Worried Mom Hid Recording Device in Nonverbal Girl's Hair & Caught Teachers Horribly Abusing Her

Amber Pack
ABC7 WJLA

A teacher and two classroom aides have been arrested after a student's mother hid a recording device in her daughter's hair and filmed the adults allegedly verbally abusing not just her daughter but other students. According to CNN, Amber Pack of Berkley County, West Virginia, grew concerned when her daughter, who has autism, came home with mysterious bruises. So she acted on her suspicions, and wound up with some seriously disturbing recordings.

  • Pack's daughter Adri is nonverbal, so she was unable to communicate that anything was wrong. That's when mother's intuition took over.

    When the 6-year-old began crying on the bus ride home and didn't want to go to school, Pack knew something was wrong, but she didn't know exactly what. Then, in October, she spotted bruises on her daughter after she returned home from Berkeley Heights Elementary -- bruises that her lawyer, Ben Salango, later said appeared to be pressure bruises from Adri being gipped tightly.

    Suspicious that something was wrong but unable to ask her daughter, Pack decided to buy a recording device. On October 5, she hid it in her daughter's bun and sent her off to school, according to People.

    “When she came back, she was just horrified and could not believe what she heard,” Salango said.

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  • During the 8-hour recording, Pack heard Adri's teacher, Christina Lester, and two teaching aides, June Yurish and Kristin Douty, allgedly threatening students.

    The recording reportedly captured some jaw-dropping verbal abuse, along with threats to withhold food if students misbehaved. The mom also heard the teachers say things like, "I ought to backhand you right in your teeth. How is that for anxiety?" and "This one I could punch her right in her face." 

    "I'm going to pull your hair until you start crying," one said at another point.

    In one portion of the tape, an adult said to a student: "You got to go pee-pee? Pee-pee? Or do you not have to go pee-pee and you just want to go [expletive] in a chair?"

    Pack says she was horrified. "I couldn't eat for three days," she told WJLA. "My stomach. I was so upset. Every time I looked at her I would start crying."

  • The mom took her case to police, who called the school principal, and together they listened to the heartbreaking audio.

    The teachers reportedly told police that they hadn't been speaking to the children during the recordings but were instead talking to each other. But Pack and her lawyer aren't buying that claim.

    “To make matters worse, the deputy superintendent called the principal to tell Pack to destroy the file,” Salango alleged. “It’s in writing.”

    Pack wasn't going to let her daughter's story disappear, though. After prosecutors failed to press any charges, the mom took to social media and shared the audio recordings on her Facebook page, where more than 10 million people heard them within 24 hours.

    Soon after the footage went viral, the attorney general filed a civil lawsuit against the teachers for verbally assaulting the students. And in May, the lawsuit was extended to include Principal Amber Boeckmann and Berkeley County Deputy Superintendent Margaret F. Kursey, who are said to have “actively tried to hinder the investigation and obscure evidence with a flawed investigation, an order to destroy the recording and a failure to report the matter to Child Protective Services.” The Berkeley County Board of Education also was added to the lawsuit.

  • On Friday, all three teachers were arrested on charges of misdemeanor failure to report abuse or neglect.

    “These arrests send a strong message -- that child abuse will not be tolerated and must be reported,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement. “We must continue working to ensure vulnerable children are protected, especially at school.”

    As for Adri, her mother has since moved her to a new school that fosters “a very loving environment," and according to the family attorney, she's doing well.

    “The Pack family and I are relieved that criminal charges were brought,” Salango continued. “None of us ever lost hope in the system. We truly believe the system works even if it is slow at times and we’re very happy that the prosecutor decided to charge [these] three people.”

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