School nurse fired, allegedly said special needs kids need euthanizing

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A nurse with the Jonesboro School District has been fired for comments she allegedly made in a classroom of students and teachers in early March. According to a letter written from Superintendent Doctor Kim Wilbanks to Ms. Marilyn Snyder, Snyder was notified she'll be recommended to be fired by the Jonesboro School Board. The letter stated Snyder said "all special education students need to be euthanized and wiped off the face of the Earth." The comment was reportedly said at the Jonesboro Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School.

"A special hearing was conducted last evening by the Jonesboro Public School District School Board to consider a recommendation to terminate the employment of a school nurse. At the request of the employee and as appropriate under applicable law, the hearing was held in closed session. After conducting the hearing in closed session, the School Board reconvened in public session and unanimously adopted each of the reasons upon which the recommendation of terminate was based. Upon motion made and seconded, the Board then unanimously voted to terminate the nurse's employment," said Wilbanks.

Some parents were satisfied with the school's decision to terminate Snyder's employment.

"The immediate reaction was heartbreak and just the fact someone could say that about one of these precious children," said Paula Beavers, who raises a special needs child. "The thought of someone wishing that he would not be on this Earth or that he should be put to sleep like a dog, wow. I mean, how do you even comprehend that as a parent?"

Beavers said her 8-year old son has autism and has attended the VPA for several years. She said he loves his teachers.

"He calls them by name, asks for them on Saturdays when he doesn't go to school," said Beavers. "He loves to learn. He loves to do new things and we just really celebrate him being a part of our family."

Beavers said she's contacted the school to see if her son has had contact with Snyder.

"I don't think he was involved in it, but I do want to make sure on that," said Beavers. "I'm very pleased to see that it was a unanimous vote, that there were no questions and no reservations as to what needed to be done."

"This is someone who is in a place of authority over your child," said Beavers. "When I do drop him off, it is a total trust and it is a total, you know, I'm giving them him for the day and I know I might not know every detail that has gone on or he can't tell me."

In a telephone conversation, Former Jonesboro School District Nurse Marilyn Snyder of Jonesboro says she "didn't do anything wrong." Snyder said she has been a nurse for 34 years and eight as a school nurse.  "I've always been a child advocate," she said.

When asked if her words might have been misconstrued, Snyder said it was possible.  She said at the time she and three other people were talking about how some special needs children are often "abused and neglected.  I said if the parents didn't take care of them they should be euthanized.  But I didn't say one word against those kids."

She said it was a "bad choice of words" and that her "heart is just broken."

Since news of her termination was made public, Snyder says she has been "attacked" on Facebook and likened it to a "witch hunt."

Snyder concluded by saying, "God knows my heart.  He knows what I said and I can live with that because He knows I didn't say those things."

According to Don Mixon, the school's attorney, Snyder can appeal the decision for termination, but he said it's not expected. Mixon said Snyder requested a private hearing at Tuesday's Jonesboro School Board Meeting.

The former school nurse says she plans to hire an attorney and appeal the school board's decision.

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