An Arizona school district is facing a lawsuit filed by parents who say their 7-year-old son was routinely kept locked in a five by six foot windowless padded room while other students were educated. Eric and Leslie Noyes say that school staff at Desert Sage Elementary School disobeyed their child’s doctor’s orders by feeding him foods that caused him to have allergic reactions, including behavioral difficulties. The Noyeses claim that school staff routinely induced their son’s reactions to the forbidden substances, then punished him severely for the reactions.
The lawsuit (available HERE) accuses school staff of false imprisonment, committing assault and battery against T. N., gross negligence and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the child. It asks for compensation for the medical treatment T. N. required as a result of the treatment he received, for the district to pay additional transportation costs required to send the boy to a school in another district and for general damages.
The Noyeses claim that they notified the school of their son’s strictly controlled, medically necessary diet. However, school officials continued to feed the boy restricted foods and forced him into the unventilated, windowless box as many as four times each week over the course of more than four months. Some confinements lasted for nearly the entire school day. Teachers used enough force to cause multiple bruises, including dragging T. N. and dropping him onto his head. One teacher even fell on him. Additionally, staff put pressure on T. N.’s back and forced him to lie with his face in the carpet, where he inhaled chemicals used to clean the carpet, causing severe allergic reactions.
T. N. suffered from respiratory distress and experienced panic attacks while he was in the box, according to the suit. He was not allowed to leave the box to urinate or defecate, and when forced to urinate on himself in the box, he received additional punishment, including being forced to disrobe in front of school staff.
As a result of his treatment at the hands of school officials, the lawsuit claims that T. N. suffers from constant anxiety and fear, accompanied by nightmares and other sleep disturbances, stomach pain and emotional problems. The boy’s parents state that, in violation of district rules, they were only notified that their son was being confined on two of the many occasions it occurred.