Las Vegas, NV –May 3, 2019 – The family of a severely autistic boy who was abused at a Clark County school has filed a lawsuit against the school district and the instructor, Melody Carter, who physically hit the boy on multiple occasions in the presence of other school district employees.
Joshua and Britten Wahrer have a son who is severely autistic and non-verbal and was attending special education classes as a result of his condition. In 2018, the 5-year-old boy was physically abused by his special education teacher who was only caught because an aide reported the incident. As a result of his abuse, the boy often attempts to leave school grounds over fear of suffering further harm.
“Joshua and Britten had to endure every parent’s nightmare, the abuse of their child while at school,” said attorney Gregg A. Hubley of Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos LLP. “Because J.J. is non-verbal and can’t tell them what happens to him, they have to rely on the school to keep him safe. The physical abuse by Carter started long after J.J. had been mistreated and Joshua and Britten had complained to the school, and it seems to have been partly in retaliation. What J.J. and his parents have been through is reprehensible, but J.J. will be heard in this lawsuit and he will get justice.”
The lawsuit alleges the boy was the victim of severe neglect and abusive practices inflicted upon him including failing to regularly change his diapers and being denied the food and water sent with him to school. The lawsuit claims that the physical abuse by Melody Carter began after the boy’s parents complained to school officials that food and water were being withheld. The lawsuit alleges that the physical abuse was witnessed by other school district employees who failed to report it. In one instance, Carter struck the boy with a pointer stick and broke it across his legs because he took his shoes off.
In order to protect their son, Joshua and Britten requested that Clark County School District allow the boy to attend class with a monitor which permits parents to listen (without video) and track his location via GPS (called an AngelSense monitor). The school district denied the request and a hearing officer upheld the school district’s decision.
Marianne Lanuti, who also represents Joshua and Britten, said “The school district has done everything it can to deny this young boy the chance to learn and grow in peace and safety. It’s fought his parents at every turn, before and after it was discovered that J.J. was being beaten. And they still have to drop him off every school day and hope he will be there, safe, when they return to pick him up. No parent should be forced into that position.”
The lawsuit is Joshua Wahrer v. Clark County School District, Eighth Judicial District Court Clark County, NV Case No. A-19-794103-C.
This case garnered local media attention in 2018 when a teacher’s aide witnessed a special education teacher striking the boy repeatedly with a pointer stick, with enough force to break the stick over his legs. Apparently, the student did not put his shoes on quickly enough, so the teacher, Melody Carter, started hitting his legs and ankles with a pointer stick. The aide reported the incident to the police, who arrested Ms. Carter and charged her with felony child abuse. She did not deny striking the student and subsequently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense associated with the abuse. The child’s parents have reported that since the abuse by Ms. Carter was discovered, the child regularly attempts to escape school premises (“elope”). This was not an issue before. The parents did move their child to another school after the abuse by Ms. Carter was discovered, but the elopement issues continue at the new school.