Four staff members at a school in Michigan have been arrested after investigators discovered that a 12-year-old boy at the school had been starved and abused for years before they finally stepped in.
According to WOOD, the school staff members are reportedly facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly failing to report suspected child abuse for up to two years before the boy was finally discovered starved next to railroad tracks in Berrien County.
Authorities say Three Oaks Elementary School principal Heidi Clark, special education teacher Diane Balling, teacher Sherrie Bender, and guidance counselor Matt Cook of St. Joseph have all been charged with two counts of failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Officials say there was clear evidence that the boy was being starved given his low weight and aggressive behavior when trying to obtain food, but nobody at the school filed a report.
Finally, last August, a railroad worker discovered the starving boy on the side of the railroad tracks hours after he was reported missing.
According to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office, the boy weighed just 47 pounds when he was finally found.
Authorities say the boy was bruised and dehydrated with old cigarette burns and a cut on his lip when he was taken to the hospital.
The boy later told police he ran away from home because he “was tired being treated like a dog and he didn’t think he would reach his 13th birthday.”
According to reports, the boy said his father and stepmother rarely allowed him to eat, so he was hungry and tired all the time.
As WOOD reports, the young boy’s father, Aaron Zemke, and his stepmother, Alicia Zemke, were both charged with child abuse, torture, and several other felony charges.
Prosecutors say nobody at the school reported what they had seen going on with the boy to the Department of Health and Human Services until it was almost too late.
WOOD shared this story on Facebook, where many commenters agreed that the four school staff members should share blame for the boy’s condition.
“Those school staff persons obviously don’t care about their students. If they don’t care enough to help a child that underweight and starving, then they don’t belong around children. They should all lose their jobs!” one commenter wrote.
“This is so sad all the way around. I will never understand how parents can abuse their children. Shame on everyone who hurt and ignored him. This boy needed someone to help and protect him and everyone he came into contact with before he was found failed him,” another added.