A Letter to the West Virginia Department of Education
My name is Owen.
I am 7 years old and a first grader at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Well, I was, but now I’m at a new school.
I was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease as a baby and I also have non-verbal autism. I’ve been in the same classroom with kids with like me for two years.
I had three teachers: Christina Lester, June Yurish and Kristin Douty. My mom liked that they were always hugging and loving on me.
It was a big fat lie.
Last year, my mom took me to the neurologist to see why I was hitting and spitting on her, but she said it may just be my normal.
I was trying to tell her about how my teachers hit me, but I couldn’t.
Since I started my new school, I hug and kiss my mom every day. I was worried she may hurt me like my teachers. Miss Douty got a teaching award last year and I have never understood why.
My friend Adri’s mom recorded our teachers being mean to us and told the principal, Amber Boeckman. She listened to the recording and told Adri’s mom that the teachers weren’t talking about her.
What about me?
Adri stopped coming to school. I went, no one told my mom about my being strapped to my potty chair or my teachers threatening to hit me.
After the school heard the mean, my mom had an IEP meeting. My coordinator, Karen Petrucci, told my mom, “This is the safest classroom for Owen to be.” Why did she not tell my mom the truth?
The Superintendent of Berkeley County Schools, Manny Arvon, said, “I learned of the incident in early October and was greatly concerned.” Why didn’t he tell my mom or help me get away? He let three evil people pretend to take care of me for another month.
My teachers would tell my mom that I was so protective of the other kids. I tried to shield them from the hate, but I’m only seven.
No one has been fired. My teachers resigned and I worry where they’ll go.
My principal and superintendent must hate kids, at least, ones with special needs.