Rockland special education teacher charged with abusing children in her care

STONY POINT, New York (WABC) -- A Rockland County special education teacher is under arrest, accused of abusing children in her care.

Police say 43-year-old Yessenia Vasquez, of Garnervile, was taken into custody Thursday following an investigation by the Stony Point Police Detective Bureau that began after a complaint to the New York State Child Abuse Hotline in January.

It is alleged that Vasquez physically and mentally abused several special needs children under her care between January 1, 2016 and November 28, 2016, including locking one in a closet several times, at Stony Point Elementary School.

"Obviously this is a very unfortunate matter," superintendent Ileana Eckert said. "We're very disturbed by the news."

The female student was reportedly locked in the closet as a time-out form of punishment to calm her down, with the North Rockland School District initially investigating in December. But after Vasquez, who has worked in the district for more than 20 years, was cleared to return and transferred to another school, the girl's parents called the hotline, which triggered the police investigation.

"Our focus today, as you can imagine, is on keeping our schools going as normal as possible, keeping our children safe, and keeping the educational process intact," Eckert said.

Vasquez is charged with four counts each of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person - child, endangering the welfare of a minor and harassment, as well as one count of unlawful imprisonment. She has been placed on administrative leave.
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