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Mother Sues Lansing School District Over Alleged Abuse of Autistic Son

Pensive child looking through a windowA local mother is taking her son’s school district to court after he was allegedly abused by a teacher who has since been fired.

According to CBS Detroit, Jennifer Garza filed a civil suit on Monday in Grand Rapids, MI against the Lansing School District and several school officials.

Garza says that her 13-year-old son, who has been diagnosed with autism and attention deficit disorder, suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a special education teacher at Gardner Academy.

The lawsuit alleges that the former teacher named in the suit, Lester Duvall, tossed the child onto the floor and into a bookcase. The boy was left with a concussion, bruising, and a black eye as a result of the incident.

Duvall was fired last year. He was charged with a misdemeanor relating to the alleged assault and fined $300. A telephone number listed for Duvall is no longer in service.

Autism now affects about one in 68 children, and the behavior of these children is often misinterpreted by those who don’t have an understanding of the condition. While Garza’s story sheds light on the mistreatment of autistic children, one local organization is doing its part to help them reach their full potential.

According to Click On Detroit, autism awareness and development center Special Education and Behavioral Connections opened its Detroit office in the spring. They provide custom programs for autistic children that enable them to learn at their own pace in a comfortable setting.

“These children are smart,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Holley, whose church donated an adjacent building to make the program possible. “They learn in a different way, and this is why I feel this is so important for Detroit.”

As for Garza’s lawsuit, there is no timetable for the court proceedings as of yet. District spokesman Robert Kolt said Monday that “it would be inappropriate for the Lansing School District to comment on pending litigation.”

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