Family says daughter with disability has been abused at Richmond school

Posted at 11:15 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-28 23:26:10-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's easy to see the love Nurry Menijibar and Wilmer Matamoros have for their daughter, Gisella.

"She's the center of happiness in our home," said Menijibar, through a translator.

Gisella was born with a genetic disorder that affects her speech and she has low mobility skills.

She's in Richmond Public Schools' Exceptional Education program, which requires an aid to be with her at all times.

Nurry and Wilmer always thought their daughter was safe at school, but through a translator, they told CBS 6 that they no longer feel that way.

Back in January, Nurry said she received a call from Broad Rock Elementary School asking her to pick Gisella up.

"I felt scared," said Menijibar.

When she arrived, she was told her daughter's fingernail had been ripped off after it got caught in a doorway.

Gisella injuries

"The one on one told me when she was lowering herself that Gisella had put her hand in the door and that was how her fingernail had gotten removed," said Nurry.

However, Nurry said she didn't believe that story.

"It appeared very strange to me that my daughter would have gotten her hand caught in the door like that when she has someone who is supposed to be watching her," she said.

The family took Gisella to the emergency room.

The parents said that's when they noticed bruises and a bite mark on Gisella's arm; injuries they said were never mentioned when Gisella was picked up at school.


Nurry said the school representative later told them the bruising could have been a result of a rash.

"She's never had any kind of an allergy so there's no way she got bruises from some kind of allergic reaction," she said.

Child Protective Services (CPS) was contacted to investigate, and a letter provided to CBS 6 by the parents showed they found evidence of the child abuse and or neglect, but no mention of who was responsible.

The family also contacted Richmond Police, but no charges have been filed.

A spokesperson for the police department said there was no update on the case at this time.

"It physically makes me sick," said Vicki Beatty, an advocate for students with disabilities.

Beatty is now helping the family with their case.


She said it is concerning to her and the family that the aide continued to work with Gisella, even while CPS was investigating, until the girl's mother requested a change.

"It's a system-wide failure for this little girl and this family," said Beatty.

Like Gisella's parents, Beatty said the story doesn't add up.

"There is no way that a child with the level for lack of a better way of putting it, disability that she has to be able to slam, isolate her middle finger to slam it in a door and have that nail fly off," said Beatty.

Gisella's parents have since moved her to a new school, but they said they won't stop searching for answers about what happened.

"I have the responsibility to fight for this, to fight for my daughter," said Gisella's father.

CBS 6 reached out to Richmond Public Schools regarding the parents' concerns.

A spokeswoman said the situation is a confidential matter.

"District administrators have been working with the parents to ensure that this matter is resolved appropriately and will take every feasible action to ensure the safety and well-being of their child," said spokeswoman, Kenita Bowers.

Bowers also said the findings of the CPS investigation will guide the district's next steps in handling this matter.