PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Multnomah Education Service District is being sued after a mother claims her third-grade student was assaulted by a school staff member.
According to the complaint, the 9-year-old, identified as MM, is receiving 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 that the child’s mother, Tria Jones, received several notices in the past when MM was in second grade saying he had been placed in restraints for his safety and that of other students. 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 notice that MM had been restrained in a separate classroom and was told there would be a debriefing meeting the following day. Court documents say the notice did not include most of the information required by law, including which staff member withheld it, leading to the withholding or further attempts to de-escalate.
Jones called the school for more information and was told MM was climbing on a shelf, spitting and kicking staff.
She scheduled a meeting with the school to review footage of the incident after her son told her “‘someone picked me up and threw me'”.
According to the complaint, footage showed MM trying to open a locked door and rip some paper out of it. The staff member pushed and grabbed him, then took him to a room used for restraint.
Court documents allege the video shows MM sticking his foot out so the staff member cannot close the door. The staff member then “opens the door and throws MM across the room”.
The complaint alleged that MM hit his head on the ground and rolled into a ball. The staff member reportedly closed the door and left him alone.
The complaint says another member of staff was in the room when the incident occurred but did not intervene.
Three days later, Jones took her child to the emergency room where they assessed bruises on her legs.
The complaint says that on September 9, Four Creeks manager Nicole Hilton wrote to Jones to say the staff member had been furloughed, adding “a a ··········· . I can’t imagine how you feel. I am always available to talk and hope to regain your trust.
Jones claims the school’s human resources department told him the staff member no longer worked at Four Creeks. However, the school did not provide any additional information about the incident or any plans to keep MM and other students safe.
Jones claims that since the incident, MM is “angrier, more quarrelsome and more shy around strangers. He also has more conflict, including more physical conflict, with his siblings.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, the MESD said, “The allegations contained in the complaint are deeply concerning. Although we do not comment on ongoing litigation, we can talk about our security processes in general.
Our staff work with some of the most affected and vulnerable children in our community. Children who have experienced multiple traumas in life including abuse, parental abandonment, death of a family member, witnessing violence in the home, drugs in the home, instability and violence in housing and food. As a result of the trauma they have experienced, children express their emotions through behaviors that can hurt themselves, other students and staff.
MESD staff are trained in SafetyCare protocols to keep students and staff safe when the behavior escalates and puts the student, other students, and staff at risk. Protocols include the use of verbal cues, holds, and isolation rooms to defuse the child or to keep the child and others safe until the child is able to defuse.
When a waiting or isolation room is used, our staff review and debrief each event to improve it and notify the child’s family. We also work with the child to develop the appropriate skills to manage their emotions with the ultimate goal of returning the child to their neighborhood school. Our priority is to keep students and staff safe while they learn the skills they need to become resilient, strong and successful learners and community members.