husband and wife were charged Wednesday with child neglect and educational neglect after two of their children were sent home from school last month for the fourth time with lice, the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department said.
Carla Ragland, who investigated the case for the UCSD, said the couple’s other two children also had lice. So did the parents, and the man, Kermit D. Boings, 35, 150 Bessie Gaddy Road, Unicoi, was not allowed in the county jail because he was infested with lice, she said.
Ragland said Deputy Heather Reams took the two older children from school to their residence on April 2. At the residence, Reams noticed animal feces and urine on the floors and trash scattered inside and outside. She also detected feces on top of the children’s clothing, which was piled on the floor, and in the children’s bedrooms.
“The conditions of the environment have contributed to the lice infestation, which prevents the two older children from attending school and getting an education,” Ragland said in an affidavit.
That day, live bugs and nits were seen not only on the children but also on their 33-year-old mother, Jill.
Sheriff Kent Harris said the piles of clothing were a fire hazard and the parents were not taking any steps to address the lice. He said the parents had been warned and told how to correct the problem and offered assistance.
“According to Carla and Heather, it was one of the worst cases they’ve seen of not only head lice but just filth in the house,” he said.
Ragland said the children were put in foster care for a month but returned to their home Wednesday. She said the residence was cleaned and the lice removed.
Authorities waited a month before placing charges at the request of the state Department of Children’s Services’ Child Protective Services’ division, Ragland said.