It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes people in a position of power, whereby those in their care have a limited ability to defend themselves, abuse said power.
There are countless stories of nursing home workers who abuse the patients they are assigned to care for, stories of parents abusing their own kids and awful cases of supposed animal lovers abusing their own pets. It is all very disturbing, but unfortunately not uncommon. And that’s because these vile perpetrators usually think they can get away with destructing the lives of the vulnerable in society. All they have to do is force their helpless victims to remain quiet, and all too often these victims have no other options available to them. Abusing disabled people is particularly awful because often they have little means of defending themselves. Unfortunately, like other forms of abuse, cases such as these are not isolated incidents, and they can take place in the most unlikely of places, by the most unlikely perpetrators. Schools, for instance, are supposed to be institutions whereby students feel safe, especially those who are especially vulnerable. However, recently a horrific lawsuit was filed against the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and four individuals affiliated with it, accusing them of being responsible for the abuse of a disabled girl who suffers from cerebral palsy. “Awful, awful,” Alreida Rice, a woman living in the neighboring area commented. “Abusing someone’s kid, they should not be still dealing with kids.” The 25 page lawsuit states that over a number of years, a girl named Rosa Smith was abused while attending High Point School in Ann Arbor. The lawsuit named a teacher at the school, the principal and two teacher aides as being complicit in Smith’s abuse. “I’m not understanding, when we know things are happening, why do we have to do this to get feedback,” Rice continued. According to the lawsuit, one of the teachers even duct taped the mouth of the special needs student because she “wouldn’t be quiet”. Here is a snippet from the lawsuit: “It’s very disturbing, I couldn’t imagine being the parent of that child and seeing something like that,” said Wayne Stallworth, a man who lives in the same area where the alleged abuse took place. “You just wish people had better hearts or they just had a better understanding of people with disabilities,” Stallworth added. It’s fair to say many of those in the community were appalled by the neglect and abuse that had been allowed to continue right under their noses. “She should be dismissed and should never be able to teach anyone again,” Rice insisted. “I would probably handle things on my own, because that’s just ridiculous, that’s not professional it’s just outrageous.” Yesterday in a bid to defend their reputation, Washtenaw Intermediate School District released the following statement:
“We take the health, safety, and education of all of our students very seriously. As to the subject of this lawsuit, the family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district until nearly a year after it occurred. When we were first informed of the family’s concern, we immediately conducted a complete investigation and took appropriate remedial action.”
The amount the family is suing for has not been specified, instead the lawsuit expresses their desire for a fair amount in damages and so that there will be enough to cover attorney fees. If the school was indeed complicit in the abuse of this helpless girl, let us hope that justice is soon served.
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