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Teacher Accused of Intentionally Sickening Autistic Boy

An Indianapolis teacher is accused of giving a child a peanut filled candy bar. The child’s mother claims the teacher was trying to make her son sick so that he could not go on a field trip with the class. The boy is eight years old and is autistic. He is mostly nonverbal and experiences swelling by just touching peanuts.

AutismGarden2.jpgThe mother, Anita Young, has filed a lawsuit against the teacher, claiming that the special education teacher, Trinda Barocas, told an aide that the boy was likely to misbehave on the field trip and said that, “maybe he could be sick enough not to attend and we won’t have to deal with it” the lawsuit states. The mother claims that the teacher knew how severe the child’s allergy was. She says the child was frustrated and angry, and would fight with her about going to school, during the time of alleged abuse. The child is now in a different school and the mother claims the child is doing much better and is happy to be at school.

Officials from the school contacted the mother after aides reported that the teacher has mistreated the boy and another boy. The school is Mary Bryan Elementary School in Indianapolis.

The Department of Education and Marion County prosecutors are investigating the case. Barocas no longer works for the schools and her lawyer did not provide any feedback to the Associated Press regarding the case. The teacher told investigators that the allegations are false and that she did not try to prevent the boy from going on the field trip.

In the lawsuit, there are claims that the teacher kept the boy in a small cubicle, meant to be used for short periods. Specifically, the lawsuit states that the teacher treated the boy as a “caged animal.” The teacher is also accused of pinching the boy, standing on his foot and grabbing him by the arm to drag him. The mother wants criminal charges filed.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and says that the teacher and school officials should have known of the abuse and that they failed in their obligation to protect the child. The school district claims that they filed a report with Child Protection Services as soon as they learned of the allegations and that the teacher was on administrative leave with pay three days later. She had told the school a month earlier that she would resign at the end of the school year, for reasons unrelated to the allegations. She was employed with the district since August 2008.

The Indiana Department of Child Services reviewed the complaints and found that the teacher did not want the boy to attend the field trip. The boy did attend and “did many things that he was not allowed to do.” The teacher compared the child to an “18 month old” several times.

In addition to these allegations, the teacher is also accused of hitting a nine-year-old girl with Down syndrome on the lips. The teacher claims she tapped the child’s lips with two fingers as a physical prompt, not to abuse the child. Another allegation stems back to 2007 when Barocas was working in Franklin Community Schools. A mother claims she saw the teacher force feed her child, slap her and restrain her improperly. The teacher stated, “I did not, will not and would not hurt a child in my care.”

If you are a school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.