LAS VEGAS NV Nov 25 2010 — The Nye County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a teacher, her aides and the school’s principal on four charges of child abuse.
Police said special education teacher Sarah Jane Hopkins, 52, at Floyd Elementary School in Pahrump had been physically punishing her mentally and physically disabled students for at least the past two years.
Police also said that Hopkins’ aides, Phyllis La Von DuShane, 73, and Kathryn Ann Cummings, 56, also participated in the physical punishment of the children.
An unnamed individual had alerted officers to the abuse, saying the teacher and her aides were using unreasonable physical punishment on the children, which spurred an investigation, police said.
During the investigation, police learned that Floyd Elementary Principal Holly Ann Lepisto, 53, was told of the allegations of Hopkins’ abuse during the last school year but did a poor investigation and then didn’t follow up, police said.
The investigation also revealed that Lepisto may have given the impression that the abuse was tolerated and failed to notify authorities.
Four children were identified in the abuse charges and have disabilities that include visual impairment, cerebral palsy, speech challenges and hearing impairment.
The Pahrump Disability Outreach Program released a letter admonishing the “betrayal of trust,” adding that the charges are “a devastation felt not only by you and your families but by all of us as a community.”