WCSD Sued For Assault & Battery

RENO, NV - A Reno couple has filed a lawsuit against the Washoe County School District claiming assault, negligence, and civil rights violations involving their teenage daughter. It involves the daughter of Kurt and Michelle Huntoon. She is described as having multiple disabilities.

The complaint says the girl went to Spanish Springs High School from August to November 2011.

MH, as she is identified, principally communicated with sign language.

The plaintiff says during her schooling at Spanish Springs, the girl was subjected to aversive interventions, inappropriate physical constraints and excessive bodily force, all by employees with the Washoe County School District.

They say on one occasion she was forced to lie flat on the floor as employees held her and restricted her movement for about 14 minutes.

The restraints, the lawsuit says, put her at high risk for asphyxia, which can result in serious injury or death.

Such activity, the lawsuit claims, caused her to act out more frequently.

For its part, the school district says it cannot comment on the case because it has not yet been served.

However, this is not the first time the district has been criticized for the way it handles students it feels have excessive emotional outbursts.

Some schools are equipped with what are called seclusion rooms, where students are taken to calm down.

But two months ago, advocacy groups and students themselves asked the school board to get rid of the rooms.

A task force was set up to look at the issue and according to the district, positive changes have been made from the makeup of the rooms themselves to training of personnel who use them.

“What we want for all kids to come to school and feel welcome, feel safe, that it is a positive environment for them. And as far as safety is concerned, when we have things escalate be able to set up a situation where we can keep people from being harmed,” says Frank Selvaggio, Executive Director of WCSD Student Support Services.

KOLO 8 News Now tried to contact the plaintiff's attorney to get more information on the lawsuit, but our calls were not returned.

The lawsuit says the pinning incidents happened 110 times to MH over seven weeks.