Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FLORIDA EXCLUSIVE: Alleged abuse on special needs student in school

SPECIAL NOTE: Four other schools in Lee County (Pelican Elementary School, Royal Palm Exception School, Three Oaks Elementary, and Trafalgar Elementary School) have had similar allegations leveled at them.

By Melissa Cabral, WINK News
Story Created: Sep 22, 2008 at 4:20 PM EDT
Story Updated: Sep 22, 2008 at 6:16 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - FIRST ON WINK: Allegations of abuse at a Lee County Elementary School.

A parent claims seeing two teachers laying on top of his 5-year-old special needs child.

WINK News confirms the Department of Children and Families is investigating.

Terry Mattox says he dropped off medication at Gulf Elementary School and when a nurse called his daughters classroom, "I heard my daughter over the phone just screaming her head off. It was pure terror."

He says other children were in the room witnessing it happen.

Mattox says his daughter suffered injuries including run burn, bruising, and scratches.

According to the police report, the little girl began having a violent episode and instructors were trying to restrain her.

Mattox says, "I can see if you're trying to keep a child from hurting themselves and restrain them but that's no way to go about it. Don't lay across her head."

WINK News asked for the Florida Department of Education's policy on restraining children. The recommendations state teachers are allowed to use reasonable force as necessary to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment... and reasonable force cannot be excessive cruel or unusual in nature. It also says it's the school districts responsibility to maintain an orderly, safe environment.

The Lee County School District denied our request for an on camera interview but provided this written statement:

"As you are aware, the law prohibits the District from providing information on a specific student or a situation involving a specific student. That being said, when the District was made aware of the situation you've referenced, it followed procedure and conducted a preliminary investigation. After District officials spoke with the parties involved while compiling preliminary information, it was determined that no further action was necessary. Staff responded appropriately and in accordance with the training they received for physically restraining students who are acting out in a physically violent way (e.g. hitting their heads on the ground or against the wall, flailing their arms or kicking wildly, etc.) Restraint is only performed to prevent a student from injuring themselves or others. I believe the Cape Coral Police Department was also involved in some capacity and I am unaware of that outside, independent agency finding any cause for further action. I would refer you to the Cape Coral Police Department for more information on their investigation concerning this matter."

Related News: http://tcfpbis.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-details-prior-allegations-for.html

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