The parent of a mentally challenged 7-year-old has filed a preliminary civil claim in advance of a lawsuit against the Fresno Unified School District and a first-grade teacher for allegedly locking her daughter in a makeshift cage. According to the Fresno Bee, the mother, Ledelldra Brooks, claims to have discovered the abuse in late May when she made an unannounced visit to Viking Elementary School and found her daughter in the cage, wearing a soiled diaper.
The child, who is intellectually disabled and suffers from a seizure disorder, was allegedly found on May 27 “isolated from her classmates in a locked enclosure made from a toddler gate and a crib gate attached to bookshelves.”
The teacher, Teresa MonPere, was immediately placed on administrative leave and has since left the school to teach elsewhere. A spokeswoman for the district said on Friday that the principal, Christie Yang, and Assistant Superintendent for Special Special Education Cheryl Hunt have been barred from commenting publicly pending the legal action.
The spokeswoman, Micheline Golden, said only:
We take these situations very seriously. We conducted a thorough investigation consistent with our personnel procedures. I can’t share any outcome of that investigation because it is a personnel issue. Fresno Unified is committed to providing the best education possible for our special education students and being their advocates.
Brooks’s daughter was one of seven special needs students in the class.
Apart from the civil claim, which seeks upward of $50,000 in as-yet-undetermined medical expenses arising out of the abusive situation, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office is looking into filing a charge of misdemeanor child abuse against the school and teacher. No charges have been filed so far, nor has there been an arrest according to Kathy Ochinero, administrative secretary for the DA’s office.”