BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WXIN) — Staffers at an elementary school in Brownsburg, Indiana told a 7-year-old student to eat his own vomit and failed to report the incident, investigators say. Now, they are facing criminal charges.
The Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office filed criminal charges against five staff members in connection with the incident in which a special education student was mistreated during lunch. Brownsburg Community School Police learned about the incident on April 12, although it occurred during a lunch period in February, according to the investigation.
The prosecutor’s office identified the staff members and charges as:
- Brown Elementary Life Skills teacher Sara Seymour, 27; neglect of a dependent as a Level 6 felony, and failure to report, a Class B misdemeanor.
- Brown Elementary Life Skills instructional aide Debra Kanipe, 63; neglect of a dependent as a Level 6 felony, and failure to report, a Class B misdemeanor.
- Brown Elementary Life Skills teacher Julie Taylor, 48; failure to report, a Class B misdemeanor.
- Brown Elementary Life Skills instructional aide Kristen Mitchell, 38; failure to report, a Class B Misdemeanor.
- Kids Count registered behavioral technician Megan King, 24; failure to report, a Class B misdemeanor
According to the Brownsburg Police Department, Seymour advised the 7-year-old student that if he vomited, he would have to eat whatever he threw up. The child, on a tray provided by Taylor, indeed vomited, at which point Kanipe provided the child with a spoon.
Seymour and Kanipe stood on either side while the boy ate a portion of the vomit, police said. The child then used paper towels to clean up what remained. Mitchell and King witnessed what happened.
According to the probable cause affidavit, video showed the incident and the involvement of the five staff members. None of them reported what happened. The termination process has already been started for Seymour and Kanipe, the district said.
The others remain on administrative leave, while King is prohibited from being on Brownsburg Community School Corporation property. While the district and police previously said they had reviewed video evidence of the encounter, they had not disclosed the nature of the mistreatment.
Brownsburg Community School Corporation released a message to parents:
On Monday, April 17, we shared with Brown Elementary families and staff that BCSC had moved forward with termination for two staff members after learning of the mistreatment of a Life Skills student in their care at lunch. BCSC has been notified that these two staff members will be charged by the Hendricks County Prosecutor. Two other staff members are also being charged for their roles in failing to report the incident. More details are forthcoming from the Brownsburg Police Department (BPD).
As BPD releases more information about this incident, please know that the BCSC family will continue to be steadfast in our commitment to Brownsburg students, their safety, and their well-being. This horrendous action is not in line with the character of staff and teachers at Brownsburg Schools. The shocking actions of a few does not define the care and concern that Brownsburg teachers and staff show every day.