Possible professional misconduct in Smyrna, Del. classroom investigated

Families in Smyrna, Delaware are devastated to learn their children with special needs are at the center of an investigation alleging possible abuse in the classroom.

"It’s the worst call that you want to get about your child, especially the kind of children that we have that can’t speak for themselves," said parent Tierre Thomas.

The families tell FOX 29 there are nine children who are involved between the ages of five and six-years-old. They all attend Smyrna Elementary and are considered nonverbal with autism.

"My son is 6-years-old. He is autistic, so he’s mentally disabled. He is nonverbal, so unfortunately, he cannot communicate with us," said parent Kayla Lilly. "He is just God’s gift to this planet and he did not deserve what has happened to him."

FOX 29 reached out to the Smyrna School District, which provided this statement:

"A report was made to the Smyrna School District on February 16, 2024, alleging possible professional misconduct in a classroom at Smyrna Elementary School. As part of our multi-faceted approach to keep our students safe, we have taken all precautions, including contacting law enforcement and providing alternative staff to instruct students. The investigation is active and on-going."

Some of the parents had conversations with police after the district reached out to them on Tuesday.


Police are investigating three teachers, according to the parents, who also learned the details behind the allegations from law enforcement.

"They were being locked in the bathroom in the dark by themselves. Their hair was being pulled. Objects were being thrown at them. They were being put in timeout physically and being held there," said Thomas, who reviewed a police report.

"Locking them away where it was dark to punish them, forcefully holding them down and forcefully holding them down to the point they screamed out in pain," said Lilly. "We are all scarred for the rest of our lives, including our children, and I know me, myself, I can never trust anyone with my children ever again."

Multiple parents told FOX 29 they have reported concerns to the district before about their children.

Later Wednesday afternoon, a statement from the district superintendent was released, saying:

"Earlier today, the school district issued a statement regarding a personnel matter relating to a specific classroom at Smyrna Elementary School. While I cannot go into detail, due to the ongoing investigation, I can assure you that the professional misconduct being investigated is not sexual in nature. District staff were at the school to support students, employees, and affected parents. It is understandable that questions remain regarding this active investigation. We will continue to update parents and guardians as soon as more information is available."

Susan P. Brown, Ed. D., CSBA


Smyrna School District

FOX 29 reached out to Smyrna Police who wrote back in an email:

"This investigation is in the very early stages, and at this time we do not know if it is criminal in nature and are still working through all of the details. We are far too early on to discuss the case in any detail, as this would hinder our investigation."