JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
WILLIAMSON - A special needs teacher and a teacher’s aid pleaded not guilty in Mingo County Circuit Court to charges they abused students at Riverside Elementary.
Tina Grace and Donna Hurst were indicted by the Mingo Grand Jury. Grace was charged with two counts of child abuse resulting in injury and one count of misdemeanor battery. Hurst was indicted for one count of battery.
The charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services after allegations the teachers used inappropriate disciplinary methods when dealing with special needs students.
Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks said he was glad the system was being used to protect children.
“I commend the individuals that reported the incidents culminating in these indictments,” Sparks said. “Turning a blind eye, silence and indifference lead to atrocities against children like those that occurred at Penn State University. Protecting children from child abuse and seeking justice for child abuse victims must be of the highest priority.”
Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury set Grace’s and Kurst’s bond at $20,000, with the conditions they have no contact with children less than 18-years-old, outside of family members, and that the defendants take random drug and alcohol screenings.
The teachers’ trials are set for October.