Austin schools sued over assault against autistic student

The Austin school district is being sued in federal court more than a 2016 classroom event in which a frustrated team member drove a trash bin and injured the face of a special needs pupil.

Jennifer Hardison, who at the time was a teacher aide at Small Middle School in Southwest Austin, pleaded guilty in February 2017 to misdemeanor assault bodily harm following initially being charged with a felony. She had been given two years of probation and surrendered her teaching license.

The record says the school district didn’t react to a petition the mom made days ahead of the assault to modify the structure of her son’s oversight and to remove Hardison from the classroom.

“It’s really simple to target her for her failures, and that’s honest, that is appropriate, but the larger problem is the duty of school districts to train people correctly in order that they can manage kids with special needs,” stated the mother’s attorney, Martin Cirkielsaid

An Austin schools spokeswoman on Wednesday said the district doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

According to the suit, the boy is autistic and bipolar and suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He fights with behavioral problems although his intelligence is average, the lawsuit states.

According to the suit, the mother called a meeting on March 24, 2016, together with college officials to discuss her son’s relationship with Hardison and asked that Hardison be removed from the classroom. The officials refused the petition because there was no one to replace Hardison, the lawsuit states. They came up to help the boy and Hardison develop a connection.

The assault occurred on March 30. According to Hardison’s arrest affidavit, she became outraged after the boy intentionally knocked her drink from her desk and into a trash can. A witness told police Hardison threw a plastic garbage can from 12 to 14 feet, striking the boy in the face. According to the suit, he suffered a one-inch indent on his right cheekbone, a one-inch bleeding gash on the ideal side of his lip and a broken tooth.

Following the incident, the boy stopped eating for six weeks and lost 15 pounds, stopped smiling and covered his face to conceal the tooth and his changing teeth, the suit states.

The mum’s issues with Hardison obsolete to the prior school year, according to the lawsuit. The document says that in May 2015 she voiced concern about Hardison’s care in a conversation with an assistant principal and requested that the aide never be left alone with her son.


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