An Arizona couple is suing their son's former school district for allegedly throwing him in a tiny, windowless room for bad behavior they say was caused by officials ignoring his severe allergies and feeding him foods packed with sugar.
Leslie and Eric Noyes of Glendale, Ariz., filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Court last week against Deer Valley Unified School District No. 97 and Desert Sage Elementary School, where their son attended second grade last year.
The complaint, obtained by Courthouse News Service, charges school officials with assault and battery, false imprisonment, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress on their son.
The couple is seeking compensation for their son's medical treatment and transportation costs to send him to a school outside his district as well as general damages.
According to the lawsuit, the boy -- identified only as T.N. -- was 7 years old at the time of the alleged abuses. The Noyes say school officials provided various foods containing sugar to their son, even though they had been formally told the boy had "severe food allergies" and was "on a very strict, controlled diet and must avoid all foods that cause an allergic reaction." School officials had been notified, they said, that "foods containing sugar caused behavioral issues."
Despite those warnings, the complaint said, school officials insisted that T.N.'s allergies and behavior were unrelated and punished his acting out by putting him in a seclusion room as often as four times a week over a period of more than four months from October 2011 through February. Despite numerous trips to the time-out room, some lasting most of the school day, the Noyes say they were notified only twice -- a violation of district policy.
The complaint said school officials would "punish T.N. 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." The parent said their son suffered multiple bruises and that once a staff member fell on top of him and dropped him on his head. He also was made to "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."
During his confinement to the 5-foot by 5-foot padded room, the boy "showed signs of respiratory distress and panic attacks," the lawsuit alleged.
He also was denied permission to go to the bathroom, causing him to twice urinate on himself "for which he was reprimanded." The complaint went on to say that the school's " 'behaviorist' concluded that the boy urinated on himself "to 'get attention,' apparently ignoring how humiliating the act of urinating on oneself is for a little boy." The child was "further humiliated and embarrassed" when school officials ordered him to change his wet clothes in front of them.
All this left the second grader "in a constant state of anxiety and fear" and because of "repeated overly punitive actions and false imprisonment, T.N. missed out on school, suffered nightmares, sleep disturbance, and stomach aches" and has "suffered serious personal and emotional injuries."
The Noyes first brought attention to what some call "scream rooms" in February when they were interviewed by a local TV station. At the time, the couple said they had been told their son, who was in a special education class, was "'out of control." They made no mention on air of their contention that school officials were feeding their son foods that could cause behavior problems.
The CBS 5 News segment featured video secretly recorded by Leslie Noyes. It showed the padded, windowless box in an empty classroom.
"My son has said he's been there anywhere from a few minutes to almost all day," she told the TV reporter. "He has been complaining about being restrained -- he uses that word, restrained. And being put into cool down."
School district spokeswoman Heidi Vega declined to discuss details of the pending litigation with The Huffington Post.
In a statement, the district said, "If a child requires the use of seclusion/physical intervention, parents are notified immediately. Two adults always accompany the child when secluded. This is the last method of behavior management schools use with a student. Our staff is fully trained on non-violent crisis intervention and put student safety first at all times. The safety of all students is important and remains a top priority in Deer Valley."
The use of cool down rooms in the same county whose controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio has forced prison inmates to wear pink underwear isn't unique to Arizona. School officials across the country have used seclusion rooms, most often for special education students or those diagnosed as autistic. The practice is controversial. In 2004, a 13-year-old Georgia student hanged himself after his parents said he was traumatized by being put in a time-out room.
Arizona has written policies on the use of seclusion and restraint but, according to the U.S. Department of Education, it has no laws regulating its use in schools.
A Houston, Texas teacher and teacher's aide have been removed from their classroom for allegedly disciplining their pre-K students by placing them in custodial closets <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/monster-closet-used-to-pu_n_1546426.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">they nicknamed "monster closets."</a>
Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp, a 47-year-old Zephyrhills High School science teacher in Zephyrhills, Fla., is under fire after<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/laurie-bailey-cutkomp-teacher-uses-dog-collar-to-punish-students_n_1506376.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink"> photos of her students wearing dog collars as punishment</a> for bad behavior surfaced on Facebook.
Clayton High School Principal Louise Losos resigned following a leave of absence after an accusation that Losos had created a Facebook profile <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/louise-losos-clayton-high_n_1495476.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">pretending to be a student named Suzy Harriston.</a>
A middle school teacher in South Carolina has been accused of dragging a student under a table during class, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/sc-teacher-facing-charges_0_n_1465762.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">telling the boy "this is what the Nazis do to Jews," police said.</a> The 12-year-old student said he got up to sharpen a pencil at Bluffton Middle School on Wednesday when Patricia Mulholland grabbed him by his collar and said, "come here, Jew," police said. The teacher then dragged him 10 feet under a table and made the comment about Nazis, according to police.
