‘People chose not to listen’: Teachers say they tried to warn DCF before 2-year-old died

WHITMAN, MASS. (WHDH) - Whitman teachers say they tried to warn state officials about the danger a 2-year-old faced before she died in December, with her mother charged in the death.

“There were so many things that could have stopped this, there were people who could’ve stopped this that chose not to listen,” said teacher Michelle Carter.

At a vigil for Lyric Farrell on Sunday, daycare teachers recalled Farrell as “the happiest, joyful child.” Farrell died in December after being brought to the hospital with a “non-accidental traumatic head injury” and her mother, Shaniqua Leonard, has been charged with reckless endangerment of a child.

The state Department of Children and Families took custody of Leonard’s children in 2017, but she got them back last month. Carter said Farrell’s sunny demeanor changed when her mother regained custody.

“She wasn’t with her mom for so long, then they started doing visitations, then sleepovers, and you could see a change from Friday to Monday,” Carter said.

“We tried to express to DCF and different people it wasn’t in her best interest,” said teacher Jackie Freestone. “It’s really devastating for us who were with her every day. She loved to dance and she loved music. I feel badly we couldn’t help her more than we were able to.”

Leonard’s other children, who range in age from 12 to 1-year-old twins, are now back in custody of DCF.


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