PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, AND SEXUAL ABUSE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION CLASSROOM
It is very difficult for parents to send off their children to strangers who will be caring for them throughout the
school day. Tammy Card, a special education teacher in the Mahopac Central School District would tell parents that their children were in good hands. But her words
of reassurance were nothing more that a lie. Card’s classroom reportedly was nothing more than a center for special
education children to be abused, humiliated, tortured, and injured.
How and why do horrific events like this occur? They occur because deviants get hired by school districts for these
jobs by incompetent administrators, who then fail to provide any oversight to the conduct of these individuals, and fail to
remove them from the classroom when problems become known. That is exactly what occurred in Mahopac, where not just
one deviant was hired, but a large number of deviants who were placed in the same special education program, the “Bridge
Program,” where the administration allowed them to pray on children. And then when conscientious teachers and
aides reported what was going on in that classroom, the administration took no action to protect the children, and instead
engaged in a cover up to keep the information from the parents in order to protect the perpetrators and themselves from civil
The first law suit was initiated by the parents of several autistic children. These children all were either
non-verbal or have very low verbal abilities. Considering the fact that these children cannot relay to their parents
what is occurring in the classroom, the conduct that is alleged to have occurred is despicable. The type of alleged
abuse is detailed below:
● Calling the children degrading names, including “sloth,” “Poor Thing,”
“Drool Machine,” “Nico Nico Pancake Freako,” “Mosquito,” “Old Man,” “Froggy,”
“Satan’s Child,” “Chicken Butt,” and “Rodent.”
● Engaging is sexual horseplay in front of the children, including sexual massages and
● Exposing breasts to the students to “brighten their day.”
● Falsifying records to show that IEP services were provided, when they were not.
● Engaging is sex-related discussions in front of the students.
● Altering a child’s assistive communication device to humiliate him. Rather
than the device saying “Hello” or other appropriate responses, the device was reprogrammed to say, “I’m
sitting right here, can’t you friggin see me” and “Hello, I am here today, everybody go away.”
● Use of inappropriate behavioral techniques including dangerous restraints, withholding
of feed, forcing a child to stand facing a wall, forcing a child to eat standing up, locking children in the bathroom, locking
children in the closet, making a child sit in his own feces, rolling balls at a child so that he would trip and fall.
● Force feeding a child causing him to choke on multiple occasions.
● Not taking a child that was injured during the abuse to the nurses office.
● Taking photos of the children’s private parts.
The deviants named in the suit include the following individuals:
Special Education Teacher
Speech Language Pathologist
The problems in this classroom were reported by aides as early as the 2005/06 school year. Yet the administration
did nothing to correct the behaviors of the staff and did nothing to protect the students.
The administration engaged in equally despicable conduct throughout, as they knew of what was occurring in the classroom
and initially did nothing. Once it had continued and parents started asking questions about their children’s deteriorating
behavior, only then did the district get statements from the whistleblowers and have the “perps” reported to the
police. BUT THE ABUSE HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER A YEAR AND THE ADMINISTRATION WAS AWARE OF IT. And once the lid
was off, the administration took retaliatory action against the whistleblowers, removing them from the scene and forbidding
them to have contact with the victims or their parents. The administration then met with the parents and lied to them
saying that the staffing changes that were occurring in the program had “nothing to do with the children.”
Despite the administration being aware of the abuse that was occurring in the Bridge Program, they engaged in an aggressive
campaign to keep information from the victims and their families. (Guess what
firm represents the district? Ingerman & Smith, one of the firms being investigated for their criminal conduct in
the school district lawyer pension scandal. Is it a surprise that the administration in Mahopac hires a firm with equally
The administration also barred parents from observing the classroom during this entire time. This is a big “Red
Flag” to any parent who has their child in a special education self-contained class. A district’s refusal
to allow classroom observations indicates one of two things; that the class is a warehouse with little or no teaching occurring
or the class is a “little shop of horrors” such as the Bridge Program in Mahopac.
The second law suit involves four teacher’s aides (Joanne Sassone, Melanie Patelow Nanna, Kristy Nickerson, and
Mary Beth Sangelli who are suing the district and a number of the administrators for having been suspended from employment.
Now, don’t jump the gun and assume that any of these individuals did a thing wrong or were involved in the abuse of
these children. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT REPORTED THE ABUSE TO THE ADMINISTRATION! And the reaction of the school
administration was to issue a “gag order” to these people to protect the administration and the schools at the
expense of these children! The order read:
“You are hereby placed on administrative reassignment to home, Effective April 10, 2007, with full pay and benefits,
pending the District’s investigation into certain issues which have recently come to our attention in connection with
your employment. You are not allowed on school grounds or at school sponsored events until further notice. You are not
allowed to have any contact with any students or their parents until further notice.”
Obviously, the administrators did not want these whistleblowers to observe the continuing abuse of students in the
Mahopac Schools, did not want the whistleblowers alerting the families of these children, and did not want any of the
facts of the abuse being shared with other staff in the school. While we are on the point, let’s take a moment
to name the administrators that are responsible for these retaliatory acts against the aides who reported the abuse.
Robert J. Reidy, Jr. Superintendent
Vincent Quartararo Assistant Superintendent
Carol DeAlleaume Acting Interim
Throughout the entire time that the administration was aware of and doing nothing about the abuse in the Bridge Program,
the parents were seeing severe regression and changes to their children’s behaviors. Some of the children began
acting out aggressively at home, some began perseverating on sexual issues and engaging in sexual conduct (keep in mind, these
children were 5 and 6 years old), some of the children became resistant to going to school and screamed and became aggressive
when they were expected to go to school, some of the children were able to relay elements of the abuse that was occurring
to their parents. Meanwhile the administration did NOTHING to protect these children. Current clinicians who have
assessed the children since the abuse are opining that these children may never recover behaviorally from the injury that
was inflicted upon them in this classroom. One of the parents had to quit her job to deal with the behavioral issues
that were erupting at home as a result of the abuse.
Parents need to be aware that significant changes in their child’s behavior at home can be an indication that
inappropriate programming is provided in school. As here in Mahopac, school administrations and their attorneys are
often more interested on protecting the school district from legal claims than they are in protecting children from abuse.
This firm of Ingerman & Smith has other motives too, like lining their pockets, as they have been abusing the public trust
in the school lawyer pension scandal that the FBI and the Attorney General are investigating. (The scuttlebutt on that
is that criminal indictments will be coming shortly from the feds against some of the most egregious perps, some of whom may
be partners at Ingerman & Smith.)
Ingerman & Smith is one of the firms that School Watch has asked schools to boycott, due to their abuse of the
public trust. Their involvement in this matter is yet another example of why we need to screen carefully those involved
working in or for our schools, as those involved in advising the district in this cover-up certainly put the interests of
the administration before that of the individual victims, further victimizing them.
If you have information of abuse of children in our schools, or of administrations and their lawyers covering it up,
please report it to SchoolWatch via our website or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.