Autistic students “scream and cry” while Florida teachers lock them in dark room and torture them with whistles

Parents can only hope that when they are sending their child to school, their kids will be in safe hands and would be spending their day in an environment where they feel comfortable. However, an incident that took place in Florida can send shivers down the spine of any parent for just how evil the teachers who were supposed to look after their kids were.

The terrible incident occurred at Silver Sands School in Fort Walton Beach, which is close to Destin. There, a teacher named Margaret Wolthers and two teacher’s aides, Diana LaCroix and Carolyn Madison have been accused of having abused three children with autism. And to make things worse, it was not just a one-off incident.

The three educators were reported to have carried out abusive acts repeatedly between between the months fo Septeber 1, 2018 to November 14, 2018, as reported by ABC13.

Please join us in congratulating our teacher of the year, Mrs. Maggie Downs! We are so proud and thankful to have you on our school team!

Posted by Silver Sands School on Monday, 6 November 2017

The suspects would allegedly lock the differently-abled children up in a dark bathroom, or they would deliberately blow a whistle into the ear of an autistic child who was wearing headphones to protect himself from loud noises due to his low sensory auditory threshold, according to investigators.

Not only would the teachers use the whistle as a frightening threat for the child, but they would also dole out a harsh punishment for the children for misbehavior, and this included shutting them up in the classroom bathroom and turning the lights off. Of the three children who suffered at the hands of these teachers, two were 8 years old while the third was 10.

The helpless children were left screaming and crying when they were locked up in the bathroom, according to witness accounts from the classroom aides. It was also noted that one of the children was left in the bathroom for a lengthy duration.

At a press conference was addressed by Okaloosa County Sheriff, Larry Ashley and School Superintendent, Marcus Chambers, some of the details regarding the case were revealed. “Classroom aides who witnessed the incidents say the victims would scream and cry when placed in the bathroom, and that one was contained for up to 90 minutes,” said Larry, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

The three women, Margaret, Diana, and Carolyn faced charges of aggravated abuse, and they were arrested in January 2019.

“We in the School District will not tolerate actions like these nor inaction where it impacts the health, welfare and safety of our students,” said Marcus at the press conference, according to Northwest Florida Daily News.

The sheriff also confirmed at the press conference that Margaret was the wife of an Okaloosa County deputy and added that the teachers “considered it an acceptable practice” to resort to the whistle or to confinement to punish the children, despite their autism. Larry said, “This was an incident where at least in the Silver Sands incident where they considered it an acceptable practice so it had been going on for some time,” as quoted by Fox 10.

In April 2019, it was reported that the three Silver Sands employees would face lighter charges. After initially facing a serious charge of aggravated child abuse in January 2019, they were given new charges of third-degree felonies, as reported by the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Steve Horton, the assistant superintendent of the Okaloosa County School District revealed that the three teachers were initially placed on administrative leave after the abuse was reported. However, after the first board meeting took place on February 11, following their arrests in late January, they were suspended.

Steve said about the situation, “These folks are not in our schools, are not interacting with students. In general, when employees are suspended without pay and there are criminal charges out there, we typically have to wait for the outcome of those proceedings before we do anything final.