Parents say autistic child was assaulted at school

CHARLESTON -- The parents of an autistic child are suing the Kanawha County Board of Education after they claim it was negligent in caring for their child while he was at school. Megan Carpenter, a teacher at Elk Center Elementary School, and Cathi Bradley, the principal at the school, were also named as defendants in the suit. C.S. was diagnosed with autism, but is considered highly functional and was enrolled at the elementary school in Mink Shoals, where he was placed in a classroom designated for exceptional students, but was frequently referred to as a special education room, according to a complaint filed July 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court. Clark H. Samples III and Heather S. Samples claim the defendants supervised C.S. without regard to his needs as a child with autism and without regard to his individualized education plan. The defendants improperly restrained C.S. in the course of their supervision of him in Rifton Chairs, according to the suit. The plaintiffs claim C.S. was acutely aware that he was being forcibly restrained by straps and was immobilized in a chair and Heather Samples specifically requested that such forcible restraint cease. At one point, Heather Samples came to the school and discovered that her child had been restrained and was crying without any consoling from the staff, according to the suit. The plaintiffs claim the defendants also ignored C.S.'s cues that he had to use the bathroom, which resulted in him wetting himself. The defendants then insisted that C.S. would be permitted in the school only if he was fitted with pull-ups, which humiliated C.S., according to the suit. C.S.'s parents claim the defendants further humiliated him by filing truancy charges against C.S. even though they knew and understood what the issue was which compelled C.S.'s absence. On other occasions, C.S. was literally caged by placement within an enclosure which the defendants would leave unsupervised, according to the suit. The plaintiffs claim the defendants failed to provide any supervision and on one occasion, C.S. was found naked in an area next to the swimming pool and was about to jump into the pool, which was unguarded. As a result of the defendants actions, C.S. was placed in a private school at a significant expense to his parents, however, at the private school C.S. has flourished, according to the suit. The plaintiffs claim the defendants caused C.S. to suffer emotional distress that was severe in nature and was such that no reasonable person could be expected to endure. Carpenter and Bradley's actions constitutes assault and battery; false imprisonment; and negligence, according to the suit. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Dana F. Eddy. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster. Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1278

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