News Article Details

Video shows staff dragging autistic student through school hallways. Mom wants change.

Lexington Herald-Leader - 10/12/2018

Oct. 12--A video of two staff members at Tates Creek Middle School dragging a boy with autism in a school hallway has been released by Fayette County school officials through the Kentucky Open Records Act.

The child's mother Jo Grayson has said that her son sustained cuts and bruises when a teacher and a school nurse dragged him down a hallway in September. She said she first saw the video two days ago.

"I'm upset," said Grayson. "There are more questions than answers."

She has said police and child protective services have been investigating the incident that began when the child refused to get up off the gym floor. She is calling for more cameras at schools and better training for staff in dealing with children with autism.

Fayette County School officials made no new comments this week as the video was released to media outlets.

But earlier, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall had said that " while we cannot discuss individual personnel matters, we can say that in a situation involving these types of allegations, we would make a report to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and place the employee involved on administrative leave until the investigation is complete."

Grayson said Friday that she had not decided if her son was going to transfer to another middle school or be homeschooled.

The school district was overruled when it sought to fire a teacher after she dragged a nonverbal 6-year-old special needs student down a Cardinal Valley Elementary School hallway when he wouldn't comply with her orders in 2015. Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk notified Charlene Looney her contract with the district would be terminated for conduct unbecoming a teacher, and she was placed on unpaid leave. A three-member tribunal heard the teacher's appeal and reinstated her in 2016.

Caulk strongly criticized the tribunal's decision and revealed his thinking.

"Some will look at this case and say the teacher won. But the reality is that our students lost," Caulk wrote. "The tribunal unanimously agreed with us that Ms. Looney exhibited conduct unbecoming a teacher in violation of school board policy and the Professional Code of Ethics. It is unfathomable, then, that a majority of the panel would allow her to return to teaching children with special needs.

"This decision is an affront to the thousands of teachers, principals and support employees in the Fayette County Public Schools who go above and beyond every day in the service of students. Members of our community entrust us with the care and education of their children, and the vast majority of our employees rise to that calling."

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(c)2018 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

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