The parents of seven emotional support students in the Scranton School District claim a former teacher abused their children and possibly others, according to court records.
Larry Moran Sr., attorney for the parents, said the teacher, Maggie McAndrew, physically, emotionally and verbally abused students in her class at the Charles Sumner Elementary School during the 2013-14 school year.
Ms. McAndrew, 28, was hired as a special education teacher in 2011. She surrendered her teaching certificate in June based on allegations she physically and verbally abused at least two students, according to the state Department of Education.
Ms. McAndrew and Scranton School District Superintendent Alexis Kirijan, Ed.D., declined to comment.
It is not clear whether a criminal investigation was conducted. Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano referred questions to Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon, who said he could not comment. Court records show no criminal charges were ever filed against Ms. McAndrew.
Mr. Moran initiated the lawsuit against the district this week by filing a writ of summons in Lackawanna County Court. The document puts a defendant on notice that a lawsuit was filed but does not contain specific allegations. The claims against Ms. McAndrew, who is not named as a defendant, are contained in a separate court document Mr. Moran filed that seeks to compel the district to release documents.
Mr. Moran said his law firm investigated the case for about 1½ years. The firm developed evidence that shows Ms. McAndrew abused his clients who have various developmental disabilities and ranged in age from 5 to 11 at the time of the incidents, Mr. Moran said.
Attempts to obtain additional evidence have been thwarted by the school district, however, which has refused to provide certain documents, he said.
“We’ve been stonewalled in getting the full truth,” Mr. Moran said. “Many witnesses have refused to cooperate with our investigators and authorities remain tight-lipped.”
That led him to file the court action to compel the district to provide various information, including reports on any disciplinary action taken against Ms. McAndrew and records that would reveal if there was a criminal probe, he said.
He said his firm was first tipped to the abuse by a Scranton school district employee. Other people from outside agencies that provide support services for special needs students also provided information, but they have stopped cooperating.
“We have the names of witnesses. They effectively said we knew what was going on … we want to be helpful, but if you want me to talk you need to subpoena me,” he said.
The district will have an opportunity to respond to the motion to compel. A judge will issue a ruling at a later date.
Sarah Hofius Hall, staff writer, contributed to this story
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