Sanford elementary school teacher struck student in face, police say

Clorinda Megaro arrested on charges of child abuse

SANFORD, Fla. - A Seminole County teacher has been released from jail after allegedly slapping one of her special needs students for screaming, and now the boy's parents are calling for the teacher to never be allowed inside a classroom again.

Bentley Elementary School teacher Clorinda Megaro, 60, of Winter Springs, walked out of the Seminole County jail Friday evening. She hid under a sweater, while keeping quiet about the scream and slap that landed her behind bars with a felony child abuse charge.

Police arrested her for slapping a 10-year-old autistic boy inside her classroom because he wouldn't stop screaming, according to Sanford police.

The boy's parents knew something was wrong when their son came home from school Wednesday.

"He came home that night crying, to the point his shirt was saturated with tears," said the boy's mother, Laura, who asked we not use her last name so as not to identify her son.

Laura said her autistic son does not speak and could not explain what happened here inside his special needs classroom, but two of his teacher's aides did.

According to the police report, the aides told investigators the boy screamed for no apparent reason. Megaro told him to "shut up" twice, then told her aide, "My first instinct is to slap him," said the report. The child screamed again and the aides said she "smacked him on the left cheek" with enough force to leave redness but no injury.

Mom and dad had one reaction. The boy's father, Randy, said he felt rage when he learned what police said happened to his boy. He said he felt the teacher's crime was premeditated.

"That's traumatizing for any child, let alone a kid that can't tell us that," said Laura, whose reaction was complete disbelief. "I couldn't imagine that my child -- probably the most vulnerable student at Bentley Elementary -- was subjected to something like that."

Megaro told investigators she never slapped the boy, but gently cupped her hand over his mouth and told him to use "indoor voices."

However, even that bothers the boy's parents who said a child with autism should be encouraged to be verbal.

They have one message for this teacher.

"Don't ever put your hands on a child again," said Laura, as she spoke directly into a Local 6 camera. "Retire and don't ever work around children again."

According to the police report, the school's principal said Megaro has already been reassigned out of the classroom, but the boy's parents fear they may never know if their son has ever been hit before.

They credit the teacher's aide who alerted authorities for bringing the allegations to light, but wonder why those allegations were not heard by school leaders for more than a day.

A school board spokesperson tells Local 6, Megaro is an ESE teacher at the school, whose students are autistic. She received her substitute certificate with the school board in September, and was hired as an ESE teacher in October.

According to the school board, prior to working in Seminole County, Megaro was a Special Education teacher at Public School 56 in Queens, New York. They say Megaro does not have any prior incidents of abuse on her record.

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