Attorney for Wildwood School parents alleges that child abuse complaints have been swept under the rug for years
WILMINGTON – While several state agencies are investigating allegations of child abuse at the Wildwood Early Education Center, an attorney representing the parents of five disabled children told The Sun this week that complaints about the teacher in question had been ignored by school officials for over a decade.
“For some reason, this teacher, who has been complained about several times over the years, is standing no harm,” said Steven Bergel, a personal injury attorney with the Howard M. Kahalas law firm. “It is very important to my customers that this story remains in the foreground and is not swept under the carpet, as has apparently been the case for over 10 to 15 years.”
The abuse allegations surfaced in early May after Alex Condell posted on Facebook that he noticed “an absolutely absurd amount of bruises” on his three-year-old son’s legs after picking him up from Wildwood School the month before. He also wrote that he had heard that another woman’s child was allegedly molested in school.
A picture of bruises on the legs of Alex Condell’s 3-year-old son, which Condell claims to have taken after picking up his son from the Wildwood Early Education Center in April 2021.
The week after his post, Wildwood Principal Charlotte King wrote a letter to her parents stating that “one or more employees” had been given leave, and officials from Wilmington Police, Middlesex District Attorneys and the State Department of Children and Families confirmed they were investigating the matter.
Glenn Brand, superintendent of Wilmington Public Schools, also said in a statement that the district would conduct its own independent investigation.
“I want to reassure all parents / guardians and other members of the WPS community that the safety and well-being of students is ultimately the first and foremost concern and priority for the district,” Brand wrote.
Condell told The Sun that after its release, “an incredible number” of people turned to him to share similar experiences, prompting him and several others to seek the services of Bergel.
“To learn that this had happened before and was covered up was devastating,” said Condell. “We’re just trying to make sure it doesn’t go away.”
Among those who have come forward is Roberta Biscan, who told The Sun that her now 17-year-old autistic son attended Wildwood School in 2009 and that he was allegedly injured four times by the accused teacher in just seven months.
“It wasn’t surprising to me when the news broke, but it was very annoying,” said Biscan. “It brought back a lot of emotions from my experience and the fact that my son and I weren’t taken seriously made me very upset.”
According to Biscan, the teacher allegedly injured, scratched and pushed her son, but since the school administration at the time – who she said had all since retired or died – could not substantiate the allegations, the teacher was never punished.
Biscan added that she was finally able to move her son out of the classroom after months of protests, but that the school never brought DCF’s attention to the allegations, which she believes has continued the alleged abuse over the years since then.
“All they did was internal investigations and every time they came back with excuses or couldn’t substantiate the claims, and I felt like I had no leg to stand on,” Biscan said. “You drop the ball way too often.”
Although no charges were brought against the teacher, Brand emailed parents on Wednesday that he had received reports from DCF supporting some of the allegations and that the independent investigation the district commissioned still going on.
He also wrote that the district learned last week of a separate series of allegations of wrongdoing by a Wilmington Middle School employee and that they were also on administrative leave pending a DCF investigation.
“The allegations in each of these cases are completely unacceptable, contradict the values of WPS and will not be tolerated,” wrote Brand. “Any student or family who raise allegations of wrongdoing, harassment or abuse will have those allegations investigated with the thoroughness and seriousness they deserve.”
Ultimately, Condell and Biscan hoped the accused teacher would be fired and charged once the investigation was over, although Biscall would also like to see some accountability from the school district.
“The biggest question here,” said Bergel, “is why. Why wasn’t there at least one person in charge of this teacher? Because we have not done this for many years, there has been unnecessary abuse, causing significant harm to both these vulnerable children and their loving parents. “