Education

Autistic student dragged 250 feet, kicked twice by Fayette school employee, lawsuit says

The parents of a Tates Creek Middle School student with autism filed a lawsuit against Fayette County school officials, alleging that he sustained serious injuries in 2018 when he was dragged 250 feet down hallways, kicked twice by an employee and “unsafely” carried up 19 stairs.

The lawsuit filed Sept. 13 in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington by Courtney Jo Grayson and Donnie Jack Grayson Jr. said the child, identified in the lawsuit only as “T.G.,” was a special needs student, “relatively non-verbal” and “cognitively altered.”

Defendants include two people who worked at Tates Creek Middle School, the Fayette County Board of Education, Superintendent Manny Caulk and Tates Creek Middle principal Eric Thornsbury.

The lawsuit said that as a result of the September 2018 dragging, T.G. was seriously injured physically and mentally. He had injuries to his stomach, back and left shoulder.

The lawsuit alleges that the school did not adequately train staff on appropriate supervision of students, including those with special needs.

The lawsuit alleges that a Tates Creek Middle staff member “unlawfully contacted T.G., dragged him 250 feet through hallways, kicked him twice, and carried him unwillingly up 19 stairs.”

Jo Grayson told the Herald-Leader in October 2018 that on the day of the incident that her son was extremely tired after a morning of speech therapy and instruction and refused to get up off the gym floor.

Tyler S. Stewart, the attorney representing the Graysons, said Tuesday that “we are just looking to defend the rights of a special needs students within the Fayette County Public School system and to ensure that every child in the public school system especially those with special needs are treated with respect and treated appropriately.”

The lawsuit said that another person working at the school that day failed to intervene and prevent the actions. Stewart and the lawsuit did not identify the former workers’ specific positions..

Sandra Spurgeon, the lawyer representing the staff member accused of dragging the child, said Tuesday, the woman ”will be fully vindicated when all the facts and the evidence are presented to the court. Because this matter involves a child, ... we do not believe that we should comment or discuss this matter any further.”

Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall on Wednesday said while the school district can not comment on pending litigation, “we do want to note that this case refers to an incident that occurred in September of last year and was swiftly addressed by school and district officials. “

“Fayette County Public Schools is committed to providing a nurturing and safe learning environment for all of our students and the more than 730 special education professionals in our district go above and beyond each day to meet the needs of the children in their classrooms,” Deffendall said.

Deffendall told the Herald-Leader last year that the staff member shown dragging the child in a video was no longer employed by the school district. The Herald-Leader did not name the school staff members after counsel for one of them said the woman was threatened after previous media coverage.

Fayette Circuit Judge Kim Bunnell on Wednesday agreed to remove from court documents the name of the woman accused in the lawsuit of dragging the boy and the name of the woman accused of not intervening, according to Spurgeon.

The lawsuit is asking for punitive and compensatory damages, including medical expenses.

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