Saturday, June 2, 2007

Special-ed aide gets probation

Former instructor pleaded no contest to child abuse
LANCASTER - A former special education instructional aide in the Palmdale School District was sentenced Friday to three years' probation after she pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of child abuse.

Gloria Kleeh, 61, who was unable to be in court because of her ailing health, also was banned from working as a teacher or teacher's aide and from being with children without adult supervision during her probation period.

"The People feel the defendant's medical condition is such that she is physically unable to serve a jail sentence or community labor," Deputy District Attorney Lauren Crais said. "Although the defendant's medical conditions are legitimate, they in no way excuse her conduct. Her violent actions toward children were abhorrent and inexcusable."

Crais requested that Kleeh also be placed on house arrest, but Commissioner John Murphy denied it, citing Kleeh's acute medical condition, which was not specified. She is housebound and facing the possibility of serious surgery, he said.

"She can't get out of the bed she's in. She is unable to leave the house without assistance given her present condition," Murphy said.

Kleeh was charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty
to a child by inflicting injury. The victims were a boy and a girl, both 7 at the time of the fall 2004 incidents at Manzanita Elementary School.
The mother of the boy, Jennifer Alvarado, told the court she no longer trusts people and is fearful that her son might fall victim to abuse again.

"I'm scared to take my 2-year-old to day care," Alvarado said. "It's not fair for her to walk away without her being punished."

Sareena Haff said her daughter has nightmares, tried to commit suicide three times and has been placed in a facility out of the Antelope Valley area.

"I want justice done for all the children," Haff said.

Alvarado only became aware of the incident involving her son when she got a subpoena in July 2005 from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office regarding Kleeh's case, according to the attorney who has filed several civil lawsuits against the district.

One of the lawsuits alleges that the boy and his classmates were subjected to abuse, including "closed fist punches to his head, poking of his chest with a stick, beatings on body with a pipe, pushing and holding (him) down ... to his desk, and verbal degradation and abuse."

According to police documents, school officials did not report any of the incidents to local authorities as required by state law, the lawsuit said.

The criminal case was filed after authorities were contacted by witnesses, the lawsuit said.

District officials said a substitute teacher and a substitute aide had witnessed an incident involving the boy and reported it to the principal, and authorities were contacted. The parents, however, were not notified, officials said.

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