A special education teacher is accused of abusing two of her young, autistic students.
Some time between May and July, 33-year-old Jennah Billeter physically, verbally and mentally abused the students, ages 4 and 5, according to police. She is charged with one count of simple assault and two counts of felony cruelty to children.
“Obviously any offense that involves a child, a child being injured while in the care of an adult we take very seriously,” said Fairfax County police Officer Shely Broderick. “The two charges are felonies, so those are jailable offenses, and you have the misdemeanor assault which is also a jailable offense.”
The incidents allegedly occurred at the Deer Park Elementary School in Centerville. Police will not disclose the disturbing details of the alleged incidents because this is still an ongoing investigation. But in a letter that went home to parents the school said the alleged incident that occurred in the classroom involving one student in the class of Billeter was reported by a teacher’s aid that was in the room at the time. Police said this happened on three occasions to two children.
“The children did not require medical care at a facility,” Broderick said. “However, I’m sure they were quite shaken by these incidents that occurred.”
According to Fairfax County Public Schools, Billeter has worked with children with special needs in the past. In 2002 she worked at Halley Elementary School as an instructional assistant, in 2003 at Clifton Elementary School as a special ed teacher, in 2004 at Bull Run Elementary School as a special ed teacher. She has been a special ed teacher at Deer Park Elementary School since 2007.
On Sunday as the allegations surfaced, Billeter surrendered to police.
Billeter is on unpaid administrative leave while police investigate.
Police are asking parents with information about this case to contact police. They are also searching for other possible victims.
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Published at 8:06 PM EDT on Aug 2, 2010