Las Vegas Media Covers Hearing Involving Autistic Boy Abused by School Teacher

Las Vegas Review Journal Story

On Tuesday, April 9, a two-day hearing began to determine whether to allow a student to attend school wearing an “AngelSense” device in a case involving a severely autistic boy who was physically abused by a special education teacher who later pled guilty to a crime for the abuse.

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.

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). Although his parents are willing to pay all costs associated with the AngelSense monitor, the District denied their request for audio monitoring, and a hearing officer appointed by the State of Nevada will now determine whether the District met its obligations to the student and whether his parents can send him to school wearing the monitor.

“Joshua and Britten are wonderful, loving and protective parents who want to ensure their son is properly taken care of at school,” said attorney Gregg A. Hubley of Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP. “Like all parents, they want to ensure their child is educated in a safe environment, and after such a horrific experience with the school we believe this is an extremely reasonable request.”

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 2019, through Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Background

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.

This is not the parents’ first run-in with the district in regard to their son’s education.  During the 2016-2017 school year (when their child was 4 years of age), the parents complained repeatedly, through both calls and in writing, that their child was not being fed or provided with drinking water while at school, and that the school failed to check or change his diapers.  The parents brought these issues all the way to the school superintendent.  The parents reported that the superintendent, after hearing their issues, laughed at and berated them, even suggesting that they were imagining these issues.  Attorneys for the student have also asked the hearing officer to determine whether this conduct and approach complied with the educational plan for the student developed by the District.