Lawsuit Alleges Teacher Taped Mouth of Woman With Cerebral Palsy

By Jack Phillips

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Rosa Smith, who suffers from cerebral palsy, which alleges that a teacher taped the 27-year-old woman’s mouth shut with tape because she was making too much noise in a classroom.

It took place in March 2016 at High Point School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Now, a lawsuit claims that staffers at the school slapped her, gave her too much medication, and taped her mouth shut with duct tape. The staffer texted Smith’s mother with the photo and caption, “Help. She won’t be quiet!!!!”

The lawsuit said that two aides were in the classroom in addition to her teacher, CNN reported.

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that impacts a person’s movement, posture, muscle tone, and more.

As the Washington Post reported, Doreen Smith, the mother, has alleged that Rosa suffered abuse and neglect over the span of more than a decade. In February, an employee was spotted by a bus driver slapping Rosa in the face.

Doreen made a number of complaints, she said, but officials didn’t act, according to the Post.

“The school assured them that they were taking care of it, that they [the parents] were overreacting, that whatever was happening, whatever they saw or thought was going on, that it was the student’s fault,” Smith’s attorney, Jonathan Marko, told reporters.

He added that the suit is seeking seven-figure damages.

“The intensive program that Rosa was in, every time the parents would report a problem the school, would assure them that it was safe and that they were going to resolve the issues,” their attorney told CNN. “This was not a situation where they could pull their daughter out of the school and put them in another school. It’s not that easy. This is an intensive program she was put into that was supposed to keep her safe.”

Specifically, the suit was filed against former teacher Nesa Johnson, then-principal Anne Nakon, two other employees, and the school district.

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District told CNN that it’s not aware of any problems with the girl.

“As to the subject of this lawsuit, the family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district, until nearly a year after it occurred,” the district told CNN in a statement. “During that subsequent year, the student continued attending school, in the same classroom, with the same teacher. When we were first informed of the family’s concern, we immediately conducted a complete investigation and took appropriate remedial action.”

Rosa Smith now gets full time care and instruction from her parents at home.