BURLESON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Parents of toddlers who may have been abused by teachers in a special education classroom said the incident illustrates the need for cameras to protect both students and instructors.
Burleson police arrested the two former educators the day before Thanksgiving, charging them each with three counts of assault against an elderly or disabled individual.
The alleged abuse included covering the mouths of children to silence cries, to the point they struggled to breath.
Parents also said unexplained scratches and bruises had stopped once their children were in a different classroom.
"I always assumed it was another student," Giulia Herndon said about marks on her son Archer when he went to school for the first time last April. "We believe they targeted the kids that were non-verbal."
A letter from Candice Cook, the principal at Norwood Elementary, said she was notified September 30 that Jeanna Mangus and Holly Monroe were using improper restraints in the class.
The instructors were immediately removed from the classroom, and two parents who spoke with CBS 11 said they learned about the allegation the next week.
Cheyenne Oakley's son Sutton has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She said someone at the school demonstrated for her how her son's cries were quieted in the class.
"She kind of put his hand over his mouth, and was showing me what it looked like, and then made a suction noise from the hand to the mouth of what it sounded like of him like gasping for air," she said.
Before that revelation, Oakley said a therapist had been trying to determine why the 3-year-old had started flinching when approached. They even thought he might be having vision issues.
Herndon said her son was flinching as well, but with no cameras in the classroom, there was no way to review what may have been happening.
"I believe it should be mandated in every special needs class, for the safety of the kids, and not only the kids but the teachers as well," she said.
Her son has returned to school now, in a classroom with cameras, and is no longer protesting the daily routine, even begging for his backpack.
Oakley's son still hasn't returned.
He has stopped flinching but still struggles being in a new environment without his mother.
"I wish that (cameras) was something that was mandatory everywhere for children," Oakley said. "Who just can't speak up for themselves."
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