FOX19 INVESTIGATES: Allegations of abuse & cover-up inside school

Published: Feb. 12, 2013 at 3:06 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM EST
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Former teacher, Amanda Kitcho
Former teacher, Amanda Kitcho
Superintendent Valerie Browning
Superintendent Valerie Browning
Asst. Superintendent Tina Blair
Asst. Superintendent Tina Blair
Becky Holloway pictured on the right with Kings Local School District Board
Becky Holloway pictured on the right with Kings Local School District Board

KINGS MILLS, OH (FOX19) - A lawsuit obtained by FOX19 is raising allegations of special needs students being abused at an elementary school in the Kings Local School District in Warren County.

Sources connected to Columbia Elementary tell FOX19 that a teacher's aide witnessed a teacher mistreating some of her special needs students on multiple occasions, some of the details of which are now contained in the lawsuit. The lawsuit quotes the former aide as saying the teacher abused the special needs students in ways that included "seclusion, restraint, physical abuse (such as pushing and shoving), verbal abuse and other emotional abuse."

On page 12 of the lawsuit, the identity of the teacher is revealed as Amanda Kitcho, whose LinkedIn profile shows that she has left the teaching profession and is now a bridal consultant.

The sources came forward to FOX19 before the lawsuit was filed by a member of the taxpayer group COAST, which is seeking records pertaining to the investigation and how much it's cost the district.

Superintendent Valerie Browning e-mailed us a statement today which says, in part, "I believe these (allegations) of child abuse are unsubstantiated and have been investigated by law enforcement and found to be untrue."

But Dr. Browning concedes she put Kitcho on administrative leave. Dr. Browning also told us that the district's own investigation "revealed that the teacher's approach and philosophy…was not consistent" with the district's. Last January, while putting Kitcho on administrative leave, Dr. Browning ordered Kitcho to stay away from the school. However, she allowed her to continue drawing her salary for eight months.

Kings Local School District entered into a separation agreement with Kitcho, which is now part of the court record. In the document, Becky Holloway, who was the school board president last year, agreed that "If the media contacts the Board, the Board will say Ms. Kitcho resigned for personal reasons and an investigation revealed no wrongdoing on her part."

But that's not all.

Assistant superintendent Tina Blair signed a recommendation letter for the former teacher in which she said Kitcho had created "an environment of respect and rapport."

However, the superintendent is now telling FOX19 that it was not the environment she wanted.

FOX19 was able to reach Kitcho tonight. She asked her attorney to contact us.

"In this case, it appears, after a thorough investigation, that Ms. Kitcho has been exonerated," Dayton attorney John R. Doll said in an e-mail responding to our questions.

The lawsuit filed by a member of COAST is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order the school district to turn over more records about what happened. FOX19 has requested those same records, along with others we feel are vital to bringing out more facts about this case.

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