West Virginia Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Berkeley Schools files, drops lawsuit against mother who recorded alleged abuse

By Kyla Asbury | May 4, 2019

MARTINSBURG — The Berkeley County Board of Education filed and dropped a lawsuit against the mother of a special-needs student who recorded audio of abuse her child allegedly suffered at the hands of her teachers.

Amber Pack, who sued the school district and its employees in February, was the only plaintiff in the board’s complaint, which was filed on April 25 in Berkeley Circuit Court. The board withdrew the complaint on April 30.

In its complaint, the board argued that the recording Pack made in her daughter’s classroom at Berkeley Heights Elementary School was done so without school staff members’ knowledge, which violated state and federal wiretapping laws. The board wanted to prevent the audio recording from being used in court, as well as in public, because of how it was obtained.

The board released a statement May 3, claiming that it had taken action to prevent the educators involved from ever working with county schools again and to prevent them from appealing through the public employee's grievance process, which had the possibility of resulting in successful appeals, thereby forcing the board to put them back into county schools.

"Additionally, all three of these individuals were reported to the State Superintendent for their misconduct for whatever actions he deemed appropriate," the statement reads.

The school board said it wanted a "safe and supportive educational environment.

"No student should ever be harassed, harmed, or abused in any way," according to the statement. "The Board apologizes for its former employees’ actions and any distress or harm they may have caused."

The statement did not comment directly on the litigation because their policy is not to comment directly on pending litigation.

"We are sensitive to the concern and understandable tension this incident has created within our schools and throughout our community," the statement read. "Every student in Berkeley County deserves a safe and supportive educational environment. We must accept nothing less. Although the Board of Education is a policy-making body, it is doing everything within its statutorily-delegated power to ensure students’ safety and success. No student should ever be harassed, harmed, or abused in any way. The Board apologizes for its former employees’ actions and any distress or harm they may have caused."

Back in February, Pack alleged that when she heard the recording, there were threats of punching her daughter in the face threats to pull her hair until she starts crying; threats to backhand her; namecalling; and requests that her daughter massage the teacher and the aides' feet.

Pack claimed on Oct. 4, she hid the recording device in her daughter's hair to find one why her daughter was so upset at school. Pack's daughter was taught by Christina Lester. and two aides, Kristin Douty and June Yurish.

Pack's attorney, Ben Salago, did not respond to requests for comment.

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Organizations in this Story

Berkeley Circuit Court