Special Needs Girl Says She Was Forced to Give Massages to School Aide

Sharon Bimbo and her daughter, Hazel, claim the girl was forced to give massages to a school aide.
Sharon Bimbo and her daughter, Hazel. Sharon Bimbo

A 13-year-old special needs student claimed she was forced to give massages to a school aide to avoid losing points in the Massachusetts school's reward program.

The allegations have been reported to the federal Department of Education, which agreed to investigate whether the girl was discriminated against on the basis of her sex and her disabilities.

The student, whose first name is Hazel, said she was constantly bullied about her weight and her teeth and didn't participate in physical education classes because other students made fun of her.

It was during those classes, while she sat in the bleachers, that a female school aide showed her how to massage the neck and back, as well as her inner thighs, Hazel and her mother, Sharon Bimbo, told InsideEdition.com.

"I told her before, when I was rubbing her, that I didn't want to do it because it was nasty," Hazel said. Another male aide would sometimes put his hand on Hazel's as she massaged the woman's legs, the child and her mother said.

Hazel said the female aide threatened to deduct points from the school's reward system if the girl didn't perform the massages.

Bimbo said she learned about the incidents in November, when Hazel was suspended for a day after getting into an altercation with the female aide. Hazel, who has oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD and reads at a kindergarten level, had spit at the aide, her mother said. 

Then Hazel told her mother the aide "likes it when I give her massages," Bimbo recounted. "I said, 'What?'''

Bimbo met with administrators at the School for Exceptional Studies in Lawrence and with the state's child-protection agency. The Department of Children and Families investigated the interaction between Hazel and the aides, as well the female aide's interactions another girl who said she had given massages to her.

The review said the contact did not "appear to be of a sexual nature," according to a copy of the report provided to InsideEdition.com by the family's attorney. Both aides denied having any physical contact with the students. The female aide was given a written warning, according to the DCF report, and both aides were transferred to a different section of the school.

A phone message left by InsideEdition.com with the Lawrence School District Friday was not returned. District spokesman Christopher Markuns told the Boston Globe this week school officials seriously regarded Hazel's claims.

"We conducted a thorough examination into all of these concerns immediately upon hearing them, at the conclusion of which we took appropriate action," he said. "We additionally requested and cooperated with an investigation by an outside agency, and to this date, have received findings consistent with our own."

A spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney's office told the paper the department also investigated the claims, but "at this point in time we have not identified sufficient evidence for a criminal charge."

Bimbo says her daughter was abused. She is considering suing the school district, she said. And she fears other parents have not been informed about her daughter's allegations. "I don't feel that school is safe," she said. Hazel is now being home schooled and her mother said she is looking for another special needs program for Hazel.

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