By Susan Tebben
Three agencies are looking into the alleged assault of a 16-year-old autistic child at Leonard Kirtz School, but two of the investigations are on hold awaiting determinations by Mahoning County Children Services.
The mother of the student filed a report Jan. 8 with Austintown police saying she had received a call 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.
Investigations into the allegations were opened by the Mahoning County Educational Services Center, which operates the classroom in the school where the student was during the day, Mahoning County Children Services and the Austintown Police Department.
The aides, whose names were not released, have not been charged but have been placed on administrative leave by the school, according to ESC Superintendent Ron Iarussi. He said the workers were hired through a temporary help agency, Callos Medical Staffing of Youngstown.
“There is no glaring evidence that some procedure wasn’t followed,” Iarussi said. “We saw no intent to harm in their actions based on the statements they made.”
Representatives from Callos Medical Staffing did not respond to requests for comment.
Children Services has finished its investigation, according to Iarussi, but the center is still reviewing the findings. The ESC also has requested more information on the student.
“We have read through statements given by the people involved,” Iarussi said. “There were three educational aides [in the classroom], and there are things in the statements that are contradictory.”
Children Services declined to comment directly about the case but said when information is reported to the agency, investigators categorize the report, and the urgency of the investigation depends on the severity of the report. Representatives from Children Services did not know a specific time line for the Jan. 4 case.
Background checks were done, and the necessary training for working with special-needs students was conducted, Iarussi said.