Disabled student abuse goes unpunished in Nev.

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Darcy Spears, a reporter at KTNV-Las Vegas, has discovered a number of disturbing stories of teachers abusing special needs students in area schools; in some cases the districts worked to keep the details of the abuse from parents and punished offending teachers lightly, if at all. According to KTNV, there are dozens such violations reported every year.

In Part 1, Spears follows a then-5-year-old autistic boy who, when he wouldn’t eat his lunch, was violently force-fed until he vomited. Police were called, but the boy’s family still weren’t able to get an incident report until they involved legal counsel.

Despite specific Nevada laws prohibiting such actions and requiring disclosure, the incident only came to light because aides to the offending teacher reported it to school administration and local police.

Nevada law says physical restraint may not be used on a pupil with a disability unless there’s an immediate threat of physical injury to students or staff, or to protect against severe property damage.
All instances must be documented and reported to the school district and the parents.

In Part 2, Spears looks at the story of a 7-year-old autistic boy whose mother says he was abused and that the school has swept the case under the rug and a whistle-blowing special education assistant who details the abuse he’s seen take place in Nevada classrooms.


GAO report: “Seclusions and Restraints: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers”

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