Parents react to abuse allegations inside the Okaloosa County School District

Northwest Florida
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OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Parents with children inside the Okaloosa County District are reacting to the arrest of four staff members.

Silver Sands teacher Margeret Wolthers and her two teacher’s aides Diana LaCroix and Carolyn Madison are accused of abusing three autistic children last fall. They were all arrested on Monday and the Okaloosa County Sheriff held a press conference.

Hannah Melvin has a 4-year-old son entering the district next year, and says she’s worked with kids at Silver Sands years ago, and knew Wolthers.

“I’m pretty positive I’ve met her and ran into her,” Melvin said. “It’s just shocking to me in a school that’s the only place for special needs or anything like that and those kids are so incredibly sensitive.”

At Shalimar Elementary, guidance counselor Sharon Bert was arrested for allegedly not reporting the sexual abuse of a 5-year-old at the school. Paul Thorp says he has two kids in the district and he’s glad there’s justice.

“I’m glad the board of education is handling the matter and I’m excited about the new leadership,” Thorp said.

This comes less than two weeks after the former superintendent Mary Beth Jackson was suspended by the Governor for how she handled the Noah Perillo case. Perillo’s father says his then 6-year-old son was abused by a teacher at Kenwood Elementary. 

Eric Olsen says he has a daughter in the district and can not believe this keeps happening.

“I’m highly disappointed in our schools,” Olsen said. “For someone to abuse and autistic child, they do not deserve to be out in public.”

The new superintendent Marcus Chambers wanted to assure parents they are taking the allegations very seriously.

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