13-year-old autistic boy dies after being held face down for an hour by school staff after he became violent
The boy was severely autistic and had allegedly started getting violent, following which the staff of the school is said to have to put him in a restraining hold
A school in El Dorado County has come under fire for using excessive restraining techniques that allegedly resulted in the death of a 13-year-old autistic boy. According to the Sacramento Bee, a source revealed that the student was subjected to a 'prone' restraint, which involves holding the subject face down to ensure they don't move. The student is said to have been restrained in the manner for almost an hour.
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Anthony Prencipe told the publication in a statement that the boy was severely autistic and had allegedly started getting violent, following which the staff of the school is said to have to put him in a restraining hold. The spokesperson also revealed that medical assistance was called after the boy became unresponsive. It is unclear as to what triggered the violence or for how long he had been in the hold.
School is in session at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills after a 13 year old boy died. The autistic student became unresponsive after he was restrained in a prone position (lying face down). Two days later he died in a hospital. @FOX40 pic.twitter.com/9LmmPYcKCn— Pedro Rivera (@PedroRiveraTV) December 7, 2018
The boy was then taken to Mercy Hospital of Folsom, and later transferred to UC Davis Medical Center where he passed away, the spokesperson revealed. The sheriff's office was told of the incident two days later, on November 30. The date of the actual incident when the boy died is still unclear. Mysteriously, in the first emergency call, the spokesperson said that the student was described as 6 feet tall and weighing 280 pounds. The student has still not been identified by the police.
The death is not being looked at as an official criminal investigation, the spokesperson said. "We are going to look at the totality of the circumstances, and make a decision based on what’s there," he said. The sheriff's department also revealed that in 2018 alone, the department has received 27 calls regarding incidents at Guiding Hands School. The calls have been regarding incidents of "ringing alarms to mental health-related concerns," reported Sacramento Bee.
The California Department of Education announced last week that they have suspended the certification of the school — Guiding Hands School on Windplay Drive. Bill Ainsworth, the spokesman for the California Department of Education, said, "The suspension means the school will not be able to accept additional students. In the meantime, the department is continuing its investigation to see if further action is necessary."
On Thursday, the school also issued a statement regarding the incident, saying, "It is with heavy hearts that we share the very difficult news that a beloved member of our school community has passed away. Out of respect for the family, and the ongoing investigation, we are unable to share full details at this time."
However, this isn't the first time the school has come on the radar for the alleged use of excessive restraint. A special education K-12 school, the school was previously sued by a teenage student, Tracee Lamerson for forced restraint in 2002 and 2003. Deborah Lamerson, her mother, and Tracee told the Bee that during her time at the school, she went through an incident where she broke her arm accidentally on the bus and wanted to speak to her mother. The school allegedly did not let her make the call. Moreover, instead of giving her medical attention, they put in a four-point hold after she became agitated at the refusal.
Lamerson ended up puking during the restraint and was allegedly made to clean up the mess, the Bee reported. "I was so afraid to go back," she said, "I don’t like that they are still open and that they can restrain anyone."