Palm Beach School for Autism: After gun on campus, questions over response

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Three of Gina Stafford's four children go to the Palm Beach School for Autism.

"One of them still doesn't speak. They need essentially one-on-one attention," she said.

But after Friday's allegation that a student was inappropriately touched by a staff member, she's concerned about a police report written in May.

It says an outside therapist transferred a gun from a bag to an ankle holster in "plain view" of twelve students and four adults in a classroom.

He allegedly said, "Don't worry, I have a concealed permit."

"Children who are autistic," said Stafford. "They wouldn't know how to process that. The fear with those children must have been horrendous."

Administrators held a meeting.

After that, a staffer told her boyfriend that "administrators didn't want to call police because they could lose government funds and called an attorney."

When the boyfriend called the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, a deputy says school head Ann Levine-Eisenberg told him she called the school's attorney and, "She wanted to handle the incident in house and was more interested in who the complainant was than the seriousness of the incident."

"You need to alert whatever authorities have to be alerted so that the children are safe," said NewsChannel5 Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer. "It has to be immediate."

According to the report,  the school's executive director says the classroom teachers told her the therapist, "Did not pose any danger to the staff or the children, so she made the decision not to report the incident to law enforcement."

Through an attorney, the school said, "We abided by every single protocol. Administrators were gathering information. No one covered anything up, we were just beaten to calling police... It's interesting to note the children whose parents are complaining are still in school."

Stafford says her kids will remain there, despite the concern.

"If the school would not report and did not report a violation of law to the authorities, then what else are they hiding?"

Suskauer says Florida law prohibits guns in schools, even if the carrier has a concealed weapons permit, as the therapist said he did.

The therapist has been banned from campus.

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