Arkansas – Lawsuit claims school mistreated students with autism

Bentonville School DistrictFayetteville, AR – Four families with autism have filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that Bentonville School District mistreated their children. The plaintiffs are parents Ron and Lauren Parrish, Victor and Laura Craig, Casey and Chastidy Laws, and Rachelle Siverly.  Little Rock Attorney Theresa Caldwell will represent them. The children named in the lawsuit, all boys, will be called by the letters L,A,S,and G.

Also listed in the lawsuit are the district, the School Board, Superintendent Michael Poore, and Arkansas Department of Education. According to news outlet the Democrat Gazette the lawsuit stated that the boys were “subjected to discrimination, punished for exhibiting disability related behaviors, and deprived of public educational services offered to children without disabilities.”

The students were also psychically restrained and abused and sometimes watched their peers get treated the same. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that all children, regardless of their learning differences, should get an equal chance at education without discrimination.

The Democrat Gazette contacted Director of communications Paul Stolt who declined to comment and referred all questions to district lawyer Marshall Ney. He also declined to comment, while he was unable to speak, the district had prevailed in cases involving the students. Caldwell stated the hearings Ney referred too had to happen before the parents could take legal action.

Board president Travis Riggs also declined to speak.

Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead.

Source: Dave Perozek on the Democrat Gazette: Lawsuit alleges mistreatment of Bentonville autistic students