Friday, November 26, 2010

More Injustice In Pahrump

From today's Pahrump Valley Times: "Floyd Elementary Principal Holly Lepisto was released on bail from the Pahrump jail at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Special education teacher Sarah Hopkins was released at 11 a.m. on Thursday.Special education aide Kathryn Cummings was still in custody Friday. The three women were in jail on charges of child abuse and conspiracy to commit a crime after allegations were made involving abuse of disabled students at Floyd Elementary School. A fourth special education aide, Phyllis DuShane, faces the same charges. She was released shortly after her arrest on Tuesday for medical reasons."
So, the aide in the classroom, Kathryn Cummings, who is probably the least culpable in this case is the only one still in jail, trying to raise $100,000 in bail money.
I'm not sure completely about the special aide's in Nye County, but I am pretty sure they make maybe $1 or $2 above minimum wage. They are not paid a salary like a teacher or principal. They work maybe 9 or 10 months a year with minimum benefits. And yet this is the person they keep in jail?
The teacher is the person who is in charge of the classroom and the principal is the supervisor and the aides do what the teacher says. So, if this an ongoing problem, the aide is the least culpable.
Further, $100,000 bail? Some murderer's, killers and rapists don't get this kind of bail. Even if the allegations are true, there has been no mention of injury of a student, so why the high bail amount. Are these aides, teacher and principal a flight risk or a danger to the community? That is what bail is about- not punishment. So far, there has been no mention of anyone being a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Another troubling aspect from the article: "District Attorney Brian Kunzi said criminal complaints against the four educators will likely be filed on Monday, possibly revealing what evidence police uncovered in their investigation of abuse at Floyd.Kunzi told the Pahrump Valley Times that he was kept abreast of developments throughout the Nye County Sheriff’s Office investigation."
So, the DA has these educators thrown in jail but yet doesn't even have the criminal complaint ready. This is probably going to be a complex case, unless it involves corporal punishment that involves physical abuse and there are witnesses to the abuse.
Another troubling part of the case: "Parents of special education students were contacted Monday night by Lepisto and told that their children may need to stay home on Tuesday, because only substitutes would be teaching, said one parent. Gary Loyko, who has a 6-year-old son in Hopkins’ class, said the principal would not say why the teacher and aides would be absent."
This is illegal. You cannot tell students not to come to school because of problems at school, unless the entire school is affected. That is illegal. The class could have been covered by substitute teachers, teachers from the school and school district and other school employees.

Another troubnling aspect of the case is a press release written by the Pahrump Disability Outreach Program. From the press release:
"PDOP second would hope and pray that this is an isolated incident and not the standard for the Nye County School District. We have faith that the school district will address this issue immediately and will take all necessary measures to prevent this from occurring again."
The sheriff's department has said that the criminal behavior has been occurring for two years, then how can this be an isolated incident?
The press release also says:
"PDOP third would like to say a few words to the person(s) who commit these types of crimes. The Pahrump community will not tolerate this behavior by you or anyone else especially in your position. You were entrusted with other people’s loved ones and you have betrayed that trust. There is no excuse for your behavior in the situation and it is ap-palling. We hope as an organization you now realize that the commu-nity, our families, and our organization will not tolerate this type of be-havior from anyone"
First, what crimes? And who wrote the press release? Could it be the lead detective in the case?
From PVT: (Det. David) Boruchowitz declined to comment about his interview of Lepisto. Asked whether his position as president of local nonprofit Pahrump Disability Outreach Program, a nonprofit outreach group that works with family members of disabled children, played any role in the investigation, he said no.Asked whether he thought his off-duty role in PDOP constituted a conflict of interest, he said no.“I’m an advocate for disabled children, all children, at work and off-duty,” he said.DeMeo said he agrees there is not a conflict of interest.
Again, I don't know what is going on. Maybe these four ladies are heinous child abusers who should spend the rest of their life in prison. Or maybe they are victim of a witch hunt by a detective and new DA. Or maybe it is somewhere in between. Who knows? No one because the cops and DA are not releasing any information.


  1. Any more comments now that one of them plead guilty?

  2. The oldest aide pleaded guilty and she is not getting any real punishment- no jail time or fine.
    My guess she was scared and didn't have the money to fight the charge.