NJ Probes How Special-needs Girl Was Bitten Repeatedly in Class
ELIZABETH — An 8-year-old special-needs student remains out of school more than two weeks after being bitten by a classmate six times in one day, including on the face, according to an attorney for the victim's family.
The family has identified the girl as Emily Montero, a third grader with Down syndrome.
As reported by CBS New York, the child is legally qualified for a one-on-one aide or personal paraprofessional, and the school district previously said three adults were in charge of a total eight special-needs students in Emily's class.
Since the incident on Sept. 6 at William F. Halloran School 22, the case is being reviewed by state and local officials, who declined to release any details on the investigation.
Work is being done to try and get Emily into a new school district, attorney Joshua McMahon said.
Both Emily and the other student involved were described as "non-communicative," in a letter posted on the district's website by the city's superintendent of schools, Olga Hugelmeyer, who also said the girl had "received minor injuries" and that "immediate and appropriate action" was taken by school staff.
The victim's older sister, Britanie Montero, shared images on social media of Emily's injuries shortly after the incident and set up a GoFundMe campaign to help support childcare for her sister in the "transitional" period, as well as future educational expenses.
A joint statement from Schiller McMahon and Manes & Weinberg, the law firms representing Montero's family, said, "As a society, we have a moral obligation to protect our most vulnerable and defenseless children, and kids with special needs must, at all costs, be protected from physical abuse and neglect in our schools, while simultaneously ensuring that these precious children are given the educational tools necessary to live healthy, happy and productive lives. Anything less is unacceptable."
NJ.com reported that the girl's mother, Veronica Salluca, has in years past reported two previous classroom incidents to police, in one saying that a staff member had grabbed Emily by the arm.
The same report by NJ.com said that Hugelmeyer confirmed both previous incidents were determined to be "unfounded"" by child welfare officials.
A request for further comment from Hugelmeyer was not answered early Tuesday afternoon.