Teacher, aides punished children with autism using dark bathroom, loud whistle, investigators say

Teacher, aides punished children with autism using dark bathroom, loud whistle, investigators say

OKALOOSA COUNTY, FL (WJHG/WECP/Gray News) - A Florida teacher and two aides are accused of abusing three children with autism by shutting them inside a dark bathroom and blowing a whistle in one’s ear, WJHP and WECP report.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley said Monday that Margaret Wolthers, a 48-year-old teacher at Silver Sands School, and two aides, Diana LaCroix and Carolyn Madison, were investigated after a witness reported them to the school resource officer.

Investigators say on different occasions Wolthers and the aides "intentionally and maliciously” blew a whistle into the ear of a child with a low sensory auditory threshold, who wore earphones to protect him from loud noises. They also allegedly threatened him with the whistle.

In addition, investigators say multiple children, two 8-year-olds and a 10-year-old, were individually and on separate occasions shut in the classroom bathroom with the door closed and lights off as punishment for misbehavior.

Witnesses say the children would scream and cry when put in the bathroom, and one of them was left inside for an hour and a half.

The alleged incidents took place between Sept. 1 and Nov. 14, 2018.

All three suspects were charged with aggravated child abuse.

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