A substitute teacher who had been placed on a leave of absence as part of an ongoing investigation at North Elementary School is no longer employed by the district, Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said Thursday.
The ensuing investigation, and the actions that have followed, stemmed from an incident — or series of incidents — said to have occurred sometime in late January, in a classroom housing five students on the autism spectrum at the school on Chestnut Ridge Road.
North’s principal Natalie Webb, for now, remains on administrative leave, along with vice principal Carol Muniz.
Webb declined comment for this story Thursday.
Two classroom aides, who had faced the same sanction, have since returned to school, Campbell said.
Administrators in Mon Schools’ central office learned of the situation Feb 7, when Adam Henkins, the district’s director of school safety, was informed.
Henkins, in his professional capacity, immediately contacted MECCA 911 to report “the abuse of a child,” as he said in the one-minute call.
“That’s just part of the protocol,” MECCA’s director Jim Smith said.
“We sent an officer out to the school to take a report.”
Henkins’ second call, as per protocol, was to Child Protective Services, the superintendent said.
In the meantime, Campbell said, the district acted as quickly as it could, given the initial circumstances.
“Several days had transpired between the allegations of the incident to when we were first informed,” Campbell said.
“Within minutes, we acted to put everything into motion that we needed to,” he said.
Parents of the students in that classroom were called, Campbell said, and a letter went out to the North community Feb. 14 — a communication obtained by The Dominion Post three days later.
Mon’s Board of Education President Ron Lytle said he appreciates both the urgency, and the measured approach, during this phase.
“This has to be a thorough investigation,” he said.
One parent of a child in that classroom, however, said there’s a difference between being thorough — and stonewalling.
Autumn Wise chided the district and board members during a Feb. 28 meeting, accusing the entities of not being transparent in their dealings with the parents directly informed and with the North community, in general.
She said her 8-year-old son was emotionally traumatized and that she began noticing marked changes in his behavior after Jan. 26.
He became agitated, wouldn’t sleep at night and didn’t want to go to school.
Something was wrong, she said, and he couldn’t tell her.
Wise has yet to return social media messages from The Dominion Post in response to its reporting, but Campbell said she has been able to view surveillance video from her son’s classroom in recent days.
Given the gaps between what may have happened in that classroom — to the call to the district safety official — now mean such methodical steps are more critical than ever, Lytle said.
“We’re not trying to slow anything down,” the BOE president said.
“We’re not trying to withhold information,” he said. “This is a matter of safety for children.”
And right now, Campbell said, it’s also a matter of getting the written report of the investigation, which was just completed by attorney Heather L. Hutchens.
Hutchens, who practices law in Charleston and once served as general counsel of the state Department of Education, wrapped up her work, which included interviews with North staffers, last Friday.
Campbell communicated with her Thursday morning — and he said the report will be on his desk “any day now.”