Special-Ed Teacher Accused Of Locking Five-Year-Old Autistic Student In Closet

Donna Hughes Woodland Elementary School

Greenville County Schools

Donna Hughes, a former special education teacher at Woodland Elementary School in Greer, South Carolina, has been accused of locking on her autistic kindergarten students in a supply closet without any light for 30 minutes as punishment.

What Happened?

Hughes has been charged with unlawful neglect, cruelty to children and assault and batter for locking a five-year-old autistic student in a supply closet for 30 minutes.

Hughes is also said to have dragged the student across the room on his knees, mildly injuring him. She was suspended for the incident, which took place in March 2014, and resigned in April.

Donna Hughes Woodland Elementary School

Greer Police Department

According to WSPA.com, the South Carolina Department of Education suspended her teaching license, noting that she had been reprimanded for her punishment practices in both 2012 and 2013.

The child’s parents filed a report against Hughes in 2014, but she was not arrested by Greer Police until December 2016. The reason for the lapse in time is unknown, though Greer Police did launch an investigation into her teaching practices in March 2014, Fox Carolina reports.

The student’s parents are now suing the Greenville County School District, accusing them of being “aware of prior instances concerning improper punishment techniques and instructional practices” involving Hughes. They maintain that their child was put in “unreasonable risk of harm.”

The lawsuit was filed on May 2 and alleges that Hughes physically and emotionally abused their five-year-old child that resulted in medical expenses.

“Having gone through what he went through, it’s hard for him to go back to school,” Joshua Kendrick, the family’s lawyer, told WSPA.

The family are seeking actual and punitive damages with the amount to be determined by a jury.


Greenville County School District

Greenville County School District is a public school district in Greenville County, South Carolina. It is the largest school district in the state of South Carolina and the 44th largest in the US.

The district serves around 76,000 students while employing around 5,000 teachers and a total staff of 9,800. The district operates on an annual budget of $536.7 million.

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    Brandon KatzCOED Writer
    A New York native & proud couch potato who loves all things pop culture. I can usually be found writing, making videos and ranking all the warriors in "Game of Thrones" based on their fighting prowess.
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