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Reports of child abuse being investigated at Lee County school

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:

An investigation is underway at a Lee County school after three students with special needs were reportedly abused by a teacher and a staff member.

Investigators with the Department of Children and Families told the children’s parents that the children were held down during naptime.

Lynnette Clavell and Michael Torres are heartbroken. They sent their son to Lehigh Elementary School, expecting him to be safe.

“He seemed to love it… a lot,” Clavell said. “It just like breaks my heart a little bit, you know?”

They got a call from the school telling them to expect a call from the DCF.

“That’s the last thing as a parent you want to hear is that DCF will be reaching out to you,” Torres said.

A child services agent told the parents the state is investigating whether their son’s teacher and a staff member abused him.

“When she told me the allegation is a faculty member had their legs wrapped around your child’s shins and also their arms around their head and neck area for 10 minutes until he fell asleep… that is not how you handle children in any way. That is neglect, that is abuse,” Clavell said.

The DCF is also investigating whether there might be two more victims in the special education classroom.

Zeniada Urbina told WINK News that the DCF also contacted her with similar allegations about her 4-year-old grandson.

“Just thinking about it… it bothers me. These kids didn’t ask to be born this way, but you have teachers that chose this career. Not only the career, but they chose that specific classroom setting.”

The parents say their trust in the school is gone and they’re pulling their kids out.

“I honestly feel really, really betrayed. I mean this is a teacher I saw hug my child in the morning,” Clavell said.

“I’m not only fighting for Michael, I’m fighting for the other two kids. They may not be able to speak but they have an army behind them,” Urbina said.

The teacher and the staff member have been removed from the classroom. A spokesman for the School District of Lee County said that in these cases, teachers are sometimes reassigned during an investigation but he didn’t know if that happened in this case.

The DCF has yet to respond to our questions about the investigation.