Two teacher's aides face felony charges stemming from allegations that they abused special needs students in their Montana middle school classroom.
Julie Ann Parish and Kristina Marie Kallies are each charged with one felony count of assault on a minor and one misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of children after the Great Falls Police Department investigated the alleged December abuse of student Garrett Schilling, then 13.
The aides are accused of holding Schilling's head under running water after he fell asleep in class, forcing him to sit in his soiled pants for hours and making him eat his own vomit when he got sick at Great Falls' North Middle School.
Schilling's mother, Tifonie Schilling, said her son, now 14, has Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that leaves him with limited means of communication and results in his showing symptoms often associated with autism.
Because of this, Schilling said, her son was never able to tell her about the brutal treatment he was allegedly receiving at the hands of his own teacher's aides, which they have denied.
"If the teachers thought Garrett was being lazy or falling asleep at his desk, they forcibly took my son to the kitchen sink in the room and forced his head under the water while he was screaming for his mother," Schilling said of the alleged incidents. "And if he had an accident in his pants he was made to sit in it all day. They would taunt him and say, 'You stink like a baby.'
"They were waterboarding my son," Schilling said, adding that she learned of the alleged abuse in April 2008, when a teacher's aide with whom she was friendly sent her an e-mail warning her of Garrett's teacher's aides.
"Garrett doesn't have the verbal skills to tell me what's happening," Schilling said. "He can tell me if he wants a drink or an apple, but he can't have a back and forth conversation with me. I can never just ask him how his day at school was."
Parish appeared in Cascade County District Court Monday and was released on $5,000 bail. Kallies is returning from Texas to face charges. Neither Parish or Kallies have entered formal pleas.
A lawyer for Kallies has not yet been identified, but Daniel Donavan, the attorney representing Parish, declined to comment on the allegations.
Parish and Kallies are no longer teaching in the district schools, according to local media reports.
But, according to court documents, Parish and Kallies both denied abusing Garrett, who attended the school from the fall of 2008 until April 2009, when his mother pulled him out.
Parish said that while she would "occasionally splash water in [Garrett's] face to wake him up," she "normally used a wet washcloth," according to the court documents.
She added that she felt they cleaned Garrett up "appropriately" and never let him remain in his soiled pants for more than a short time, sometimes until the next restroom break.
Kallies, according to the court documents, did admit to pouring water over the back of Garrett's head but said she used her "cupped hands as a cup" and never "held his head under the faucet."
But substitute teachers, as well as the teacher's aide who first informed Schilling that she suspecting something was going on in her son's classroom, said in the court documents that they'd witnessed firsthand the alleged abuse.