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Florida school investigating special needs teacher accused of physically abusing student

Posted at 4:24 PM, Nov 12, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. — A school in Florida is investigating a special needs teacher who is accused of physically abusing a student who was sent home with marks on his face in September.

Maya Collins says her 9-year-old son Omari has special needs. In early September, she received a phone call from his teacher at Lavoy Exceptional Center in Tampa, who told her Omari had acted out and had been restrained.

"She did say that he was acting out to where he required restraint, and in the process she wanted me to know that he was going to come home with marks on his face due to being restrained," Collins said.

A police report was filed after the incident and Tampa police found no charges were necessary, but not before they documented witness accounts.

One witness said Omari's teacher, who is not being identified because they're not facing charges, used a basket hold on Omari while walking him to the "calm down room."

It was there, according to the report, that Omari began to throw his shoes and hit his head against the wall.

Another witness recorded audio of the incident and, according to the police report, Omari's teacher can be heard yelling profanities at him.

“My thing is not against the restraint process. Again, it’s against how you’re doing it. I am pretty sure there is a safe way to do it without harming a child," Collins said.

A spokesperson with Lavoy Exceptional Center would not comment because the investigation into the teacher is ongoing.

Hillsborough County Public Schools policy says if a child is restrained, an incident report has to be prepared and documented within the first 24 hours.

Collins says that didn't happen.

The school's spokesperson emailed this statement to WFTS: "In general, there may be instances where a student may need to be escorted from one location to another to help reduce anxiety or separate them from a situation that may be contributing to a behavior issue. There is no restraint necessary in these cases, so a log would not need to be created."

Collins has obtained an attorney and has taken her concerns to Tallahassee.

She says she wants more transparency when it comes to student restraints at the school.

This story was originally published by Vanessa Araiza on WFTS.