GALENA, Ohio (WCMH) — The Genoa Township Police Department is investigating a report of inappropriate behavior by a former employee at Walnut Creek Elementary School who is accused of taking photos of a partially clothed student with autism.
The employee, a teacher’s aide, was with the district at the time the report was filed but has since resigned. NBC4 is not naming her because she has not been criminally charged.
Parents of the student, an 8-year-old girl who has autism and is nonverbal, said the aide took the disturbing photos. The family is being represented by attorney Emmanuel Olawale. Given what they say their daughter has been through, they do not want to be identified.
“The only place they felt she was safe was the school, only to find out that she wasn’t even safe there,” said Olawale. “The only safe haven they felt they had, she was violated there.”
Last month, the principal at Walnut Creek told the girl’s parents about an internal investigation into the teacher’s aide, according to Olawale. Olawale said the parents were told the investigation found the aide took inappropriate pictures of the girl and sent them to another school employee. Olawale said it’s been found the photos were sent on Snapchat.
“One of them shows the 8-year-old child on the toilet. Another one showed her being partially naked from waist down,” said Olawale. “So that was when the other staff she sent the photos to told the school district she had concerns.”
A Genoa Township Police Report from Sept. 15 shows the girl’s mother filed a report of someone taking inappropriate pictures of her daughter. The incident location is listed as 5600 Grand Oak Boulevard, which is Walnut Creek Elementary. A spokesperson for the Olentangy Local School District said the superintendent and principal were not available for interviews. The district’s brief statement confirmed the teacher’s aide had worked there and said she has resigned. The teacher’s aide resignation letter said she resigned “due to personal reason” and thanked the district for 15 years.
“Given an opportunity to resign on her own term, she shouldn’t have even been given that opportunity to resign, she should have been terminated,” said Olawale. “That itself is giving her a way out, she left her own terms. The eight-year-old had no option.”
NBC4 attempted to talk with the former teacher’s aide at her home. A man answered the door and said she was not available. The man said she had an attorney but did not provide a name.
The Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office said it is aware of the allegation but has not received an investigation report because Genoa Township Police is still investigating.
A spokesperson for the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office said school leadership made them aware of this situation. Since it falls under Genoa Township Police Department’s jurisdiction, the sheriff’s office confirmed an investigation was underway.