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April 29, 2017

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Pahrump school officials charged in special ed abuse case

Pahrump Arrests

Holly Ann Lepisto Launch slideshow »

Four faculty members at Floyd Elementary School in Pahrump have been formally charged in connection with the alleged abuse of children in a special education class, Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi announced today.

Principal Holly Lepisto, teacher Sarah Hopkins, and classroom aides Kathryn Cummings and Phyllis Du Shane have each been charged with one count of child abuse or neglect, a category B felony, officials said. They were arrested Nov. 23.

Hopkins, Cummings and Du Shane allegedly used physical force on four students in Hopkins' special education class during the past year, according to the criminal complaint. The 5- to 7-year-old children, who have a variety of physical and mental disabilities, were subjected to "spankings," "flicking," "pushing," "slapping," "violent shaking" and "grabbing," the criminal complaint alleges.

Lepisto allegedly was repeatedly told about the abuse and said she would handle the situation, but never did. In one instance, she allegedly told a concerned teaching aide that the circumstances were normal given that it's a special education class, according to the criminal complaint.

Lepisto allegedly told a Nye County sheriff's deputy that she didn't realize corporal punishment was illegal in the school district, according to the arrest report.

More charges might follow pending the identification of additional victims, officials said. The charges carry a minimum of one year and maximum of six years in prison.

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