Warrant shows alleged abuse by educators

COVINGTON - The Alcovy High School teacher and paraprofessional who were arrested last week are accused of allegedly taping a student's mouth closed and placing a bar of soap in the same student's mouth on two separate occasions.

According to a warrant issued by the Newton County Sheriff's Office and obtained by The Citizen on Wednesday, the first incident occurred March 24 during school hours.

The warrant states that paraprofessional Nanette Surber, 33, of 15078 Ga. Highway 36, is accused of placing packing tape over the mouth of a 17-year-old 11th-grade student in a special needs class who NCSO spokesman Lt. Bill Watterson described as a "severely handicapped, non-verbal student."

A warrant for Derrick D. Roberts, 28, of 6200 Linwood Drive, said he is accused of repeatedly placing a bar of soap in the mouth of the same handicapped student on March 26.

Both Surber and Roberts were arrested by the NCSO on March 27 and charged with simple battery and cruelty to children in the first degree following a daylong investigation.

On March 26, a school employee reported concerns to school administrators, according to Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for the Newton County School System.

Both Surber and Roberts have been released on $3,000 bond.

Viniard said Wednesday that the teacher and the paraprofessional were both hired by the school system on July 21, 2006. Roberts also has served as assistant football and soccer coach at Alcovy this year, she said.

Watterson said in an earlier interview that no further incidents involving any other students had been reported.

Viniard said the school system will make decisions regarding Surber's and Roberts' employment status after the investigation by the NCSO is complete.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.