Saturday, November 1, 2008

CA: Autistic student wanders from Lake View School playground

SPECIAL NOTE: This is the same school that had a lawsuit filed against it when a child with autism had his nose broken during a prone restraint.

April 16, 2008

Staff could not locate the 5-year-old boy for 10 minutes, a caller tells police.

HUNTINGTON BEACH – A 5-year-old boy with autism wandered from Lake View Elementary School's playground Tuesday.

Huntington Beach police said they received a call from the school about the incident.

The boy could not talk because of his autism and was found after 10 minutes, transcripts of the call said.

Staff found the student after a group of neighbors came running across Slater Avenue pointing to an apartment building across the street, the caller said.

Police and district officials said they did not have specifics about where the boy was found.

In January, a Lake View parent filed a claim against the Ocean View School District and the city alleging that his now 8-year-old autistic boy was left with a broken nose, bruises and scratches after two teachers used a controversial restraining technique to calm him down.

Former Lake View Elementary School teacher Gina Messig and assistant teacher Mai Vo used "prone restraint" to control a special education student when he started throwing objects in the classroom and hitting teachers, according a school report of the Sept. 6 incident.

The two teachers held the child's leg and arm while the student was face down on the floor, the school report said. Prone restraint – which means the person is held face down – is rarely used and is usually the last resort to control a child, experts say.

District officials are conducting an investigation into the Tuesday incident, deputy superintendent Beverly Hempstead said.

"With all of our campuses, we have school safety and school emergency plans," she said. "Our first and major priority is the … safety of the students."

Lake View School staff declined to comment.

No report was taken by the Huntington Beach Police Department because there was no indication of criminal behavior, spokesman Dave Bunetta said.

Contact the writer: or 714-445-6696

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