Former teacher and teacher’s aide charged with dragging autistic child across floor

PADUCAH — Police say a local teacher and a teacher’s aide dragged a 9-year-old child with autism across the floor two different times on Feb. 11 and 15.

“My first reaction is what is best for the child and to make sure the child is safe,” said Paducah Independent Schools Superintendent Dr. Donald Shively.

Shively said McNabb Elementary teacher Vanacia Barner and teacher’s aide Katrella Farmer were fired after an internal investigation. Police confirm the incidents described happened at McNabb Elementary School in Paducah.

The two women were charged with wanton endangerment on May 24. The charges were filed May 29.

Police say there’s video of one of the women dragging the boy on the floor after he caused a scene at school, but we don’t have access to that video because of privacy laws.

Police explain in a news release that one of the women tried to pick the boy up, but he was too big. That’s when police saw them drag him into a seclusion room in the video.

McNabb Elementary in Paducah

We are not identifying that boy, because he’s a minor.

“Without a doubt, any report or allegation we take serious,” Shively said. He said school administrators told him about the accusations. He investigated, and contacted police on Feb. 20.

“I met personally with the family to say here is what has happened, what I know, and here is our next steps,” said Shively.

He said he only takes action when he has proof. While he can’t comment on specific personnel issues, documents show both women were fired in March, about a month after the incident.

“We take each situation very seriously,” Shively said.

The attorney representing the parents, Chuck Walter, said both incidents were caught on camera and called them “troubling.” Walter said the boy had scrapes and bruises.

Shively confirmed he has seen the video. “We have high expectations. If we are not treating them like what you want your child to be treated…then obviously we’ve got to break down how we can meet the needs of each and every child,” he said.

Walter said the boy is in a special needs class and has an IEP — an individualized education program. He claims they had a deescalation plan in place, but it wasn’t followed.

Dr. Becky Nastally, a licensed behavior analyst who works with children with autism, said deescalation is different for every child, but that it’s important to keep calm and protect the child.

Barner will be arraigned on June 27. Farmer will be arraigned on June 18. They were never arrested, so there are no jail booking photos of them.

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