Florida teacher, aides arrested for abusing children with autism

Northwest Florida
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SHALIMAR, Fla. (WKRG) — Authorities say a teacher and two teacher’s aides are accused of abusing three children with autism at a school in Florida. 

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrested 48-year-old Margaret Wolthers, a teacher at Silver Sands School, and teacher’s aides Diana LaCroix and Carolyn Madison for aggravated child abuse. 

The Sheriff says two of the students were age 8 and one was 10. The allegations came to light after being reported by witnesses to a school resource officer.

Investigators say the suspects intentionally blew a whistle in the ear of a child with a low sensory auditory threshold who wore earphones to protect himself from loud noises. 

The sheriff says the suspects allegedly threatened one of the victim’s with the whistle. He says all three victims were placed individually in a classroom bathroom with the door closed and lights off as punishment.

Classroom aides who witnessed this say the victims would scream and cry. Officials say one of the victims was in the bathroom for 90 minutes.

A guidance counselor at Shalimar Elementary named Sharen Burt is also being charged with failure to report child abuse. Investigators say Burt failed to report that a five-year-old student had been allegedly sexually abused by another student at the school. Investigators say Burt called the Boys and Girls Club and told investigators she thought it happened there and not at the school, but did not notify the state.

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