Indiana parents settle their lawsuit after accusing the school district of withholding their autistic daughter.
In 2018, Indiana-based Heather and Charles Castle filed a federal lawsuit accusing LaPorte County School District staff of strapping their autistic daughter Kennedi (then 7 years old) to a makeshift chair in the classroom. The child had been enrolled in the district’s special education program since pre-school. In 2013, the family created an individual plan for them to attend the Life Skills classroom from kindergarten through second grade.
As part of the lawsuit, the castles had demanded unspecified damages for violations of civil rights and the constitution. Now the couple has reached an agreement. However, her lawyer, Corbin Fowler, said the terms are confidential.
The Castles’ daughter is diagnosed with both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The suit mentions that Kennedi “has difficulty adapting to change, and she struggles with conversations or games and is sensitive to stimuli, but she is also intelligent and artistically gifted.”
Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah from Pexels
The parents’ lawsuit, filed three years ago in June, showed that a teacher and two paraprofessionals from Kingsford Heights Elementary School tied the girl to a shackle chair designed by the teacher’s father. “The team had held them back,” said the allegations from “behavioral concerns”.
Parents cited the Indiana Administrative Code in court documents, which prohibits the use of physical restraint in schools “except in situations where the student’s behavior is an imminent danger to themselves or others.” It also prohibits the use of any “mechanical restraint” or device attached to or adjacent to a student that the student cannot remove and that restrict the student’s freedom of movement. ”Additionally, Kennedi’s 504 plan specifically states that she would not be held back.
The locks began to worry that something more happened after Kennedi was “treated after she returned from school with no socks, shoes, or coat and then came home the next month with bruises that her teacher said they were caused by a fall. ” Kennedi “also had nightmares, suffered from extreme meltdowns and lost interest in art”.
The parents said they knew nothing about the shackle chair or what exactly was happening because when Charles put his daughter down, “the school prevented him from accompanying his daughter to her classroom every morning.” After the couple began noticing the spots on their daughter’s skin and the new behavior, “he went in in the fall of 2017 and discovered a homemade wooden restraint table with his daughter’s name and a brown belt next to it.”
At that point, the couple knew that the bruises and the marked change in Kennedi’s behavior were caused by staff “belting their daughter to a plywood chair, causing bruises and abrasions on her body,” the lawsuit said . They also attributed this to the fact that Kennedi “exhibited new and troubling behaviors at home that included emotional outbursts and a refusal to wear a seat belt.”
“We’re very pleased with the deal,” said Heather Castle. “Of course, the comparison is for Kennedi. It is something that no family or child should go through; it shouldn’t be like that. “
Kevin Vanderground, the school’s attorney, said his client denied the family’s allegations despite the settlement.
The lawsuit over alleged autistic girls detained in class has been settled
Parents are suing LaPorte school district for alleging the teacher used a homemade chair to restrain an 8-year-old autistic girl