#newz Observer-Reporter Lawsuit alleges three McGuffey teachers mocked special-needs students Observer-Reporter Beth Suhon of Donegal Township and her attorney, Noah Geary, speak to reporters Thursday in Geary's office in… https://t.co/D49QaZchm6 via #hng #world #news pic.twitter.com/YPsDMvxpYq— Hurshal (@Hurshal) December 30, 2017
The mother of a child with learning disabilities is suing a school district after three teachers were caught mocking her daughter.
Beth Suhon of West Alexander, Pennsylvania, accused Washington County’s McGuffey School District of discriminating against her daughter, axing her special need’s program without consent from the child’s parents and retaliating against the family when they complained.
Suhon’s now eighth-grade daughter was diagnosed with Turner’s syndrome, a disorder that causes development and learning disabilities, when she was in first grade.
The mother alleged a teacher left a voicemail on her phone in February 2015 to inform her that her daughter was struggling in school. However, he did not properly hang up the phone and continued to talk to two other colleagues who were in the room with him. According to the lawsuit, the teachers were recorded mocking her daughter and another girl’s “mathematics ability, physical appearance and classroom behavior, punctuating these crass comments with derisive laughter,” according to the report.
“She could coal mine ... She could be a good coal miner!” one reportedly said.
“She has a pretty smile. Her teeth are crooked!” was another heartless comment. “She can walk!” added one of the teachers.
Suhon’s attorney Noah Geary said in the complaint that the teachers said “insulting, horrible things” about the girl but when the parents complained, the school district did nothing about it.
“They have no respect for children, especially children with special needs,” Suhon said.
She also said one of the teachers tried to justify their words when she spoke to Suhon the very same day.
“Her response to me was, ‘Have you ever had one of those days?’” Suhon said. “That was her reasoning for making hideous remarks about my child and another special-needs child.”
Special education hearing officer attorney Michael McElligott said the comments were “nearly unfathomable, and frankly heartbreaking.”
He also said the district argued the comments were focused on the other student in the conversation. However, the district officials did not clear this misunderstanding with Suhon in their later conversations, who still believes the teachers were mocking both the children.
Suhon also found that an education plan created for her daughter in September 2012 under the government’s Rehabilitation Act had been terminated in January 2014, without the school district informing the Suhon family.
“Nevertheless, in that time period, crossing two school years — which, of course, is an eternity for a child — Beth went to meetings with the teachers and said, we really don’t think this ... plan is working very well,” Geary said. “The teachers never said to Beth, ‘Oh, that’s because we removed it, and here’s why we did that.’”
For that reason, Suhon claimed the district was negligent in conducting the appropriate testing for her daughter resulting in years of delay in her education.
The Suhons took out their daughter from school and enrolled her in cyberschool for the rest of the year. The in 2016, they reluctantly placed her back in a McGuffey school. She is now in eighth grade.
The mother claimed the school district acted with “deliberate indifference” in case of her daughter and she is now seeking damages for several violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act.
Suhon also said she hopes the teachers learn their lesson and the school district puts them through counseling.
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