Apopka H.S. employee bonds out after elderly neglect charge
APOPKA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
An Orange County teacher's aide accused of allowing her elderly mother to live in complete filth has been placed on unauthorized leave without pay, the school district confirmed to FOX 35 on Monday.
Rhonda Miller, 39, was granted a $1,000 bond when she faced a judge on Sunday afternoon.
Orange County School District officials said Miller has been a teacher's aide at Apopka High School since 1992, working with special education students.
Apopka police investigators told FOX 35 that Miller allowed her mother to live in horrible conditions, surrounded by feces, covered in flea bites, and lacking medical care or proper nutrition while residing at the Crosby Motor Inn.
Miller has been serving probation since 2012 for charges of check fraud and grand theft. Now, she is charged with neglecting her 83-year-old mom.
"The officers that responded are all veteran, tenured officers. They were all very, very disturbed by what they saw," said Apopka Police Sgt. Ed Chittenden. "They actually had to leave the room, because of the smell of urine and the burning in their eyes, and the insect bites all over them."
Motel owner John Crosby told FOX 35 that his workers ripped up the carpet and removed the furniture on Monday, because the room was filthy and smelled like cat waste. He said 21 cats were removed from the room. The Cat Protection Society in Eustis took thirteen of them to find them homes and is examining the remaining cats before offering them up for adoption.
Parents of students attending Apopka High School told FOX 35 they wondered how Miller could care for special education students if she struggled to care for her own mom.
"If that's her standard of taking care of herself and her mother, then what is the standard of taking care of our kids at our school?" asked parent Saily Calderon.
"The schools do the absolute best they can in going through and doing background investigations on people," Sgt. Chittenden said. "But it is a little upsetting to see that there is a teacher that would treat her mother this way."
Miller's mother was taken to Florida Hospital for high blood pressure and low oxygen levels. According to the police report, doctors believe she is showing early signs of dementia. A spokesperson with the Florida Department of Children and Families said they will work to find her an assisted living center to call her home.
The case remains under investigation.
FOX 35's Kate Burgess, Keith Landry and Vincent Postiglione contributed to this report.