are aware of the situation and are following our policies and procedures on reporting, as well as working with law enforcement. We are not able to comment on any personnel matters.”  

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