Parents say non-verbal children abused by special ed teacher on Long Island

LONG BEACH, Long Island (WABC) -- The parents of five children with autism are suing a school district on Long Island, claiming it did nothing after learning a teacher was allegedly abusing students.

The parents are filing a lawsuit against the Long Beach School District.

Special education teacher Lisa Weitzman denies any wrongdoing.

The allegations are shocking and disturbing.

These are victims that would have had no way to speak up against alleged abuse, and their parents claim they were tortured by the very people they were supposed to trust.

"I'm sick to the bottom of my stomach over it. I just don't know how anybody can be trusted in the district," said Kim Greengus, the mother of an alleged victim.

The pain on her face is visible and the anguish in her voice, palpable.

Kim and her husband Todd are devastated over allegations their autistic 14-year-old son was abused by his special needs teacher.

"He's a beautiful child. A child. He's great. It's just that he's changed. You can see he's scarred by it and he'll never get that back," Todd said.

The Greengus's are one of at least five families, alleging their special needs kids at Long Beach Middle School were subjected to years of horrific treatment.

Their teacher, Weitzman, and two teaching assistants are accused of striking the children, restraining them with zip ties, spraying aerosol in their faces, locking them in bathrooms, and verbally and sexually abusing them.

"I want them all punished. They all belong in jail," Todd said.

All of the alleged victims are non-verbal.

The Greengus's have filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against Long Beach Public Schools and the superintendent for the alleged abuse and a cover up.

Their attorney says school officials knew of the allegations in 2009.

"Nothing was done to help the kids. But there were things that were done. The superintendent and the administration, what they did was they went on a quest of conduct of intimidation and using threats to keep these teachers and keep these other witnesses quiet," said Brat Gerstman, the family's attorney.

It was an anonymous letter in 2015 that spread through the community that tipped parents off.

Superintendent David Weiss in a statement said: "The Long Beach School District has complied, and will continue to comply, with all federal and state legal requirements regarding complaints to the District about possible abuse or mistreatment of our students."

Weitzman is on paid leave and faces a hearing that could lead to her dismissal.

Her attorney Debra Wabnik denies the allegations and has filed her own claim against the district for "Falsifying charges against her in retaliation for her constant advocacy for her students."

The Greengus's though are not buying that.

They say they could clearly tell something had happened to their son.

"He would get off the bus and he would be shaking. And I didn't know how to deal with it. It wasn't the same son that I had three years prior to that," Kim said.

The Greengus's believe there are other victims whose parents may not even be aware yet of what allegedly happened.

They say the question is, how many more, and for how long was this going on.
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