TAs accused of assaulting autistic student in Austintown

By Susan Tebben



The Mahoning County Educational Services Center has launched an investigation into allegations that a 16-year-old autistic student was assaulted and dragged through a hallway at Leonard Kirtz School by two teacher assistants.

The mother of the student filed a report Tuesday with Austintown police saying she had received a call Monday from a Mahoning County Children Services caseworker, who told her a teacher reported a possible assault Jan. 4.

The caseworker told the mother that a teacher, whose name was not released, had seen two of the teacher assistants from the student’s classroom “dragging him through the hall on his back by his wrist,” the police report stated.

The mother also told police the juvenile had come home with various cuts, bruises, a black eye and a broken nose in the past “several months,” according to the report.

When she spoke to the teacher and school administrators about the injuries, the administrators “had no answer to how they occurred,” the mother told police.

The classroom where the student was is operated by the MCESC and not Leonard Kirtz School, according to Larry Duck, superintendent of the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities. There are six children in the classroom during the school day, Duck said.

“We are aware there was an incident, and we are in the process of investigating it, but the investigation is not completed,” said Ronald Iarussi, superintendent of the MCESC. “Unfortunately, these types of incidents do occur, and we try to take the child’s best interest into consideration.”

According to the Ohio Revised Code, any person in official or professional capacity who has reason to believe physical or mental harm is or has been done to a child is required to report it to either a children-services agency or a peace officer.

The police report was forwarded to detectives, but Iarussi said the school would do its own investigation.

The teacher assistants, whose names were redacted from the police report, have not been charged, and no action has been taken by the center.

“We want to make sure we’re thorough,” Iarussi said.

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