Southern Indiana mom claims autistic son was abused at school - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Southern Indiana mom claims autistic son was abused at school

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A southern Indiana mom claims her autistic son was held in a school closet as a form of discipline and tried to claw his way through the wall.

Now she's planning to take legal action after her attorney says not only did this not follow the plan for special needs children, it's child abuse. They plan to file the lawsuit next month, and say Child Protective Services is also investigating.

"I'm sorry...its so hard," said Kim Gosnell. "He's been telling me for a year that he doesn't want to go to school, and I sent him anyway. Now I know he's been in a closet and that's why he didn't want to go."

Gosnell's 7-year-old son Maddox is autistic. She was shocked to get a call from his school, Georgetown Elementary, recently, saying he was trying to scratch his way out of a small room in the office where he was being held. The school calls it a timeout room. You can see the patch on the wall she says was repaired within hours of getting the call.

"When the assistant principal called me to tell me he was scratching and down to the drywall with his hands, it had been 25 minutes and by the time my father-in-law picked him up, he was still there," Gosnell said.

"She met with school administrators and discovered this was not an isolated incident," said Laura Landenwich, Gosnell's attorney. "They have been putting this child in the closet as a form of discipline for over a year. This is the first time Kim has ever heard they are doing this to her child."

Gosnell says an individualized education plan, or IEP, was in place with the school to help Maddox with his special needs. She says he gets upset in large-group settings, and does have episodes where he needs to be removed from the situation. Gosnell says the plan included breathing techniques, and time outs in the office with an adult doing his work --but not sitting alone in a room she describes as the size of a small closet.

"They have sensory rooms, and I asked, 'Why wasn't he in there?'" Gosnell said. "They said he could have been a danger to himself."

She's planning to take legal action against the state, claiming it violated the Constitution by imposing punishment without due process through the New Albany Floyd County School District.

"We understand there are allegations this is happening to other students at the school, and we will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of her child because this is child abuse," Landenwich said. "This is not acceptable in the public school system."

Gosnell has removed her son from Georgetown Elementary.

Late Tuesday afternoon, New Albany-Floyd County Schools responded to the claims with a statement.

"Georgetown Elementary has a professional staff that is trained to provide an outstanding education for all students," the statement said. "The school has followed the Corporation's policies and procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of our children."

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