Parents Say Children with Autism Abused at Rocklin School

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ROCKLIN-

The parents of two children with autism at Rocklin's Breen Elementary School filed legal papers Thursday, claiming their children's teacher physically abused them.

The parents spoke publicly about it Thursday, saying they are upset with the school because they found out about the alleged abuse from police.

"I failed my son because my job is to protect him and I didn't," father Keith Caldwell said.

Caldwell is brought to tears at the thought of his autistic, 10-year-old son being physically and verbally abused by his own special education teacher.

"My son is trying to tell me something and he's not able to," Caldwell said. His son does not speak.

Caldwell isn't alone. Jenn Hugunin also has a child with autism at Breen.

"As a parent, you can't even describe the horror and the shock of being contacted by the police department, telling you that your child has been a victim of child abuse in their classroom by their teacher," Hugunin told FOX40.

The parents of the two students filed a claim Thursday against the Rocklin Unified School District, alleging the teacher, whom they identify as Sherry McDaniel, physically and psychologically abused their children.

The claim also accuses the school's principal of being aware of the alleged abuse, and doing nothing.

"Remarkably, not one incident has been documented as occurring in this class," Peter Alfert, the families' attorney, said.

The Rocklin Police Department says it began an investigation back in May after an anonymous tipster, who later turned out to be the teacher's aide, reported the alleged abuse.

"From our aspect, it's a criminal case," Rocklin Police Captain Lon Milka said.

The parents say they are shocked and feel betrayed that the person entrusted with care of their children is the same one who allegedly abused them.

"She yanked him through the chair back opening and it resulted in bruises and scrapes," Hugunin said.

"The lady threw him out of the room, onto the step, onto the metal setps outside the room," father Pat Hugunin said.

The Hugunins say their son is now home schooled because he terrified to return to his classroom.

The Caldwell family said, in one incident, the teacher ordered her staff out of the classroom so she could be alone with their son.

"Her first question is, 'Does he look like he has any bruises on him?'" mother Nicole Hill said. "As a mom, I can't explain what that feels like because whatever happened to him in that room, I am never going to find out."

The parents said their son's actions in the middle of the night speak louder than anything he can communicate to them.

"Soaking wet," Caldwell said. "He had been potty trained for years and now, all of a sudden, he's lost his potty training."

The Rocklin Unified School District released this statement later Thursday afternoon:

"The Rocklin Unified School District is committed to the safety of all students. However, the District has a legal obligation to protect the privacy and due process rights of all parties involved and cannot comment on specifics. The District is fully cooperating with the investigation by law enforcement. The teacher was placed on administrative leave last spring when the District was made aware of these allegations. The District will take appropriate disciplinary actions as necessary."

FOX40 reached out to McDaniel through her attorney, and they responded by saying they have no comment at this time.