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California teacher who comforted autistic student is put on leave

Imagine that you are a special education teacher working for a school district here California. An autistic student approaches you one day, visibly upset. They ask for a hug. Knowing that many autistic children respond better to touch than words, you oblige and give the student a hug.

But the child is still upset and asks to sit on your lap. The question now arises: do you do what you think is right and continue comforting the child or do you decline because of how it might appear to people on the outside?

This was the dilemma that faced a Manteca school special education teacher who believes that he took the right course of action by obliging a severely autistic student's request to sit on his lap recently. The school district thought otherwise though and has not only put the teacher on paid leave, but it has involved the police who are looking into the possibility that there were other events that involved "inappropriate behavior."

But even though the school district and some in the community believe that the special education teacher of 16 years handled the situation inappropriately, many more have come forward in support of his actions, including the autistic boy's mother. She believes that the investigation should not have gone beyond the school district and should not include police.

Although it's unknown from reports if the teacher has sought legal counsel at this time, this case should exemplify for others the importance of seeking legal counsel immediately following harsh accusations such as these. When police are involved, you want to make sure that you can protect your rights. With the help of a lawyer, you can do that as well as make sure that you are protecting your career and getting the best advice about how to effectively present your side of the story as well.

Source: ABC News 10, "Special ed teacher protests being removed from school," Tim Daly and Carlos Saucedo, Feb. 18, 2015

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