ORANGE (CBSLA.com) — The family of a student with autism and epilepsy Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Orange Unified School District alleging the boy was abused during the 2012-2013 school year.
Attorney Michael Kinslow and Andrew Ashline’s mother and father announced the lawsuit at a 10 a.m. press conference.
Ashline’s family claims the 11-year-old was physically and psychologically abused while he was a student at Palmyra Elementary School. The allegations, which were brought to their attention by his one-on-one aide, led his family to remove him from the public school.
“This case is based upon serious allegations of abuse of an extremely vulnerable child who is nonverbal, and the one-on-one health aide who brought these allegations to light has shown real courage to help the child gain a voice,” Kinslow said in a statement.
Andrew’s parents say photographs prove how their son mutilated himself after the mistreatment.
One of the incidents allegedly occurred during a field trip. The Ashlines claim Andrew was dragged by his teacher and an aide a half-mile back to the classroom and was then abused further.
“Another aide and teacher took Andrew into an empty classroom, put him face down on the ground… rendering his all of his limbs immobilized for upwards of 12 minutes,” Andrew’s mother, Joanna Ashline, said.
“Andrew is nonverbal and he had no way to express his anxiety or what was occurring to him in the classroom setting and so he self-mutilated,” she added.
Her comments were echoed by Andrew’s father, Michael, who said he hopes the lawsuit will raise awareness about the mistreatment of students like his son.
“…I want justice for Andrew and I want to make sure that this doesn’t continue to happen to any other children,” he said.
An earlier claim filed with the Orange Unified School District was rejected. Legally, the lawsuit is the next step.
“We are seeking money damages because that is the only thing that I can ask for under the law,” Kinslow added.
“That is the absolute only thing I can ask for. If we could require the school district to undo what happened to Andrew, that would be the first thing, you know, that would be paragraph one.”
Officials from the Orange Unified School District and the police department looked into the allegations.
The district found no evidence of teacher misconduct and school officials say the police department will not be conducting any further investigation.
Kinslow meanwhile asked anyone with information about physical or psychological mistreatment of a child within the Orange Unified School District to come forward.
“We are so tired of hearing these stories,” Joanna Ashline said.