PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Multnomah Education Service District is being sued after a mother claims her third grader was assaulted by a school staff member.
According to the complaint, the 9-year-old, identified as M.M., receives special education services due to behavioral issues and was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In second grade, he transferred to Knott Creek to meet his educational and behavioral needs.
The complaint notes the child’s mother, Tria Jones, received several notices in the past when M.M. was in second grade saying he was placed in restrain for his and other student’s safety. After asking the school for video footage of each time he was restrained, the school stopped sending restraint notices.
However, on September 7, 2021, Jones received a notice that M.M. was placed on restraint in a separate classroom and was told there would be a debriefing meeting the next day. Court documents say the notice didn’t include most information needed by statute including which staff member restrained him, what led to the restraint, or other de-escalation attempts.
Jones called the school for more information and was told M.M. climbed on top of a bookshelf, was spitting and kicked staff.
She scheduled a meeting with the school to review footage of the incident after her son told her “’somebody picked me up and threw me.’”
According to the complaint, footage showed M.M. trying to open a locked door and ripping paper off of it. The staff member pushed and grabbed him, then took him to a room used for restraint.
Court documents allege the video shows M.M sticking out his foot so the staff member couldn’t shut the door. The staff member then “swings the door open and throws M.M across the room.”
The complaint alleged M.M hit his head on the floor and curled into a ball. The staff member allegedly closed the door and left him alone.
The complaint says another staff member was in the hall during the incident but didn’t intervene.
Three days later, Jones took her child to the emergency room where they evaluated bruises on his legs.
The complaint says on September 9, Four Creeks Principal Nicole Hilton wrote Jones saying the staff member was placed on leave adding “’my heart is heavy over the events that transpired. I can’t imagine how you are feeling. I am always available to talk and hope to regain your trust.’”
Jones claims the school’s human resources department told her the staff member no longer worked at Four Creeks. However, the school hasn’t provided additional information on the incident or plans to keep M.M. and other students safe.
Jones claims since the incident, M.M. is “angrier, more prone to lash out, and more timid around strangers. He also has more conflict, including more physical conflict, with his siblings.”
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, MESD said “The allegations in the complaint are deeply concerning. While we don’t comment on pending litigation we can speak to our safety processes generally.
Our staff work with some of our community’s most impacted and vulnerable children. Children who have experienced multiple life traumas including abuse, parental abandonment, death of a family member, witnessing violence in the home, drugs in the home, housing and food instability and violence. As a result of the trauma they’ve experienced, the children express their emotions through behaviors that can cause harm to themselves, other students and staff.
MESD staff are trained in SafetyCare protocols to keep students and staff safe when behavior escalates and endangers the student, other students, and staff. Protocols include the use of verbal cues, holds and seclusion rooms to deescalate the child, or to keep the child and others safe until the child is able to deescalate.
When a hold or seclusion room is used our staff review and debrief each event for improvement and notify the child’s family. We also work with the child to build appropriate skills to manage their emotions with the ultimate goal of the child returning to their neighborhood school. It is our priority to keep students and staff safe while they are learning the skills they need to become resilient, strong, successful learners and community members.”