PHOENIX (CN) - An elementary school put a 7-year-old boy in a tiny, windowless "seclusion room" as often as four days a week for five months after letting him eat foods that caused his behavioral issues, his parents claim in court.
The Noyes family sued Deer Valley Unified School District No. 97 and Desert Sage Elementary School, in Maricopa County Court.
Eric and Leslie Noyes claim the school let their son, T.N., eat sugar, though he was "on a very strict, controlled diet and must avoid all foods that cause an allergic reaction."
They claim the school then punished the second-grader for "perceived behavioral issues" by putting him in "a room with dimensions approximately five feet by six feet, and seven feet high, which was located on the lowest floor of the school building."
The room, which the school calls a "cool down room," "was padded with vinyl covered tack materials," had no window, and a "child inside the room could not see out of the room once the door was closed," according to the complaint.
In taking T.N. to the room, teachers punished him "by grabbing him and dragging him down the hallway, forcing his head down toward the floor with two teachers on either side of T.N. which [caused] T.N. to fall on more than one occasion, causing injuries," the complaint states.
One time a staff member fell on top of the boy and dropped him on his head, the parents claim.
The Noyeses say their son "was put in the seclusion room no less than eleven (11) times by one account, seventeen (17) times by another account," or as often as four times per week from October 2011 through February.
The school "investigated only three occasions when T.N. was forcibly removed from his classroom and placed in the seclusion room," and only reported two of those incidents to the Noyeses, they claim.
When T.N. "had behavioral issues, he would suffer multiple scratches, bruises, and bruises to his ankles at the hands of defendants who personally and physically restrained him face down on the floor forcing him to inhale residue from carpet cleaning chemicals to which he is severely allergic and putting pressure on his back," according to the complaint.
While in the seclusion room, the Noyeses say, their son was denied access to a bathroom, was reprimanded for urinating on himself, and was forced to change his clothes in front of school employees. The parents say that defendants' "'behaviorist' claimed T.N. was urinating on himself to 'get attention,' apparently ignoring how humiliating the act of urinating on oneself is for a little boy."
Twice, the parents say, their son was forced "to eat his lunch on the filthy floor in the seclusion room and [was] served orange chicken which was on his list of 'do not eat' because of the high sugar content."
Because of the school's gross negligence, T.N. "missed out on school, suffered nightmares, sleep disturbance, and stomach aches; he has been frightened, and has suffered serious personal and emotional injuries," his parents say.
They seek compensatory, special, and general damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, negligence, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Hope Kirsch and Lori Kirsch-Goodwin of Scottsdale.