Saturday, October 24, 2009

TN: Special Ed Teacher Accused Of Abusing Students

A 47-year-old special education teacher is facing federal lawsuits alleging she severely abused students under the age of six.

Donna Weidenbenner is accused of force feeding children until they vomited, shoving them into furniture, kicking them, strapping children to a toilet and restraining them with blankets. Nineteen separate examples of abuse are cited in the charges.

A total of six special needs children were allegedly abused.

Weidenbenner was indicted on child abuse charges in July. The lawsuits say the incidents occurred during the 2008-09 school year while Weidenbenner taught at Station Camp Elementary in Gallatin, Tenn.

The Sumner County Board of Education is also named in the federal lawsuit, which alleges the children's 1st and 14th amendment rights were violated.

The board is named in the suit because they are accused of ignoring the abuse. The suit alleges that school aides that reported Weidenbenner's misconduct to the school were ignored.

"This abuse and conduct has been engaged in by Mrs. Weidenbenner over a span of multiple years. And that the school board had reports made to it that it knew, or should have known, what was happening over that period of time, and should have taken some form of action to stop it and prevent it in the future," said attorney Andy Allman.

Weidenbenner has worked in the Sumner County school district since 1991.

District officials said Weidenbenner was suspended without pay in April once they said the allegations against her came to light.

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