A teacher taped a disabled student’s mouth shut in just one horrific example of repeated abuse that occurred at a Michigan school, a lawsuit alleges.
Rosa Smith, 26, who has cerebral palsy along with other disabilities, suffered “physical, emotional and psychological harm” while she attended High Point School in Ann Arbor, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
Smith’s teacher Nesa Johnson is accused of taping Smith’s mouth and sending a photo of the 26-year-old to her mother, along with a text that read, “Help. She won’t be quiet!!!”
Evidence photos contained in a lawsuit by Doreen Smith, the mother of disabled student Rosa Smith of Ypsilanti, Michigan.
“Taping a special-needs student’s mouth shut is appalling in-and-of-itself, but was especially torturous for Rosa, who is physically unable to remove the tape, has trouble breathing and clearing her throat, and breathes out of her mouth,” the lawsuit states.
“Defendant Johnson’s actions put Rosa’s life in jeopardy. Furthermore, hair and skin were missing from the area of Risa’s face where Johnson removed the tape,” the lawsuit added.
Smith’s teacher Nesa Johnson is accused of texting the photo to her parents
In addition to having her face covered with tape, staffers at the school overmedicated her, slapped her, locked her in the bathroom for extended periods of time and spilled hot coffee on her leg, according to the lawsuit.
In 2004, Smith’s mother met her at the bus stop at the end of the school day and saw the skin on her leg burned off, according to court documents.
When her mother complained, however, the school denied wrongdoing, claiming the burns were self-inflicted after Rosa knocked the coffee off a shelf, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also claims staff members “intentionally over-medicated Rosa to mollify, pacify and sedate her instead of providing the educational services to which she had a federal right.”
In February this year, a staff member allegedly slapped Smith in the face several times “in plain view” of other students and faculty members, the lawsuit alleges.
While no one reported the alleged abuse, Smith’s bus driver witnessed the assault and later notified her mother, according to the court documents.
Rosa Smith, 26, who has cerebral palsy along with other disabilities, started attending High Point School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2004.
Smiths’ mother Doreen Smith said the abuse continued despite lodging numerous complaints.
The Washtenaw Independent School District issued a statement to the Detroit Free Press saying they conducted a complete investigation and took “appropriate remedial action” when they first learned about the family’s concern.
“The family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district until nearly a year after it occurred. During that subsequent year, the student continued attending school, in the same classroom, with the same teacher,” the statement said.
Doreen Smith cries during a news conference. She and her husband Christopher are suing the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for the alleged abuse their daughter suffered.
(Click On Detroit)