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Mother of Child with Autism Speaks About Allegation of Abuse at Carthage School

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CARTHAGE, MISSOURI -

Parents of a child with autism speak about a lawsuit they've filed against the Carthage School District for alleged abuse.  The alleged incident happened in 2014.  

This lawsuit doesn't ask for a dollar amount yet.  An attorney for the plaintiff says there's no question the boy in this case is still dealing with emotional stress, though he can't communicate those feelings.  The attorney says it's also important to make sure the school district is preventing something like this from happening again.

"I was only allowed to walk him to the hallway by the office," says Amanda Smith.

But Smith says she wanted to see if there was anything wrong in her son Joseph's special education classroom at Columbian Elementary School.

"It would take us 45 minutes to get from our vehicle to the school because he would be fighting us," says Smith.  "Screaming.  Yelling.  Saying, 'No, Mommy.  No, Mommy'."

Smith says the school district superintendent tried to pacify the worry.

"He would investigate and make sure that nothing was going on, that everything was good in the class.  But as a parent, you have that feeling that something isn't right.  I felt so hopeless," says Smith.

Smith says a few weeks later, a Missouri Department of Child Services worker called her.  According to Amanda, unknown to her, a paraprofessional had reported Joseph's teacher abusing him.

"There were other children, too," says Smith.  "But Joseph was the main one in the case.  Your baby was hurt, and you weren't able to protect him.  (The teacher) took Joseph and made him bend over and put his fingers on the floor and she would step on his fingers.  When he was having a meltdown, he would spit and she would rub his face into the floor, like you would a dog if they had pottied on the carpet.  She would smash his fingers in the door."

Joseph is now going to a different Carthage elementary school.

"No one has ever taken a moment to admit to say we've done this to improve.  We've done this to make sure things like this are not happening," says Timothy Intessimone, an attorney with the Elizabeth Turner Law Firm who is representing Smith.

"Classrooms with the children like Joseph, they're not generally recorded.  We do recordings on school buses, cafeterias, and hallways to protect both the people who work there and then the children who go there," says Intessimone.

Smith says it's time for justice for Joseph, and any other kids in similar situations.

Smith's attorney is suing the Carthage School District, Joseph's former teacher, the school district's former superintendent, and the school's principal.  Only the school's principal is still employed by the school district.  

The district's assistant superintendent has not returned our phone call for comment.

Click here for a petition filed by some of the defense to dismiss this case.  

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