Fulton Schools policy led tip in abuse case

The recent arrest of a Fulton County Schools' special education teacher accused of abusing students in her care was the result of the district's beefed up policy to curb the mistreatment of children, officials said Friday.

Lavonne Alioth, a Camp Creek Middle School teacher, was arrested and charged with three counts of child cruelty on a tip by a staff member breaking the chain of command out of concern for student safety.

The staff member alerted authorities, compelled by a district policy that requires anyone with knowledge about employees abusing students to inform district administrators, school police or the Division of Family and Children Services, said Samantha Evans, spokeswoman for Fulton Schools.

That policy, which goes beyond the state's mandatory reporting requirements, was updated last year at the urging of Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa after parents complained about the district's delay in investigating similar abuse at Hopewell Middle School. State law requires that administrators, teachers, school social workers, guidance counselors or psychologists report child abuse.

"This is proof the policy is working," Evans said. "Any allegations of abuse are going to be investigated. If any of those allegations are confirmed we will be prosecuting individuals to the fullest extent of the law."

According to police and jail records, Alioth is accused of forcing a special needsstudent to stand in a corner for more than seven hours, depriving the boy of adequate food and playing rap music with offensive lyrics. The teacher also is alleged to have forced another handicapped student to get into a yoga position as a punishment, and covered the head of a third student in a wheelchair with a sheet because she was loud.

Evans said Alioth has been with the district for about 13 years. She was unaware of any other complaints about the teacher. School officials would not reveal who tipped administrators off about the alleged abuse.

This is the second case this month of abuse allegations against a Fulton special education teacher. Several lawsuits have been filed against the district due to allegations in two separate cases.

Last week, the parents of a former Fulton County Schools student filed a $10.5 million lawsuit claiming that their disabled son was abused by two of his teachers.

Ronald and Arthalia Hatcher of Roswell say their son faced numerous acts of abuse while attending Hopewell Middle School and Roswell High. Their son, Aaron Hatcher, who died about a year ago at age 18, suffered from muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. He could not talk or walk on his own. The Hatchers say one teacher dumped their child out of his wheelchair and another allegedly forced the boy to wear a makeshift neck brace so he could look her in the eyes.

Evans said school officials investigated the complaints last year when the incident was reported and did not find any wrongdoing.

In another special education abuse case at Hopewell Middle last month, Fulton Schools was ordered to pay for the private education of a student who was allegedly abused by a special education teacher.

Evans said the district will begin training for special education teachers this month.