Jack Conkling, a Prairie Hills Middle School social studies teacher and Buhler High School assistant women's basketball coach in Buhler, Kan., is under fire <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/jack-conkling-teacher-writes-being-gay-just-like-being-a-murderer_n_1527608.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">after equating being gay to being a murderer</a> on his Facebook profile.
New York Teachers
Teachers at a Brooklyn elementary school are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/teachers-accused-of-givin_n_1556621.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">accused of giving their students the answers on standardized tests</a>. In return for high scores on those tests, teachers at Public School 94 were allegedly offered smaller classes and fewer non-English-speaking students.
George C. Marshall High School Teacher
A Virginia high school English teacher was under investigation for allegedly asking the only black student in the class <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/18/george-c-marshall-high-sc_n_1358044.html" target="_hplink">to read a poem in a "blacker" manner</a>. Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., says he was reading aloud Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord" when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him. "She told me, 'Blacker, Jordan -- c'mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'" Shumate said.
A teacher at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif., was under investigation after ninth-grade student Dionne Evans went to local authorities claiming the educator <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/dionne-evans-malibu-high-_n_1563647.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">slapped her six times for not bringing her notebook to class.</a>
A kindergarten teacher in Georgia has stirred controversy after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/bermuda-triangle-award_n_1571656.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">presenting one of her students with the "Bermuda Triangle Award," </a>honoring the student's desk -- or "the place where things go in but never come back out."
Kathleen Pyles, a math teacher at North End Middle School in Waterbury, Conn., was on paid leave while school officials investigate allegations that she addressed a black student with a racist remark. Parents and the NAACP spoke out during a Board of Education meeting, accusing Pyles of inappropriately <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/kathleen-pyles-connecticu_n_1580779.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">calling a student "black boy" when she couldn't remember his name</a>.
Union Elementary School Official
Parents in Clinton, North Carolina, were outraged after an assistant principal <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/third-grader-strip-search_n_1609415.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">gave a third-grader a strip search</a> there. The Union Elementary School official believed the boy had stolen money and ordered him to strip to his boxers.
A Tampa Bay, Fla. school teacher <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/florida-teacher-suspended_n_1613309.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">was suspended for three days without pay </a>after allowing one of her students to write and present a speech that criticized a former Oakstead Elementary teacher by name.
Matt Hansen, a 38-year-old teacher for the Fort Zumwalt School District in O'Fallon, Mo., has been charged with felony possession of child pornography after a local cyber crimes unit found<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/26/matt-hansen-former-missouri-teacher-accused-of-taping-80-boys-undressing_n_1628926.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink"> he allegedly videotaped 80 male students undressing</a>.
Diane John, the mother whose 15-year-old son suffered a beatdown at the hands of much larger teacher Stephan Hudson, sought criminal charges against the offending public school dean and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/brooklyn-mother-suing-cit_n_1637930.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">sued the city for $5.5 million</a> after being shown surveillance footage of the incident.
Steve McClenning and Billie Madewell
The Scholars Academy Principal Steve McClenning and assistant Billie Madewell <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/arizona-principal-caught-in-make-out-session-fired_n_1459968.html" target="_hplink">have both lost their jobs</a> at the Quartzsite, Ariz. school after the two were caught passionately making out on video.
Audrey Grabarkiewicz, a 46-year-old preschool teacher at Lake Bowen Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/01/audrey-grabarkiewicz-teacher-avoids-jail-for-teen-sex-parties_n_1641676.html" target="_hplink">managed to avoid jail time</a> despite being arrested for throwing alcohol and sex parties for teens last year.
A Texas teacher lost her job after ordering <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/16/district-texas-teacher-ha_n_1601980.html?utm_hp_ref=school-bullying" target="_hplink">more than 20 kindergartners to line up and hit a classmate</a> accused of being a bully. The teacher at a suburban San Antonio school is accused of orchestrating the slugfest after a younger teaching colleague went to her seeking suggestions on how to discipline the 6-year-old, according to a police report from the Judson Independent School District.
Bronx teacher Marcy Rubenstein allegedly duct-taped a rowdy student to his chair while other classmates laughed and pushed him around, after she became irritated that the student <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/teacher-duct-tapes-studen_n_1609459.html?utm_hp_ref=school-bullying" target="_hplink">repeatedly got up during a test.</a>
Indiana teacher Samuel Fies <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/samuel-fies-indiana-teach_n_1148383.html?ref=Education&ir=Education" target="_hplink">was fired from Highland High School</a> after he was arrested and charged in December 2011 with multiple counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, child molestation, criminal confinement, child solicitation and attempted child seduction.
Ohio science teacher John Freshwater was fired in early 2011 after being accused of preaching religious beliefs in class and keeping a Bible on his desk. Freshwater appealed the firing, but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/06/john-freshwater-ohio-scie_n_997996.html" target="_hplink">a judge upheld the decision in October 2011.</a>
Jill Lyle, a substitute teacher in Santa Fe, N.M. was fired in November 2011 after she was<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/jill-lyle-santa-fe-substi_n_972437.html" target="_hplink"> reportedly found passed out drunk while on the job.</a>
Sean Loftis, a Florida substitute teacher who starred in gay porn films under the pseudonym Collin O'Neal, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/24/sean-loftis-gay-porn-star-fired-teacher_n_935199.html" target="_hplink">lost his teaching job in October 2011</a> after his X-rated activities came to light.
