AURORA — A lawsuit was filed against Aurora Public Schools this week, claiming that an elementary- school teacher repeatedly restrained a developmentally disabled student by tying her to a chair.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Denver on behalf of an unnamed girl who attended Lansing Elementary School during the 2006-07 school year.

The suit claims the teacher routinely restrained the 5-year-old girl with an occupational therapy device typically used by people who are unable to sit up on their own or who have little or no body control.

The family's attorney, Jack Robinson, said the girl, who is now 8, did not need to be put in the device.

The girl has epilepsy, a cognitive impairment, developmental delays and is nonverbal, he said.

"They punished her by strapping her to this chair in the corner," Robinson said.

APS would not comment because of the pending litigation but issued a statement saying, "We would like to emphasize, however, that the Legal Center for Persons with Disabilities, after undertaking a thorough review of the matter, was satisfied with the steps we have taken."

The legal center review found that staff at Lansing engaged in a pattern and practice of "improper use of restraint and seclusion." It also said the staff did not have "adequate basis" to restrain the girl.

Among other things, it recommended that the district eliminate the use of occupational therapy devices as mechanical restraints and that special-ed teachers get more trauma and restraint training.

Robinson said the girl's mother routinely talked with the teacher and had no indication she was acting up or needed to be restrained.

He said a teacher's aide became concerned about the restraining, then went to the principal and ultimately to the legal center for a review.

The girl and her family initially transferred to another school in the district but now are living in another part of the state.

"She's doing fine," Robinson said.

Carlos Illescas: 303-954-1175 or