Unlawful neglect of a child is a felony charge in South Carolina. It can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
Updated November 06, 2022
An Horry County elementary school principal was arrested this week after police determined she failed to properly report suspected child abuse as part of a law designed to catch potential abuses as early as possible.
Rebecca Schroyer, principal of Ocean Bay Elementary, is facing two counts of failing to report child abuse of neglect, as defined by South Carolina’s mandated reporter law. The misdemeanor charges each carry a penalty of up to six months in prison and/or a $500 fine. She was placed on administrative leave Tuesday.
Schroyer’s arrest came in conjunction with charges against special education teacher Grace McColgan, who was accused of unlawful conduct toward children related to multiple occasions during the current and past school year.
Attorney Morgan Martin, who is representing Schroyer, described the charges against his client as an “overreach” by law enforcement because he believes the principal was “vigilant” in her actions, and didn’t violate the law. He didn’t say what actions Schroyer took, and the warrants for her arrest don’t offer many details either.
Each failure to report charge stems from alleged incidents of abuse in February, when McColgan placed hand sanitizer in a child’s open wound and hit a child back after the child hit her, the warrants state. The reports do not detail how police determined Schroyer knew about these abuses or whether she did anything with that information.
The Horry County Police Department arrested an elementary school teacher and a principal Wednesday morning.
Rebecca Schroyer, 47, who is the principal at Ocean Bay Elementary School, is accused of two counts of failing to report a child neglect allegation for an incident that happened during the 2021-22 school year.
The alleged incident, which happened in February, involved a teacher “putting hand sanitizer in a child’s open wound,” an arrest warrant states.
Schroyer, employed with the district since 2001, was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday pending the investigation. At the Wednesday bond hearing, Schroyer was given a $10,000 bond and released.
Grace McColgan, 60, a special education teacher at Ocean Bay Elementary, was charged with six counts of unlawful conduct towards a child, stemming from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, according to an arrest warrant.
According to a redacted witness statement, McColgan smacked three male students with an open hand on two separate occasions after the students would not get their heads off the table. These incidents happened in late September.
There were always three adults in the room with McColgan, according to the incident reports. She was placed on administrative leave October 11.
McColgan was given a $60,000 bond on Wednesday.
Mark Porter, executive director for elementary schools, will oversee Ocean Bay elementary school for the time being, according to Lisa Bourcier, the Horry County schools spokesperson.
A bond hearing for both McColgan and Schroyer is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday. No bail has been set.
Aldine ISD teacher and aide charged for alleged abuse of 6-year-old boy with autism
ALDINE, TX – Two Aldine ISD educators have been charged after a first-grade student who has autism was allegedly physically injured in the classroom.
Britnee Vaughn, a teacher for kids with special needs, and teacher’s aide Maria Gonzalez-Valencia both face felony charges of injury to a child.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Aldine ISD said both educators are no longer employed by the district.
In an interview last week, the 6-year-old’s parents, Pablo Reyna and Angelica Frias, said they noticed their son would return from Raymond Elementary School with random scratches, bruises and bumps on his head.
“Whether he was OK or not,” Reyna said, “I thought he could have been playing or something. You never know, he bumped his head or something. I mean, he’s a kid, but like I said, it was never in our mind that the teacher was abusive towards him like that.”
Frias said what appeared to be minor injuries happened multiple times over the course of months, and both parents questioned their student’s teacher about it.
“It’s heartbreaking because he isn’t able to talk,” Frias said. “He has autism, and he doesn’t talk, and he was not able to let me know what was going on.”
She said finally their request made it to the Raymond Elementary School’s administration staff, and an investigation was initiated.
The school’s principal, Tannessa Maddox, reportedly obtained video from inside the classroom after the parents complained.
Court records detail multiple instances where students were allegedly physically abused while in their classroom.
The first incident the court documents covered happened on March 24.
Witnesses to the video state that Gonzalez-Valencia was seen striking the boy in the forehead with an unknown object after he touched an item on her desk.
After the boy was hit, the video reportedly shows the 6-year-old placing his hands on his head in the same area of the strike, indicating that it caused him to feel pain.
After allegedly striking the boy, the teacher’s aide can be heard telling the boy to move, court records claim.
On March 25, a video allegedly shows Vaughn walk over to the boy, who was spinning around on the floor, and kick him, causing him to slide across the floor.
In a separate incident on April 4, court records claim that Vaughn physically hurt another child, in addition to the 6-year-old who has autism.
Witnesses claim that the classroom video shows the boy and the other student playing on the floor.
Vaughn is then seen walking over to the boy and grabbing him by the back of his shirt in the neck area, pulling him up from the floor and onto his feet.
She then reportedly pushes him towards his desk, causing him to fall to the floor. Witnesses to the video said when the boy got up and sat at his desk, he started rubbing his neck with his hands.
