JCPS, LMPD investigating after disabled Jacob Elementary student - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS, LMPD investigating after disabled Jacob Elementary student comes home with broken leg

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Jacob Elementary School Jacob Elementary School
Michael Schmidt (photo courtesy of family) Michael Schmidt (photo courtesy of family)
Carolyn Willis and Amanda Vittitow (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Carolyn Willis and Amanda Vittitow (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools and the Louisville Metro Police Department are investigating how a 5-year-old disabled child came home from school Wednesday with a broken leg.

Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswomen for JCPS, says the Jacob Elementary School student was taken by his parent to the hospital on Wednesday night "with a leg injury that the parent believes occurred at school."

"We've contacted CPS and our own internal investigations unit," she said. "Due to the ongoing investigation I'm not able to provide any additional details."

Dwight Mitchell, a spokesman for LMPD, also confirm's the department's Crimes Against Children Unit is investigating.

Amanda Vittitow tells WDRB that her son, Michael "Ty" Schmidt, was born with a rare genetic disorder, is non-verbal and is confined to a wheelchair. He is in kindergarten at Jacob Elementary.

"I went to pick him up from school Wednesday after I got a phone call at 3 p.m. from his teacher saying he was crying and they did not know what was wrong with him," Vittitow said. 

"They had me go to the room to let me see what was going on," she said. "They thought he was just having muscle spasms."

The boy's grandmother, Carolyn Willis, helps talk care of Michael and told media during an interview at the hospital on Friday afternoon that she always checks her grandson before he goes to school and when he gets home, just to make sure he doesn't have any injuries.

"That particular morning he was fine, he was in a good mood, there were no marks, nothing on him," Willis said, adding she told the bus driver should thought he'd have a good day. "I let them know he was going to end up having a good day because you can tell."

Vittitow and Willis say the teacher told them she had left the classroom for about five minutes to move her car and that there was one teaching assistant who was in the classroom while she was away.

When the teacher came back, "he was laying on the changing table crying. She asked the aide what was wrong with him and the aide told her she didn't know," Willis said.

There were no cameras or other adults in the room and that the teacher said Michael had not been crying before she left the room, Willis said.

Willis said both a nurse at Jacob Elementary and a district nurse practitioner who was at the school for a meeting that day, told the family Michael likely was having muscle spasms which, at times, cause him to cry out in pain.

Vittitow said she picked her son up from school and took him to his grandfather's house "to see if he would watch him while I got a tire fixed on a truck."

That's when her dad noticed something wasn't right, Vittitow said.

"He noticed his leg was swollen, and said he thought his leg was broke," Willis said.

They called an ambulance and Michael was taken to Norton Children's Hospital, where doctors confirmed he had a broken left femur bone.

Vittitow said her son does not have a bone disorders which would make him prone to fractures. She also said he had never suffered a broken bone before.

Michael had surgery on Thursday for doctors to put a metal rod in his leg and Vittitow says he will be hospitalized for a few more days.

"I don't want to think that anyone intentionally did it, I'm hoping it was just an accident," she said.

Michael's teacher has been employed with JCPS since February 2013 and has been working at Jacob since October 2013, Brislin said. She added that there is one previous investigation involving the teacher, but could not immediately elaborate on what it was about or if anything was substantiated.

The teacher's assistant who was working in Michael's classroom has worked for the district since June 2011 and has been at Jacob since October 2011, Brislin said. There are no previous investigations involving that employee.

WDRB is not naming the two employees at this time.

As of Friday afternoon, Brislin said neither the teacher nor the assistant have been placed on leave or reassigned.

Meanwhile, the family says they are left with a lot of questions.

"I have my suspicions of what happened and I want to keep that to myself right now since it's under investigation right now," Willis said.

Vittitow said she's "mad and upset."

"I don't want to think anyone would want to do that to him," she said. "I just want to know how this happened."

This is at least the second case in recent years involving broken bones and JCPS.

In 2014, Brennan Long was severely injured, both legs broken, when he was restrained at the Binet School, a JCPS school that serves students who have a combination of disabilities that can result in significant learning, developmental, or behavioral problems.

In November, the Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, a client-directed legal rights agency that protects and promotes the rights of persons with disabilities, found that Sherman Williams, an aide at the Binet School, broke Brennan’s femur bones.

The 16-year-old spent eight days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Kosair Children’s Hospital where doctors surgically implanted titanium rods in each of his legs.

JCPS records show Williams was initially suspended without pay, then was temporarily reassigned. He returned to work at Binet on Aug. 1, 2015. He remains assigned to the school.

Brennan Long's family was awarded nearly $2 million by JCPS but his parents, Brian and Kim Long, say they still don't know exactly what happened.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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