3 California teachers charged in death of autistic teen who was restrained for over an hour due to violent behavior

The 13-year-old boy became unresponsive and died two days after the incident in 2018.


                            3 California teachers charged in death of autistic teen who was restrained for over an hour due to violent behavior

EL DORADO, CALIFORNIA: It has been almost a year since a teenager with autism passed away after being physically restrained at a California school for students with special needs. Several school employees are being charged for their alleged roles in his death. 

On Tuesday, November 12, the El Dorado County District Attorney had announced that they would file charges against three people who were working at the Guiding Hands School Inc, which is a school located in the El Dorado Hills. The executive director and site administrator, Cindy Keller, the school's principal, Staranne Meyers, and a special education teacher, Kimberly Wohlwend were all charged.

The three women were charged with a felony involuntary manslaughter due to the death of Max Benson. Aside from these charges, Guiding Hands School, Inc. as a corporation is also being charged with one count of felony involuntary manslaughter, a statement from the prosecutor revealed. 

Max Benson, 13, who was autistic died after he was restrained by staff due to some violent behavior. The child eventually became unresponsive. The authorities revealed that a teacher performed CPR but two days later Benson died while at the UC Davis Medical Center. The California Department of Education found that the agency had violated state rules when the staff put Benson face down in a restraint position for almost an hour. 

The statement also reads, "This charge is based on the November 28, 2018, prone restraint of a minor student by Kimberly Wohlwend that resulted in that student’s death. This case is being filed after a lengthy, multi-agency investigation into the facts and circumstances that led to the death of this student".

Guiding Hands School Inc. is a privately operated school that is publicly funded. They provide educational services for students with needs that are unique and exceptional so much so that they can't adjust in a public school setting. The statement continued, "On December 5, 2018, The California Department of Education suspended the certification of Guiding Hands School, Inc., and the school was subsequently closed".

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