The California Department of Education must be held accountable for the use of restraint and seclusion practices across public and private schools across the state.
13 year old Max Benson, a student diagnosed with autism, had his life taken from him far too soon on November 18, 2018 at the hands of Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills by the use of a violent prone restraint. He was held in a face-down restraint for 105 minutes continuously, as he urinated, vomited on himself, and bit his lip until unconscious. Max’s offense that cost him his life? Spitting and kicking the wall.
The staff that are responsible for his tragic death are teacher Kimberly Wohlwend who held him in the restraint, school nurse David Chambers who arrived 15 minutes after Max lost consciousness to perform CPR, Guiding Hands Principal Staranne Meyers and Site Administrator Cindy Keller, owners of the school who directed staff to use prone restraints. As well as the Davis Joint Unified School District, who sent Max to Guiding Hands school with no oversight.
Various staff members performed these restraints on many other students as well, some restraints lasting over 2 hours. These same teachers have faced no charges or consequences and are currently teaching at other schools across northern California; utilizing these abusive restraints as we speak.
Max is only one of the many student victims of the traumatic abuse under Guiding Hands School’s supervision. Some students are so traumatized they have been unable to return to school at all since, robbing them of their right to an education.
There is also a civil case that Max Benson’s family brought against Guiding Hands School, Handle with Care and the CDE, along with 9 other plaintiff students with disabilities that also endured abuse in prone restraints.
Dangerous seclusion and restraint practices employed against disabled students at school is a statewide and even nationwide crisis that needs to be addressed immediately.
Controversial and often used, these little-known practices cause harm, even death, among U.S. schoolchildren
This starts with holding the California Department of Education accountable for letting these violent and dangerous practices continue here in California. Signing this petition will take action to end these deadly prone restraints and hold the people responsible accountable. We must be heard, for our children’ s sake and in honor of Max Benson’s life. Please help us ensure his life was not lost in vain.
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