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Video shows school employee hitting 3-year-old nonverbal autistic child in the head and knocking him

By Jennifer Henderson, CNN

Updated 4:04 PM EDT, Fri September 15, 2023


Video from an Ohio school’s hallway camera shows a school employee chasing a 3-year-old down the hall and hitting him in the head from behind, knocking him to the ground, an attorney for the boy’s family alleges. After the child is on the ground, the employee at Rosa Parks Early Learning Center in Dayton picks the child up by his ankles and carrying him down the hall with his head toward the floor, the August video shows. The employee has since been removed by the district. The child is nonverbal and autistic, said the attorney for the boy’s parents, Michael Wright. “The actions seen in the clip are contrary to all employee training, do not promote a culture conducive to learning, and are not tolerated in Dayton Public Schools,” David Lawrence, interim superintendent, said in a statement. “Although the district cannot publicly comment on specific personnel matters, parents and guardians should be assured that the individual is no longer employed,” Lawrence said. “The safety of all students and staff is the district’s utmost priority, and we appreciate the support of families as we work to provide a safe school environment for all.”

The incident happened on August 21, according to the district and Wright, the attorney. In a Facebook post sharing the video on Monday, the child’s mom, Taneshia Lindsay, said it took her three weeks to get the video of her “autistic son being assaulted on his 2nd day of school.”

“I’m not saying Rosa Parks is a bad school as a whole. My son trusts his teachers and there are other staff that love what they do and work really well with the kids,” Lindsay said in a Facebook post the following day, “I’m also upset with DPS (Dayton Public Schools) because you’re the ones doing the hiring and the placement of the staff. After finally seeing that video my heart is broken and my feelings are hurt. I just want justice for my baby because he didn’t deserve that.”

CNN has sought comment from the principal, Rosa Parks Early Learning Center and Dayton Public Schools but has not heard back. Dayton police presented the case to the Montgomery County prosecutor’s office, which told CNN it is reviewing the matter to determine whether any criminal charges will be filed. The boy’s parents are considering legal action, said Wright, the parents’ attorney.

An incident like the one shown in the video would be traumatic for anyone, especially a child with a disability, said Janice Sadler, spokesperson for the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services. “All children, with or without disabilities, must be treated in ways that allow for optimal development,” Sadler said, “This requires adults and caregivers in their lives to be caring, calm, and consistently respond in ways that build trust. It’s important to keep in mind that children with disabilities often require extra attention and patience – especially those who have challenges communicating.”

In a statement posted by the school district Wednesday, Lawrence said the district would ensure its 2,300 employees are “properly trained and qualified for their positions.” He also said he would meet with concerned parents next week to discuss the incident.

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