The parents of five first-graders at the Ogden Schools for the Deaf and Blind filed a federal complaint Wednesday alleging their children were not only repeatedly physically abused at the hands of a teacher but that school officials did nothing to intervene.

The plaintiffs were informed of an investigation into the behaviors of the teacher, Jacquilyn M. Shasky, by Department of Child and Family Services representatives in 2004. At that time, they each received a letter stating the alleged abuse was "substantiated," as stated in documents filed at the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

However, Joseph Shasky, Jacquilyn's father, says she is innocent, that she "used customary and approved" deaf teaching methods of touching and tapping the children, who are deaf.

"There is nothing in her background that would suggest she could hurt these children," Shasky said. "If you look at the history of child abusers, wife abusers, abusers of any kind, it's not just a one-time ordeal. It stems from a lifelong deal."

The alleged abuse, as stated in court documents, includes slapping the students, pulling on their arms and hair, and emotional abuse such as cursing at or unnecessarily punishing the children. The parents of the children were unaware of the alleged abuse and claim the students were physically and emotionally unable to inform them there was a problem.

DCFS cannot comment on the case but confirms it did investigate Shasky.

The school's administration — including Theresa Martin, the school's director, and Superintendent Linda Rutledge, are also named as defendants in the complaint for not taking action against Shasky and are accused of continually attempting to cover up the alleged abuse and transferring the teacher's aides who reported it out of the school.

Martin and Rutledge are accused of falling short of their responsibility of providing a "safe environment" for the students.

The complaint states that "over the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years, Martin (or Rutledge) did not remove the children from the suspected abuser or the abuser from the children." The parents believe that as the director of the program the students were enrolled in, Martin should have monitored the situation and instituted a training program or policies that would protect the students from any such behavior.

The five complainants are asking for general and special damages of more than $20,000 per student and for a permanent injunction to keep Shasky, Martin and Rutledge from violating the protection and educational rights of future students.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be able to prove without question that she did nothing to these children except love them and teach them," Shasky said.

The school, founded in 1986, has accreditation for educating children with disabilities and behavioral problems.


E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com