CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake police have arrested a special education teacher on two counts of assault and battery.
Police say the warrants allege the crime happened this past May at Grassfield Elementary.
Three families have officially pressed charges. They say the abuse was reported by two teachers’ assistants and it took nearly four weeks for them to be notified by the school.
10 On Your Side met with two of the families involved in the case.
As Liz Tate sat with her 11-year-old daughter Christina, she points out the spark in her eye. That spark, now back, after several weeks of tension and anxiety at home.
“I was not seeing that same smile. I was not seeing that same energy going to school. She was having nightmares. She was crying for me a lot. She wouldn’t let me out of her sight,” Tate recalled.
On June 21, Tate got a call from her daughter’s principal at Grassfield Elementary. That’s when she learned her daughter and two other students in their 5th-grade special education class were allegedly abused by their teacher Janice Maw. Two teaching assistants in the class reported the abuse to administrators.
“[She was] spraying her in the face with a water bottle any time she would get too excited or disruptive in the classroom. She would squeeze her mouth or tell her to be quiet or shut up,” Tate explained.
Tate, who says she was close with Maw as her daughter was in her class for several years, was in shock.
“What happened? Why? If you were having a hard time, if you were going through some things, if you were getting frustrated, you should’ve called me. She hurt me. She hurt me to my core because we were so close,” Tate stated.
Christina’s odd behavior at home now started to make sense.
“When I would do her hair, I use a spray bottle and all of a sudden she started balling her fists up and screaming at me,” Tate recalled.
Tate says her daughter was traumatized and unable to speak up for herself.
“She was trying to tell me and she couldn’t and it breaks my heart that I couldn’t protect her,” Tate said.
10 On Your Side met another family whose daughter suffered alleged abuse in Maw’s classroom as they pressed charges Wednesday evening.
“The emotional effects have devastated us,” said parent Anthony Myrick.
Like Christina, Myrick’s daughter Milan is also non-verbal and makes noises as a way of communicating.
“She’s totally disabled. She has a feeding tube. She does not walk or talk so she’s totally defenseless,” Myrick explained, “she [Maw] would either smack her to get her to stop making that noise, and when she didn’t stop, she would do it continuously. When she didn’t stop, she would grab her cheeks and scream in her face. Shame on you. Shame on you for doing it.”
A spokesperson for Chesapeake Public Schools confirmed the charges of abuse toward three students and says that Janice Maw has since been placed on paid administrative leave. The district and Child Protective Services have previously investigated the allegations and found them to be unfounded.
Police say Child Protective Services is again looking into the allegations.
“Don’t abuse somebody because you don’t like the job,” Myrick concluded.
Tate just wants justice to be served and for Maw to be held accountable.
Maw is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 7.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.