Prosecutors and school officials are investigating after staff at a private school in California reportedly restrained a 13-year-old boy with autism who ultimately stopped breathing and died.
A source told The Sacramento Bee that Guiding Hands School is being investigated for a ‘prone restraint’ staff used on the unidentified teen for about an hour. The newspaper explained that this type of restraint keeps the person in a face-down position.
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Seargent Anthony Prencipe said the student—who was 6 feet and 280 pounds—was severely autistic and became violent, prompting staff to subdue him. Prencipe said at some point the boy became unresponsive, leading staff to perform CPR before he was transported to the hospital, where he died.
In addition to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Education confirmed they’re investigating the deadly incident. They also announced that they’ve suspended the K-12 school’s certificate.
“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,” department spokesman Bill Ainsworth told The Bee.
A student who reportedly attended the school from sixth to eighth grade claimed she was also restrained.
“I mean would get upset or something and they would jump on top of you,” former student Katie Kaufman told KTXL. “Even if it was like you got upset and started cursing, or something, they would just jump on top of you right away thinking you were going to start swinging.”
Kaufman said she told her mother about the staff’s form of discipline but it didn’t stop until she transferred schools.
“I would call them an abusive school, honestly. They should close it down. Honestly, I’ve thought that for the longest time,” she said.
Police said there’s no indication foul play’s involved. It remains unclear what led to the 13-year-old’s death.
[Featured image: KTXL video screengrab]