NewsCovering America


Disturbing audio recording made inside an elementary school classroom in West Virginia

Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 19:26:46-04

BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (WJLA) — — A hidden recording device in a special education classroom is raising alarming questions about what went on inside a classroom at an elementary school in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

A warning: What you are about to read is disturbing.

Instructor #1: "I ought to backhand you right in your teeth. How is that for anxiety?"

According to parents, that's a secret audio recording of an instructor talking to children inside a special education class at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Amber Pack sent her 8-year-old daughter to class with a recording device after the child didn't want to go back to school.

Instructor #1: "This one I could punch her right in her face."

A different instructor in the same class.

Instructor #2: "You got to go pee-pee? Pee-pee? Or do you not have to go pee-pee and you just want to go **** *** in a chair?"

There's more:

Instructor #2: "I'm going to pull your hair until you start crying."

Instructor #3: "Don't throw it. Don't throw. You animal you."

Instructor #2: "Yep. You wench."

Instructor #2: "You're like a pygmy. You're like a pygmy thing."

The next day Pack alerted the school district and the Martinsburg Police Department.

"Do you think this has been going on for a while?” I-Team reporter Scott Taylor asked.

"Yes. That was the first day I put the recorder in her hair,” Amber Pack said.

"One day you recorded all of this?" Taylor asked.

"One day. Eight hours,” Pack said.

You can hear the instructors sometimes singing songs and reading stories to students and other times:

Instructor #2: “How your tears dried up so quickly, crocodile.”

Instructor #3: “And then she wants to destroy everything in sight.”

Instructor #2: "I'm a knock you out."

"I couldn't eat for three days. My stomach. I was so upset. Every time I looked at her I would start crying,” Pack said.

Kasey Murphy whose 6-year old son Owen is in the same class said during a late October parents-teacher conference nobody alerted her to the recording, even though Pack had already handed it over to the school district.

"I've never heard from the principal. Never heard from the Superintendent. I've never heard from any of them,” Murphy said.

It wasn't until November after Pack posted a clip of the recording on Facebook that Murphy became aware of it.

Instructor #2: "I am gonna beat your butt for sure and Owen, you're gonna get one just cause."

"It's sickening," Murphy said. "People don't even talk to animals like that and they are talking to non-verbal children who don't understand why they are talking to them like that. They aren't doing anything wrong."

On the recording, you can hear the instructors tease and refuse to give Owen food.

Instructor #1: "Growl at me. I dare you and you won't get one. Go ahead. There is nothing says I have to give you a snack. Nothing."

Instructor #2: "Looks like you get nothing Owen. Ha ha. Sorry buddy."

The Berkeley County Prosecutor's Office found no criminal wrong doing but County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti told both mothers in a letter, “I am not in any way condoning the verbal treatment of your children by the individuals in the classroom.”

Right now, all three instructors are on paid administrative leave.

"I don't understand why you treated her the way you treated her. She didn't deserve that. No kid does," Pack said.

The School District, which declined multiple interview requests, is still investigating and says state law prevents it from sharing information.

The Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education just opened its own investigation.

Only one of the three instructors has gotten back to us. She has no comment.

Both students mentioned in our investigation are now in different schools. Owen transferred to a new School District. Parents of both students tell ABC7 News the children are very happy in their new classrooms.

This story is courtesy of our ABC affiliate, WJLA in West Virginia.