Parents sense pay dirt after autistic daughter arrested at school

By Calvin Palmer

The dollar signs are flashing up for the parents of an eight-year-old autistic girl who was arrested at school on suspicion of battery.

Charles and Spring Towry have filed a tort claim against Lake Pend Oreille School District and Bonner County, Idaho, claiming more than $500,000 in damages.

Their third-grade daughter, Evelyn, has Asperger’s syndrome. She was arrested in January at Kootenai Elementary School after staffers said she spit on and inappropriately touched two instructors.

The child was handcuffed and taken to the county’s juvenile lockup, where she was released to her parents. The county prosecutor later dropped the charge against the girl.

The school district and county have 180 days to settle the claim or reject it and risk a lawsuit.

Why did the parents settle for such a paltry sum? Surely a couple of million dollars, at the very least, would have made more sense.

But common sense has once again flown out of the window.

Asperger’s syndrome seems almost to have become a “Get Out of Jail” card.

Lawyers in Britain are arguing that Gary McKinnon should not face trial in the U.S. for hacking into American military computers because he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.

Has it not occurred to the Towrys that the arrest was made in good faith and the county prosecutor exercised good judgment in not pursuing charges because of the child’s tender years and medical condition? Or would they rather have had their daughter taken to court and face possible incarceration in a juvenile offenders’ institution for a number of years?

It seems to me like the Towrys not only want their cake but they also want to eat it. Well, I have some news for Charles and Spring, life does not work that way. And there are plenty of more deserving cases of injustice in the world than yours.

I hope the school district and county stand firm and reject this ludicrous claim. Perhaps the American legal system will redeem itself with a judge who has the good sense to throw this case out of court, with the Towrys having to pay costs. A figure of $500,000 would sound just about right to me.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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1 Comment

Filed under Education, Justice, News

One response to “Parents sense pay dirt after autistic daughter arrested at school

  1. Why in the world would you look at this incident and sum it all up to the parents of an autistic child who were just waiting, hoping for pay dirt? When was the last time you saw anyone suing a big-pockets school system for under a million? These parents are suing for $500,000 — enough to make the system think twice about abusing a disabled child again.

    Do you know what started the whole incident? It wasn’t that the autistic child was out-of-control. It was that the adult teachers were out-of-control. Little Evelyn did not want to take off her favorite jacket. The teachers were so aggravated over this that they ended up holding down both of her arms and legs — leaving thumb size bruises. Now any reasonable adult, knowing the child had Asperberger’s and difficulties in expressing feelings, would have shrugged their shoulders and let her be. And what was up with the police? They didn’t recognize that it was inappropriate to handcuff an 8 year old and haul her off to jail? There is a good article on this at:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2009/07/autistic-8yearold-girl-arrested-and-jailed-for-touching-teachers.html

    I hope the Towrys win their law suit and that the school systems hire better-selected teachers and make sure they get some training about special education issues.

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