Michigan teacher taped shut mouth of student with cerebral palsy, lawsuit says

Posted at 10:17 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-03 13:03:47-04

A 25-page lawsuit has been filed against a school district in Michigan after the family of a woman with cerebral palsy said her former teacher, among others, abused and neglected her for many years while at school.

The lawsuit alleges the student, Rosa Smith, now 26-year-old, was abused over several years while attending High Point School in Ann Arbor.

"Awful, awful," said Alreida Rice, after looking at pictures of the alleged abuse. "Abusing someone's kid, they should not be still dealing with kids."

A lawsuit filed against the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and four individuals alleges abuse and neglect towards Smith, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

"I’m not understanding, when we know things are happening, why do we have to do this to get feedback," said Rice.

The lawsuit alleges Rosa even had her mouth taped because she quote "wouldn’t be quiet."

"It’s very disturbing, I couldn't imagine being the parent of that child and seeing something like that," said Wayne Stallworth, after learning about the lawsuit, and seeing some of the pictures.

The lawsuit names Rosa's former teacher, principal and two former teacher aides.

"She should be dismissed and should never be able to teach anyone again," said Rice.

Page five of the lawsuit alleges on May 19, 2004, that Rosa suffered third-degree burns to her leg when scalding hot coffee was spilled on her.

"I would probably handle things on my own, because that’s just ridiculous, that’s not professional it’s just outrageous," said Rice. 

Washtenaw ISD releasing a statement saying in part:

We take the health, safety, and education of all of our students very seriously. As to the subject of this lawsuit, the family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district until nearly a year after it occurred. 

The statement goes on to say:

When we were first informed of the family’s concern, we immediately conducted a complete investigation and took appropriate remedial action.

"You just wish people had better hearts or they just had a better understanding of people with disabilities," said Stallworth.

The lawsuit is asking for damages and attorney fees paid for whatever amount a jury deems fair and reasonable.