52°F
weather icon Clear

Special ed teacher charged with abuse back at work

A special education teacher arrested and charged with abusing special education students in 2010 has a new position with the Nye County School District (NCSD).

Last spring, former Floyd Elementary teacher Sarah Hopkins pleaded no contest to four misdemeanor counts of coercion in District Court.

Hopkins, along with three other co-defendants in the high-profile criminal case, originally faced multiple felony charges. Hopkins was scheduled to go to trial in May on a single felony count of child abuse.

NCSD Superintendent Dale Norton declined to comment on the revelation other than to say, “The matter involving Sarah Hopkins is a personnel matter which the district cannot comment on.”

Hopkins’ three co-defendants, like her, escaped serious punishment.

Former Floyd Principal Holly Lepisto saw the case against her dismissed in August 2012. She now works for the district in Tonopah as principal at Tonopah’s middle and elementary schools.

Kathryn Cummings, one of two teacher’s aides who assisted Hopkins in her special education class, saw the case against her dropped in 2011.

Additionally, Phyllis DuShane, the other aide in Hopkins’ class, pleaded guilty to a simple misdemeanor battery charge in December 2010; she was given 150 hours of community service.

Hopkins and her co-defendants are not out of the legal woods just yet.

As reported in the Pahrump Valley Times last May, all remain in legal limbo pending the outcome of multi-million dollar civil litigation filed against them by the parents of four special education students who claim their children were abused by Hopkins and her aides. A combined $33 million in punitive damages is being sought.

Nye County School District is named as a co-defendant as well.

The case against the four educators became public in October 2010, when former teacher’s aide Tammy Schoeck filed an incident report with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office after supposedly witnessing several alleged incidents between Hopkins and two of her students.

During preliminary court proceedings at the time, other witnesses testified about several incidents that allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2010 involving Hopkins and her students.

The witnesses’ accounts indicated instances of spanking, pushing, flicking and shaking of several students as punishment for acting out.

Most of the students suffered from a variety of physical and emotional ailments, including autism.

Lepisto came under scrutiny when it was allegedly discovered that she had ignored complaints about Hopkins’ behavior with students. She was later arrested and led from the school in handcuffs while students were still in class after she was accused of not fully cooperating with police in their investigation.

Cummings and DuShane were arrested at their homes. DuShane was 72 years old at the time.

All four women were originally charged with five felony counts of child abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime.

It is unclear in what capacity Hopkins will serve in her new position with the district. Sources tell the PVT that she is not teaching kids but is responsible for training other instructors.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Health Expert: Spread of the Coronavirus not as virulent in the US

The spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 69,000 people globally and led to more than 1,600 deaths, may not be as impactful in the U.S. as it has been in China, where the virus is thought to have originated. Over a dozen people have tested positive in the U.S. as of mid-February, according to the World Health Organization.

Hearts for the homeless

Ashlin Banning, just 8 years old, is trying her best to make a difference with the homeless here in the valley.

Nevada state employee harassment claims increase 50%

Despite a task force created to address the problem of workplace sexual harassment, the number of claims filed by state employees has increased by more than 50 percent.

Nevada Census grants available to fund materials, outreach

The Nevada Complete Count Committee is now rolling out its 2020 census administrative support and partnership grant applications, aimed at helping provide cash to organizations and entities working on the 2020 census.

Troublesome tumbleweeds create chaos

Pahrump resident Betty Robison was blown away when she peered out the window of her East Mt. Charleston Drive home last week.

In Season: Start seeds now for a spring and summer harvest

This is an exciting time of year for the vegetable gardener. Seeds started over the next few weeks will be providing you with a bounty in just a few short months. Seed starting is easier than you may think if you follow a few simple steps.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, Feb. 12 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $8 million.

Nevada panel approves more money to protect governor

The Interim Finance Committee approved an additional $15,500 to cover additional costs related to protecting Gov. Steve Sisolak, who travels more frequently than his predecessor.