Three Okaloosa County School District employees charged with child abuse

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Three Okaloosa County School District employees are facing charges.

The State Attorney's Office said the charges stem from acts happening at Silver Sands School during the 2018-2019 school year.

Margaret Wolthers, an ESE teacher, has been charged with one count of child abuse and one count of child neglect. Diana Lacroix and Carolyn Madison, both teacher's aides, are both charged with one count of child abuse and one count of child neglect.

The State Attorney's Office says all three were arrested in January by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

In September and November of 2018, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Investigators said on different occasions Wolthers and aides, LaCroix and Madison, "intentionally and maliciously" blew a whistle in the ear of a child with a low sensory auditory threshold who wore earphones to protect him from loud noises. They say the teacher and aides would also threaten him with the whistle. Investigators also say the children were also individually and on separate occasions locked in the classroom bathroom with the door closed and lights off as punishment for misbehavior. Witnesses say the children would scream and cry when put in the bathroom and they say one child was left in the bathroom for an hour and a half.

Investigators say at the time of the incidents, two of the children were eight years old and the other child was ten years old.

The State Attorney's Office recommended the Okaloosa County School District proceed with any administrative actions they feel are appropriate at this time and not wait for the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.