Two Montana Teacher's Aides Charged With Abuse of Special Needs Students

Maria Bubb, a substitute teacher in Garrett's classroom in October and November of 2008, said in the court documents that the staff was "mean and degrading" to Garrett, and that Kallies would "point her finger in his face and scream at him."

Other teachers testified that they saw Garrett's head held under running water and witnessed him being forced to sit in his feces for hours, not just a few minutes, as the teacher's aides suggest.

Other Families Come Forward

Randy Tarum, the attorney representing the Schillings, said that since news of the charges against Parish and Kallies were made public, several other families in the school district who have children with special needs have come forward with claims of alleged abuse, some against the same two teacher's aides.

"I have about 14 other families who have kids who have been subjected, in one way or another, to different schools in the district," Tarum said of the allegations. "The abuse comes in varying degrees, and not every child says they were tortured."

Tarum said that one family said their child was slapped or that behavior devices such as restraints were often misused in special education classrooms. One mother said that she noticed that her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was missing chunks of hair on her head, a result of what she believes was the punishment of getting dragged across the floor, Tarum said, declining to say if the charged teacher's aides were involved in either of these alleged incidents.

So far, Tarum said, he has not received any feedback from the school district. Repeated calls and messages left for the school district's attorney, Jean Faure, were not immediately returned.

Tarum said that while the criminal case brought forth by the state is proceeding, he is working to change the way the school system treats special education students before filing a lawsuit on behalf of his clients.

"We're trying to work with the school district," Tarum said. "We're asking them to identify the children that may have been in contact with these teachers."

Tarum has also requested that school district officials bring in outside experts to counsel them on how they can improve the district's special education program.

"A lawsuit is not a great fix for the system, and we're trying to fix the system," Tarum said.

As for Garrett, his mother said that while he has since been re-enrolled in a different special education program at an area high school, he is still suffering from the alleged abuse he endured at North Middle School.

"Garrett lives in a world of fear," she said. "He doesn't understand that when we take him to new places, people won't abuse him.

"He's a great kid. He loves to swing outside and play with his toys with his brother," she said. "He's a really wonderful, outgoing kid and it's just been devastating to see what's happening to him."

Schilling said she is worried that Garrett's younger brother, Brandon, who also has Fragile X syndrome, could go through a similar experience if the school system is not improved.

"I trusted those teachers, I never in a million years thought this would happen," Schilling said of the allegations. "If I don't change things now this could all happen to Brandon, too."

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