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Former Manchester teacher admits assaulting, abusing special education students

By PAT GROSSMITH New Hampshire Union Leader
April 11. 2014 8:57AM

MANCHESTER -- A former McLaughlin Middle School special education teacher pleaded guilty earlier this week to pushing and dragging a non-verbal, blind 12-year-old student down a school hallway and tying another non-verbal 12-year-old special education student to a chair with a blanket.

Martine Gambale, 56, was sentenced Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Northern District, on one count of simple assault and one count of false imprisonment, both misdemeanors. She was given two, twelve-month sentences, suspended for 10 years; ordered to relinquish any and all teaching certificates to the New Hampshire Department of Education, and continue mental health counseling.

The incidents happened in the fall of 2011 and during the 2011-12 school year. A gym teacher saw Gambale push the student on the back with both her hands several times to get him to move when he refused to go back to her classroom.

When the student sat on the floor, Gambale grabbed both his wrists and then dragged him down the school hallway. The gym teacher reported the incident to the school's administration, but police were not notified of the assault until months later in April of 2012, according to Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia M. LaFrance.

The second incident happened during the 2011-12 school year. Gambale admitted to tying another non-verbal 12 year old special education student to a chair.

Another McLaughlin teacher saw the student tied to the chair by the waist with a blanket that was knotted in the back. The special education student was yelling, screaming and dragging the chair around the room.

As before, the teacher reported the incident to the school's administration but, like the assault, it was not reported to police until April 2012, according to LaFrance.

She was placed on paid administrative leave in April 2012 when the accusations were reported to police. Her employment ended at the close of the 2012-13 school year, according to Matthew H. Upton, the school district's attorney.

As part of her sentence, Gambale was ordered not to teach, or be in a position of authority, over children or handicapped individuals, in any capacity paid or unpaid. She also must appear in court every six months for the next ten years to affirm that she is in compliance with that prohibition.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Rose-Maire Balboni and First Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Maureen O'Neil prosecuted the case.

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