EXCLUSIVE: Suit says educators assaulted disabled student

EXCLUSIVE: Suit says educators assaulted disabled student

MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new lawsuit alleges that educators at a Mililani school assaulted an autistic student and that the school tried to cover it up.

William and Colyn Chang said they pulled "Jayda" out of Kipapa Elementary School two years ago after learning of the incident.

"My daughter is bent over the table and one of the teachers is right behind her trying to hold her down. The other teacher is by her head, holding my daughter's neck. All this time my daughter is screaming," said William Chang, the girl's step father.

"The initial reaction for my wife and I is total shock. How could something like this happen?"

Jayda, now 10, is severely autistic with limited speech skills.

According to the federal court lawsuit, Jayda was held down for more than five minutes after she started to act out.

The suit also claims the staffer in charge of implementing Jayda's special-needs programs had no formal training in handling autistic children.

Eric Seitz, the family's attorney, said school officials never told the Changs about the incident. He said the couple found out three months after the fact when a teacher's aide showed them a video of the incident.

According to the suit, two skills trainers at the school showed Yogi a picture about a month after it occurred, prompting her to look into the matter.

But instead informing the Changs about the incident, Yogi later invited members of her own church on campus to meet with the educators involved to pray about the matter, Seitz said.

"Which is I say is almost as alarming," Seitz said.

"As far as we know, no action was ever taken despite the fact that this girl was essentially assaulted at school."

Hawaii News Now attempted to reach Yogi today but were told she was in meetings. The Department of Education also declined comment because it was named in the suit.

Since this video surfaced, Jayda has transferred to a private school and gets private tutoring paid for by the DOE.

The department fought the move but an administrative judge ordered it to foot the bill.

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