SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CN) - An Indiana elementary school put an already traumatized special needs child into an "isolation box" the size of a phone booth, though it knew the child had a history of abuse, including watching another child die while confined in a small room, the girl's adoptive parents claim in court.
Angel and Allen Kildow, on behalf of their adopted daughter M.K., sued John Glenn School Corporation, and J.E.S.S.E. (Joint Educational Services in Special Education), in St. Joseph Superior Court. John Glenn School Corp. is a publicly funded school district in Walkeron, Ind.
"M.K. is the adopted daughter of the Kildows, and experienced a horrific early childhood under her biological parent," the lawsuit states.
"M.K.'s abuse and neglect at the hands of her biological mother included confinement for prolonged time periods in a small room, often with other children, one of whom died."
M.K. has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorder, conversion disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, her parents claim.
"Glenn and JESSE were both quite aware of M.K.'s history and trauma consequent to efforts to design an appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the student," according to the complaint.
"Glen and JESSE were frustrated with M.K.'s behavioral issues, and despite the child's history, devised an 'isolation box' to calm her down. This box was approximately the size of a phone booth. It was carpeted, and had just one small window.
"The isolation box made M.K. hysterical, and on at least one occasion, a teacher created severe abrasions on the child's arm while she was in the process of dragging her into the box, resulting in scars on M.K.'s arm. M.K. resisted vigorously, screaming and crying, and the teacher accompanied by two other staff members were finally able to slam the door shut.
"The isolation brought back flashbacks of the biological mother and her abuse, and resulted in both physical injury and severe emotional trauma and suffering.
"The mere presence of the isolation box in late August 2012 caused M.K. to become hysterical in the classroom, and she was dragged kicking and screaming by the school principal and another male staff member into the school office.
"These measures convinced M.K. that the school was an unsafe place, and she became prone to running away from school, eventually resulting in an arrest and juvenile proceedings."
The parents claim they eventually had to place M.K. in a residential facility for six months, at considerable cost, for psychological injuries stemming from the school's disciplinary practice.
"Glenn and JESSE were negligent in their treatment of M.K., which was wholly inappropriate for someone in her condition, and their acts and/or omissions proximately caused the injuries and damages suffered by M.K. and the Kildows," they say.
The parents seek damages for negligence.
They are represented by Mitchell Pote, of Indianapolis.