A California family is planning to sue a local school district after an officer had to handcuff their 11-year-old autistic son who had wandered away from the school campus.
The young boy was able to walk away about one mile before police apprehended him.
Trevor Hibbert, the boy's father, said he is suing for gross negligence. He said any proceeds from the lawsuit would be donated to a charity.
What are the details?
Hibbert blasted administrators at Endeavor Middle School after his son left its campus Monday in Lancaster, California.
The child was reportedly suffering an "emotional episode," and was able to walk at least one mile away from the school.
Police discovered the 11-year-old in clear distress, handcuffed him, and placed him in the backseat of a patrol car to return the child to his family.
Hibbert shared a Facebook post about the incident. The post ended up going viral and featured a photo of his young son crying. An irate Hibbert pointed out that it was the third time in as many weeks that his son was able to walk off campus.
A portion of Hibbert's lengthy post said, "This is what happens to an 11 year old, special needs, severely autistic child when he has a meltdown and is able to walk off the Lancaster School District, Endeavour Middle School 'secure' campus almost a mile away, for a THIRD TIME in three weeks due to their gross failure to adhere to his IEP by the Administration and District."
"Thank God our Sheriff's department was there to clean up your mess, but the damage is done," the post continued. "Well done Principal Arnold-Dehay. The damage you have done to my son and the years of progress that has been setback are irreparable. And now a lawsuit isn't enough. You and your staff did this. Now, by God Almighty if it's the last thing I do, I'm going to make you and the district famous for it."
'Our children deserve better'
Hibbert appeared at a Lancaster School District board meeting Tuesday evening and brought up the incidents.
"I'm calling you out," he told the board. "Our children deserve better."
District Superintendent Michelle Bowers agreed with Hibbert and said that the incident was "regrettable."
"We're doing everything we need to do to support the family and to support this child in being successful in his new environment," Bowers told members of the local media. "This is his first year in middle school and while we're completely committed to his safety and his education, we're also very mindful of the safety of our staff, we're trying to balance all of that out."
Hibbert wasn't impressed with Bowers' remarks, however, and told KTTV-TV as much.
"Regrettable?" he said. "A 125-pound, 5-foot 11-year-old special needs child that ends up in handcuffs because of your gross incompetence is not regrettable — that's abhorrent."
In a statement, the school district said, "While we cannot comment on all of the details of this child's services, we all agree that the incident that occurred yesterday is highly regrettable for everyone involved and we will continue to work with the family to support this child."