Lawsuit: Pomona Unified allowed abuse of disabled students

Beau Yarbrough
October 8, 2015

A class-action lawsuit alleges that the Pomona Unified school district allowed the physical and emotional abuse of at least two autistic students since August 2013, covered up the abuse, failed to document and report the abuse, take steps to prevent further abuse, failed to explain what had happened to the children in a timely fashion. The abuse led to emotional problems and loss of previously learned skills.

“It’s a perfect storm of problems,” said Elizabeth Eubanks with the Disability Rights Legal Center. “When we first heard from J.V.’s mom, it prompted several other families to come forward, all of whom had similar concerns… These really serious things happened and the amount of information the parents got was basically nothing,” Eubanks said.

“They were holding all four of his extremities, and that’s a very dangerous way to hold a child. … It can restrict his breathing area and cause a lot of harm,” Eubanks said. “Some students with disabilities have certain behaviors that require a level of training from the staff to know how to deal with these behaviors… If there has to be some sort of intervention, it should be the least intrusive possible, and only in the most extreme cases. The most important thing in this lawsuit for us is that we make a systemic change. We see this as a larger problem than something that happened in a single classroom or in a single school… Improve the training, improve the accountability, improve the transparency so it’s a safer place for students to learn.”

“There was a good number of families we spoke to pre-filing who were concerned about having their child named in the suit,” she said. “They were worried about retaliation. … The things we’ve heard from families we’ve communicated with have been very, very consistent.”

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