After that, the video reportedly shows Vaughn walking over to the other student and grabbing him by the ear until he gets up from the ground.
The student allegedly yelled in reaction, causing Vaughn to let go. That’s when she reportedly told him not to scream again, or she would take his tablet.
When the student went to sit down at his desk, he was reportedly holding his ear in pain. In an interview on Tuesday, Pablo Jr.’s parents said the teachers being charged is a good first step, but they want full accountability.
“I think they should be not able to teach anymore. Their title should be taken away from them. If they didn’t have the patience for the kids, then why be a teacher?” said Frias. They said they would also like to see the district pay more attention.
“I hope that they keep an eye out and be more aware of what’s going on with the teachers, the students and just be able to catch things sooner,” said Frias.
Pablo Jr.’s parents said their son is not finishing the school year at Raymond Elementary as they did not feel comfortable with him going back there after what happened. He is currently enrolled at another Aldine ISD school.
Aldine ISD issued an updated statement about the investigation on Tuesday:
“Aldine ISD is aware of an incident at Raymond Elementary School in which a teacher and a paraprofessional made inappropriate physical contact with two special needs students. Once the school was made aware of this incident, CPS and Aldine ISD PD were immediately contacted and an investigation was initiated. The Aldine ISD PD turned their findings over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and charges have been filed against both individuals. Both individuals are no longer employed by Aldine ISD.
This incident is deeply concerning and should not have occurred. The district trains teachers and paraprofessionals in nonviolent crisis intervention techniques at the beginning of each school year and will reinforce that training during the remainder of this year. Aldine ISD expects all employees to conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates the proper regard for others and does not tolerate behavior that infringes on the safety and emotional well-being of any students or staff member. In addition, the district will use its resources to protect its students and staff.
Aldine ISD leaders will continue to work together to find solutions which provide a safe, healthy and nurturing learning environment in our schools in order to support academic achievement, respectful interactions and engagement.”
Man to stand trial for Child Abuse after
HUDSONVILLE, MI – The father accused of manslaughter in his son’s death was ordered Friday to stand trial for two counts of child abuse.
In a Hudsonville courtroom, Judge Judy Mulder dismissed a third count – child abuse in the presence of another child — that Timothy Koets faced.
“(Koets’) daughter was not present when (Samuel Koets) was left on the porch,” Mulder said in court Friday afternoon. “So the acts the defendant did to commit the child abuse in this case — the act of leaving his child alone on the porch unsupervised — was not done in the present of a child. It’s very unfortunate that his daughter had to find her brother alone in the pool in the way she did, but the act of child abuse …. was not done with the other child present so I am not able to find that there’s probably cause to bind over on count 3.”
Mulder did, however, bound Tim Koets over on two child abuse counts, one of which is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
“The facts presented that supported this at the time of the preliminary examination were that Samuel was left on a porch unattended, that the defendant did not assure that his wife was awake to care for Samuel,” said Mulder from the bench.
“There was some testimony that he awoke her. There was also some competing testimony that he texted his daughter during the course of the time he was gone indicating that he thought his wife was sleeping. I’m paraphrasing… but that’s how those texts read. There was also testimony that Samuel Koets functioned as an 18-month-old, that he was a nonverbal child and that he was attracted to water. So … a reasonable jury listening to those facts could find that this was a reckless act that caused a serious injury to his son, Samuel. So, therefore I’m going to bind it over on count 2 (felony child abuse in the second degree).”
Sam drowned after climbing into the backyard pool at the family’s home near Hudsonville. Authorities say his father, a professor at Grand Rapids Community College, left him unattended when he went to work on March 28, 2019. When one of his daughters texted him that Sam was in the icy pool, he allegedly texted back, “would you make sure the freak is OK?”
Koets and his wife Michelle Koets told “Inside Edition” in an interview that aired earlier this week that he woke his wife up before he left for work but she fell back asleep.
“It is not a reckless act for one parent to leave a child in the care of another parent,” Koets’ attorney argued Friday before his client was bound over. “He woke his wife up. He thought she was awake.”
In the “Inside Edition” interview, the Koetses rejected the notion that Tim Koets was negligent or uncaring. But investigators told News 8 that Sam Koets was also living in “disturbing” conditions before the drowning.
Outside the courtroom Friday, Koets’ attorney said while he knew Michelle Koets and a daughter had been contacted by “Inside Edition” and might do an interview, he did not know beforehand that Tim Koets would participate in the story.
“Had a discussion with my client and that will not be occurring again,” defense attorney David Kallman said.
Also Friday, both Tim and Michelle Koets were arraigned on charges that they kept filling their son’s Ritalin prescription for months after he died. Authorities say they were taking the drugs themselves.