WILMINGTON — On Monday Aug. 23, the Wilmington Public School system shared the findings of their investigation into abuse accusations at a meeting. The investigation ultimately determined that three children this school year, and one child the previous school year, were abused.
Back in May, accusations came to light against a staff member at Wildwood Early Education Center in Wilmington. Parents alleged a staff member from the school was physically abusing students, with parents taking to social media to share their stories, with one detailing that their child was picked up from school with numerous bruises on his legs.
The district hired independent investigator Patrick Haney to investigate the abuse allegations in Room 7 of the Wildwood School during the 2020-21 school year. To create his report, he conducted 35 interviews with parents, as well as reviewed records provided from Wilmington Public Schools, the Wilmington Police Department, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Children and Families.
In Haney’s 27-page report, he found that the children were “grabbed, held, and shoved” by the staff member.
Though the report maintains that the other educator working in Room 7 could not have plausibly not known about the abuse, there is no evidence they also took part in it.
Parents are seeking accountability, and question why the district’s mandated reporters did not immediately report the abuse to the Department of Children and Families.
Wilmington Superintendent Glen Brand assured that the district plans to take action, primarily through the expansion of existing training methods. Rather than continue on with the current training methods, they plan to transition to online, mandated reporter training from the Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center.
Additionally, the district has hired a full-time counselor for the coming school year at the Wildwood School, two social-emotional learning engagement specialists, and educational assistants.
At the meeting, Brand also reiterated that the district will not tolerate abuse of any kind: “Abuse and mistreatment of students is wholly unacceptable, counter to our values and will not be tolerated. We will continue to do all that we can to ensure a healthy and supportive and learning environment in the Wilmington public schools. One that is safe, nurturing and promotes respect for one another at all times.”