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Teacher charged with child neglect

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Investigation began in October 2012

By Eryn Worthington

INVERNESS — A Pleasant Grove Elementary first-grade teacher, arrested Thursday in relation to charges of neglecting a 12-year-old, has resigned from her job.

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Police arrested Matthew Bunce, 35, and Hildi Bunce, 37, of Inverness, on a charge of child neglect without causing great bodily harm. Bond was set at $2,000 for each of them.

Hildi Bunce has been an employee of the school district since 2006. She began working for Pleasant Grove Elementary School in 2008.

According to a Citrus County Sheriff’s Office report, on Oct. 18, 2012, a sheriff’s office school resource officer was notified that a 12-year-old male was potentially being abused.

Upon investigation, detectives discovered the child was known to open his bedroom window during the night to allow cats into his room. He also would sneak outside after everyone was asleep to bang on windows of those living in the home.

Reportedly, the child, now 13, was periodically locked in his room. At times, he was given inadequate food while others living in the home were given adequate food. He had to go to the bathroom in a bucket in his room when no one would answer his door to let him out of his bedroom.

The child was removed from the home.

Hildi Bunce was immediately removed from the classroom in October. She was reassigned with the district office, but not in the classroom, assistant superintendant Michael Mullen said.

Mullen said there is no indication that any type of abuse was taking place in the classroom and no student was affected. He said they were very responsive to the incident to ensure the safety of the children. There were no prior disciplinary reports in her file.

Hildi and Matthew Bunce turned themselves in at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. They were transported to the Citrus County Detention Facility.

Contact Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or eworthington@chronicleonline.com.