Andrew Harris, a science teacher at Glacier Creek Middle School in Cross Plains, Wis. first lost his job for looking at porn at work. The school district decided in March 2012, however, that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/andrew-harris-teacher-who_n_1317517.html" target="_hplink">he would be offered to be reinstated and given back pay and benefits estimated at $200,000.</a>
An unnamed teacher at Tallulah Elementary School in Tallulah, La. was fired in March 2012 after she failed to notice two third grade students <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/third-graders-oral-sex-tallulah-elementary-school_n_1375399.html" target="_hplink">allegedly having oral sex under a classroom table.</a>
A teacher at the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. was fired after she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/christian-washington-taped-to-chair-by-teacher_n_1341817.html" target="_hplink">allegedly taped Christian Washington, a 9-year-old vision-impaired student, to his classroom chair.</a>
A Washington, D.C. teacher was fired in March 2012 for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/05/teacher-fired-for-giving-_n_1322173.html" target="_hplink">sending home violent, morbid and traumatizing math problems</a> to third graders at Center City Public Charter School's Trinidad campus.
Teacher Brooke Harris says she was let go from her position at Pontiac Academy for Excellence in Pontiac, Mich., in March <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/brooke-harris-michigan-teacher-fired-trayvon-martin-fundraiser_n_1414870.html?ref=Education&ir=Education" target="_hplink">after attempting to help students organize a hoodie-themed fundraiser for the family of Trayvon Martin.</a> In this AP photo, a man wears a hoodie and a scarf with the likeness of Trayvon Martin during a "One Thousand Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin" event Thursday, March 29, 2012 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Renee Jones Schneider)
Jarretta Hamilton, a fourth grade teacher, was fired from the Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fla. in 2009 because the child she was carrying <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/jarretta-hamilton-teacher_n_1416122.html?ref=Education&ir=Education" target="_hplink">was conceived two months before she and her husband married. </a>
Indiana teacher Emily Herx says she was fired from her Roman Catholic school -- St. Vincent de Paul school in Fort Wayne -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/catholic-school-ivf_n_1453524.html?1335557656" target="_hplink">for using in vitro fertilization to try to get pregnant.</a>
Meredith Burris Pruitt
31-year-old Meredith Burris Pruitt was fired in March 2012 from Forestview High School in Gastonia, N.C. after she was accused of selling, and employing students to help sell,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/meredith-burris-pruitt-teacher-arrested-for-using-students-to-sell-drugs_n_1400135.html" target="_hplink"> prescription drugs around the school.</a>
Jeffrey Robert Sears Jr.
Jeffrey R. Sears Jr., a 29-year-old former teacher at Glen Burnie High School, faces more than 50 years in prison after allegedly having sex with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/jeffrey-robert-sears-jr-accused-of-sex-acts-with-students-at-school-in-car_n_1432069.html" target="_hplink">15 and 16-year-old students over the course of two years.</a>
Megan Denman, a 29-year-old social sciences teacher at Hoover High School in Fresno, Calif. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/megan-denman-teacher-arrested-for-having-oral-sex-with-student_n_1421237.html" target="_hplink">was placed on paid leave in the spring of 2012</a> for allegedly performing oral sex on and sleeping with a student who was under the age of 18.
California teacher Stacie Halas was fired from Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School in April 2012 for<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/stacie-halas-fired-porn-film_n_1437467.html?1335557660" target="_hplink"> performing in a pornographic video.</a>
Bernadette Camacho, a 39-year-old teacher in Queens, New York, was fired from Hillcrest High School in January 2012 after reportedly telling students they had their <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/bernadette-camacho-former-teacher-fired-for-badmouthing-students_n_1181678.html" target="_hplink">"brains in their ass" and attempting to bribe them to keep quiet.</a>
a bullying attack by peers -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/john-rosi-washington-midd_n_1841998.html?utm_hp_ref=school-bullying">and at some points, by the teacher</a>. The incidents occurred in February at a Gig Harbor middle school. Cell phone footage shows more than a dozen students dragging the then-eighth-grade boy around the classroom, carrying him by his arms and legs, burying him under chairs, writing on his feet and stuffing his socks in his mouth. The antics last about 15 minutes while teacher John Rosi watches, and later joins in.
North Carolina Teacher
A state investigation was been opened at Hudson Middle School in Caldwell County, N.C., following allegations that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/north-carolina-student-cardboard-box_n_1524239.html?utm_hp_ref=teachers" target="_hplink">a teacher forced a student with special needs to sit in a cardboard box</a> as a disciplinary measure.