Former teacher arrested for locking autistic 5-year-old in supply closet

Published: May. 10, 2017 at 10:46 PM EDT
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A former Greenville County, South Carolina, teacher was arrested for using what police called cruel punishment techniques in her classroom, CBS affiliate WSPA reports.

Donna Morgan Hughes was a former special education teacher at Woodland Elementary school in Greer, South Carolina. Hughes was arrested in December on charges of unlawful neglect of a child and assault and battery.

Police said Hughes locked an autistic 5-year-old in a supply closet with no lights for 30 minutes as a form of punishment. They also said she dragged the child across the room out of chair, which injured the child.

Hughes was suspended on these accusations in March 2014, and she resigned from her position later the next month on April 7. Her teaching license was suspended by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Hughes was apparently also reprimanded in 2012 and 2013 for her unusual discipline practices.

The parents of the 5-year-old at the center of the allegations filed a report for the incident in 2014, but for reasons unknown Hughes was not charged for another two years.

The child's parents are suing the Greenville County School District, saying that officials within the district should have used the previous reprimands as red flags of Hughes' behavior.

Greenville County Schools said they could not comment on the pending lawsuit.

WSPA reached out to Hughes' attorney several times, but those calls have gone unanswered.