Alleged abuse case involving Horry County Schools principal, teacher heading to jury trial
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A case of alleged child abuse involving an Horry County elementary school teacher and principal will now head before a jury.
A preliminary hearing was held Friday for Ocean Bay Elementary special education teacher Grace McColgan and principal Rebecca Schroyer. The two were arrested in November 2022.
McColgan faces six counts of unlawful conduct toward a child, while Schroyer is charged with two counts of failing to report child abuse or neglect.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced it was taking over the case in early January 2023.
- AG’s Office takes over case of HCS teacher, principal charged in connection to abuse case
- Warrants: HCS teacher hit students, rubbed hand sanitizer in wound; principal failed to report
- S.C. Board of Education temporarily suspends Ocean Bay Elementary teacher’s certificate following arrest
Det. Paul Johnson with the Horry County Police Department took the stand during Friday’s hearing. He testified that two of the incidents involving McColgan allegedly happened in February 2022 and that teachers informed the school district, but not the police.
The detective also said the victim’s parents were told about the incidents between last September and October, but not when they first occurred.
Prosecutors later said a witness told investigators that McColgan wiped hand sanitizer on a child’s open wound, saying “I’m just gonna let it burn.” They also said she admitted to hitting the children in the back of the head when they seemed to be tired, sleeping or not paying attention.
The state also claimed the children involved also had “moderate to severe special needs,” mostly dealing with autism. Officers said most of the children involved were nonverbal and ranged in age from seven to 10 years old.
McColgan’s attorneys argued that she was wiping a child’s open wound or cut and simply told them it was going to sting.
In Schroyer’s case, her attorney said she contacted the school district when she learned of the incidents. Her charges, however, claim she didn’t report those allegations to the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
Schroyer’s attorneys argued the detective in the case did not speak to the teacher’s aide who made the initial report. They also argued the aide went to Schroyer and that the district’s human resources department was then notified. McColgan was then suspended from the classroom and sent to “some sort of education process to deal with the issues that had been raised about her” before being allowed to come back to work.
Schroyer’s defense also asked a judge to dismiss charges, while the prosecution argued that the actions taken by the school were insufficient in the case.
The judge later ruled both cases will be tried before a jury at a later date.
The parent of one of the students connected to the case is also suing the school and the district.
The lawsuit was filed last week by John Doe, listed as the parent of Jane Doe, who is described as a non-verbal special needs student who attended Ocean Bay Elementary School from August 2021 – May 2022.
Horry County Schools and Ocean Bay Elementary School are listed as the defendants in the case.
The lawsuit states that the girl was a student in Grace McColgan’s classroom.
The lawsuit claims that on Oct. 20, 2022, the father “was informed by an outside investigator that on or around February 1, 2022, Grace McColgan was caught on video punching Jane Doe.”
John Doe is asking for a jury trial and for the jury to determine how much in damages the plaintiff should receive from the defendants.
Horry County Schools does not comment on pending litigation, according to a district spokesperson.
McColgan and Schroyer have been placed on administrative leave from the school district.
The South Carolina Board of Education temporarily suspended McColgan’s teaching certificate pending the investigation.
Stay with WMBF News for updates.
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