CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Following recent problems with two Kanawha County aides for special needs students, one county school official said finding the right person for the demanding job is critical.
"Our students are special, and it takes special people who are devoted to working with our students to meet those needs. They have a monumental job," said Sandy Boggs, head of exceptional students .
Earlier this week, Kanawha County Board of Education members voted to suspend two special needs aides without pay -- one at Nitro High School and one at Riverside High School -- pending legal action.
In October, Glenna Carr, a teacher's aide for special needs students at Nitro High, left her impaired daughter in a vehicle for several hours, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
Carr was charged with child neglect causing serious risk of injury for leaving the blind 14-year-old girl, who also has cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, in the school parking lot while attending a field trip with her class, according to the report.
The doors of the vehicle were unlocked and the keys were in the ignition when police were notified that an unattended child was seen in the area, the report states.
Carr told police at the time that she had trouble finding childcare and would leave her daughter in the car when she went to class but checked on her frequently.
In November, Heather Lively, an autism mentor at Riverside High, was charged with assault, battery and possession of a controlled substance after she attacked an employee at Magic Mart.
Lively allegedly threw cowboy boots at the store manager after he refused to allow her to exchange them, according to a criminal complain.
Police found Suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, in Lively's purse, according to the complaint. She then admitted to police she was addicted to the substance and had purchased it from someone off the street.
Boggs said while aides are not required to have an education background, they are specially trained and often, some have two-year degrees or certifications.
"We try to find the most qualified person that we can in order to work with our students, and we provide specialized training to make sure those aides can meet the needs of individual students. We don't take our hiring lightly, and we don't approve of hiring anyone who shows behavior that might affect their ability to do their job," she said.
It takes a very special person to do this job and it often requires toileting, feeding and physical restraint. Protecting those students is a big part of their job, too.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.