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‘Several’ warrants isssued in school district child abuse case

September 13, 2017 ·  By www.nwfdailynews.com

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Warrants were issued for several Okaloosa County School District employees Tuesday in connection to a 2016 child abuse investigation at Kenwood Elementary School.

Bill Eddins, state attorney for 1st Judicial Circuit, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that “several” individuals will receive warrants with charges ranging from child abuse to failure to report suspected child abuse.

He could not confirm the names of the individuals or the exact charges pending their arrests.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has been given the warrants to serve.

Eddie Perillo, the father of the victim, contacted the Daily News at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday and said the State Attorney’s Office had just called to tell him who was being charged.

“I feel happy that justice is going to be served,” Perillo said. “It brings everything to light. It tells people in the Okaloosa County School District who have witnessed child abuse that you can’t hide it.”

School district spokesman Henry Kelley issued a statement Tuesday afternoon confirming that arrest warrants were issued for three people and that the district will “cooperate fully with law enforcement.

“As the district has not reviewed the warrants or arrest reports, we have no further comments regarding those matters at this time,” the statement said.

According to a school district investigative document dated June 17, 2016, Kenwood Elementary teacher Marilynn Stillions was accused of abusing 6-year-old Noah Perillo, who was non-verbal at the time.

School district investigator Arden Farley confirmed in his report that Stillions used a spray bottle to “inappropriately” spray disabled students in the mouth with vinegar.

Farley also confirmed Stillions used her foot to push children down the lunchroom aisle, picked up a child by his shirt collar and waistband, denied students their lunches, threw away students’ food when they would not listen to her and stashed food in her classroom, where she ate it herself.

However, Perillo was unaware his son was the subject of the investigation until March 2017, when another parent told him.

The alleged abuse helped Perillo understand his son’s growing aggression and fear of spray bottles used to wash his hair.

The father fought with the school district for over a week to obtain a copy of the investigative report.

Despite the findings of the investigation, Stillions was able to build a successful defense based on specific stipulations in her union contract, according to the report. She cited union regulations that required an employee be notified within five days of the onset of an investigation and also that an employee be given an opportunity to respond when an administrator becomes aware of an alleged incident.

Failure to abide by those union regulations resulted in the school district being unable to take action against an employee, Stillions stated in a letter added to the report.

Stillions said her union rights also stated an investigation must be completed within the 30 calendar days of its initiation.

Her objections were upheld and none of Farley’s recommended disciplinary actions was taken. The investigation also was not added to Stillions’ personnel file.

She moved from Kenwood to Silver Sands School during the 2016-17 school year, but was removed and put on administrative leave after the Daily News published information about the investigation.

After learning about the investigation in March, Perillo filed a criminal complaint with the Sheriff’s Office, which apparently led to the criminal charges.

He did not go to the media until four months later after he became concerned that Stillions was still teaching special needs students.

“Even though charges are coming out a year later, there will be justice for my son and every other student or kid that was mistreated or abused in the school district that was covered up,” Perillo said Tuesday.

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