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Special needs students' lawsuit settled where abuse alleged

It's unfortunate that mistreatment of special education students occurs at all. However, it's even more disconcerting when the mistreatment occurred at the hands of school staff.

One state recently settled a lawsuit where such mistreatment was alleged. The amount of the settlement was undisclosed. The lawsuit was brought by parents who claimed the children were abused by staff routinely. It was also asserted that the aides at the school were not adequately trained to provide assistance to these special needs students.

Evidence of abuse came from a cellphone video taken by another aide. According to an administrative judge, the complaints of parents concerning the abuse were said to be well-founded. The administrative judge also was critical of that state's Department of Education by concluding they did a poor job in investigating the matter.

As attorneys in California representing parents in a variety of matters involving special needs students, we've seen a variety of common school mistakes that have led to investigations and due process hearings. Schools also often make mistakes by not keeping parents in the loop.

Procedures for handling problems concerning educating children with special needs should be distributed to parent. Parents should be able to fully understand steps that schools are taking to prevent abuse from occurring. By not taking these steps a school is virtually guaranteeing that parents will contact an attorney concerning questionable circumstances.

Teachers, school staff and administrators need to understand that children also have due process rights. The education of children is too vital to be handled by unqualified individuals who cannot deal with the needs of special interest children appropriately.

Source: Hawaii News Now, "State agrees to settle special needs students' lawsuit," Ian Scheuring, April 16, 2014

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