Should special needs child be removed from classroom for assaulting teachers, students?

Experts weigh in amid teacher, parent complaints at Broward County school

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – A Broward County teacher spoke to Local 10 News Wednesday after she said she was physically assaulted by a special needs student. 

But is the student placed in a classroom that best suits his needs? 

"The whole situation is disturbing for everyone, including him," the teacher, Gail Black, said. 

Black said the special needs student attacked her colleague last Friday inside a classroom at Norcrest Elementary School in Pompano Beach. Black said she, too, has been injured by the same student.

"I've been attacked four times this year. I've been charged at twice, knocked over. I've been pinched, and I had my breast grabbed by him in November. There was no consequences," Black said. "My administrator told me, 'Oh, he hits everybody. He does that to everybody,' which is totally unacceptable to me."

Black said the student, who has two handlers in the classroom, has been diagnosed with autism and is developmentally challenged. She believes he's in a class with the general population when he should be in a program that is best tailored to his needs.

"I would like this child removed from this school and put into a center where he can thrive and be as successful as he possibly can be," she said.  

Two parents also reached out to Local 10 News, saying their children were injured by the same classmate. They also claim the entire class was injured by him at one point this past school year.

"My child was held in a headlock," Nydia Cedillo said. "I understand his special needs, but the violent tendencies is where I draw the line as a parent."

Local 10 News reporter Sanela Sabovic reached out to experts, who have not treated the student in question, to ask whether there might be a better solution for this child and his classmates. 

"It sounds like they need to look at all the documentation and see whether this child is in the correct placement or (should be) in a different placement," Dr. Sandy Rizzo said.  

Attorney Ivan Cabrera, who has a special needs child of his own, also weighed in.

"There's no defined rules and that's the scariest part," he said. "It's all predicated upon individualized needs, individualized wants and individualized circumstances. If a child can make it in a regular class, it would be great to have him there, but if it's detrimental to him or those around to have him in the classroom, then you have other considerations to take into account."

Local 10 News reached out to the Broward County School District following the teachers' and parents' concerns in the classrooms.  A spokeswoman released a statement that read: "The District and school are committed to providing safe and supportive learning environments for students and staff, while ensuring all students receive the support needed to be successful in their education. Due to student privacy laws, the District is not able to provide specific information regarding the incident you referenced. However, school leadership continues to meet and communicate with those involved to address their concerns moving forward."

Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union said she is aware of the situation and was assured that teachers at the school will be protected and that the child will get the help he needs. 

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