A private California school where staff reportedly restrained a 13-year-old autistic boy who stopped breathing and died late last month violated state restraint rules, education officials have determined.
Per The Sacramento Bee, California Department of Education said Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills broke state rules when they restrained Max Benson in a face-down position for an extended duration of time on November 28. Benson reportedly became unresponsive while being restrained and died at the hospital the following day.
A source close to the investigation previously told the newspaper that staff kept Benson in the restraint for nearly an hour.
On December 5, the California Department of Education announced the K-12 school’s suspension, meaning they can’t accept new students but can remain open. In their announcement, the department said Guiding Hands’ use of force was “not reasonable” and that staff’s use of the restraint deviated from approved behavioral intervention protocol.
KCRA reported that the school serves 150 students, most of whom were referred by school or districts unable to serve their needs.
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said Benson, who was 6-feet tall and 280 pounds, had a violent outburst before staff restrained him. Police said they don’t believe foul play was involved but confirmed they’re investigating the incident.
“Whenever a disciplinary matter or an action is taken to correct behavior, it has to be reasonable under the circumstances,” attorney Seth Goldstein said, speaking on behalf of the late teen’s mother. “If it’s unreasonable or unwarranted, it’s an offense.”
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