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Hafen aide arrested on abuse charges

Police arrested a 59-year-old teacher’s aide Tuesday after two Hafen Elementary School students complained that she used physical force on them.

Diane Allen was booked into the Nye County Detention Center on two counts of child abuse. The teacher’s aide works with special needs students at Hafen.

According to a sheriff’s office press release on the matter, Allen was witnessed mistreating at least one of the children by another teacher.

The Nye County School District released a short press statement on Allen’s arrest Wednesday.

“The safety of our students is a top priority of the Nye County School District. A special education paraprofessional at Hafen Elementary School was arrested on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 on two (2) counts of child abuse. The Nye County Sheriff’s Office and the Nye County School District are currently conducting investigations. If you have any information pertinent to this investigation, please contact the Nye County Sheriff’s Office at 775-751-7000.”

Sources at the school district, who could only speak to the PVT anonymously since district policy forbids talking to the press about personnel issues, say Allen has a history of questionable behavior in the classroom.

One teacher, at Floyd Elementary School, reportedly kicked Allen out of their classroom for mistreating students.

“She doesn’t have a good attitude when it comes to children,” one source told the PVT.

After leaving Floyd during the winter break, Allen was assigned to Tony Streater’s classroom. Streater is a fourth and fifth grade special education teacher at Hafen.

The school district source says Streater attempted to counsel Allen on how to better deal with the children in his classroom, to no avail, apparently, this person said.

Sources confirmed that Allen started work with the school district in 2008 as a substitute. She became a para-professional, or aide, in 2010.

This is not the first time a teacher’s aide has been in trouble with the law over the treatment of special needs elementary school children. In fact, the school district is currently defending itself in federal civil court over the actions of former Floyd principal Holly Lepisto, special education teacher Sarah Hopkins, and former Hopkins aides Phyllis DuShane and Kathryn Cummings, all of whom were arrested in 2010 on multiple child abuse charges involving the mistreatment of several special needs students.

The district source who spoke with the PVT called Allen a “Hopkins follower” when discussing the latest abuse arrest to shake the district.

The criminal charges against Lepisto and Cummings were eventually dropped and Hopkins and DuShane pleaded guilty to only minor infractions when their court cases were resolved. Hopkins and Lepisto were eventually allowed to return to the district. However, three civil cases were filed against the educators and the school district in 2012 seeking damages in excess of $33 million. One of those cases may have just recently been settled out of court, according to sources familiar with the litigation.

Allen was released on a $10,000 bond after she was taken into custody Tuesday. She is scheduled to appear in Justice Court on April 21.

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