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Clark County schools sued over autistic boy’s broken wrist

Updated November 5, 2018 - 5:36 pm

The mother of an autistic student is suing the Clark County School District after a staff member allegedly broke her son’s wrist. It’s one of several lawsuits pending against the district involving disabled students.

The complaint, filed on behalf of Jennifer Miles and her son in District Court last month, claims that the nonverbal student at Variety School in Las Vegas has never been known to exhibit behavior that would cause damage to himself or others. Yet in March, an unidentified staff member restrained him and broke his wrist while applying “excessive and unnecessary force,” it says.

“The March 22 incident was extremely upsetting and traumatic to both (the student) and his mother, causing severe emotional distress and anxiety,” the complaint said. “(He) was forced for months to wear a cast, which in addition to the substantial discomfort made bathing (him) nearly impossible due to his inability to understand the need to keep the cast dry.”

The school has declined to provide video of the incident, according to the lawsuit, or to elaborate on the need for the physical restraint.

Douglas Gerrard, the family’s lawyer, said the district also has refused to tell them who broke the child’s wrist.

“It’s been very frustrating for the family,” he said, noting that the student is still enrolled at Variety. “There’s very few schools that are set up to deal with a special needs child like our client’s son.”

The lawsuit seeks over $50,000 in damages.

Another lawsuit, filed in federal court last week, claims that the district denied a free public education to another autistic student after changing his school and educational program.

David and Terra Shepard filed the complaint on behalf of their son, identified as KS, who was enrolled in the autism program at Faiss Middle School. They challenged his move to a different program, known as functional life skills, in a different school.

Moving the student to another school and program is discriminatory and unnecessary, as his needs and his individual Education Plan — required for students with disabilities — can be met at Faiss, the complaint states.

“A ‘typical’ student would not be forced to change schools halfway through the school year,’” the lawsuit states.

Terra Shepard said the program Faiss uses is effective for her son.

“He has the teachers, he’s formed attachments, he’s happy to go to that school,” she said. “Just like any other child, it’s a disruption; it’s hard. And especially with a child like my son who thrives on consistency and routine and knowing what to expect, the change — that would be disruptive.”

The complaint follows a similar lawsuit filed last year in federal court by the parents Sig and Lori Rogich, who also dispute the special education provided for their child. The Rogiches’ lawsuit is pending.

The district declined to comment on any of the lawsuits.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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