A 13-year-old student enrolled in the Muscogee County School District’s AIM program alleges he was “thrown to the floor” multiple times by a teacher during a Sept. 12 altercation at the Edgewood Student Services Center, 3835 Forrest Road, causing permanent nerve damage to his leg.
AIM is an alternative school program for students who have been temporarily removed from their assigned school because of violations of behavior rules.
Attorney Renee Tucker, who represents the boy and his mother, said her client’s leg was severely injured as a result of the afternoon incident, but no one with the school rendered medical aid to her client. He said school officials initially told him they would call an ambulance but decided against it later on.
The teacher who was reportedly involved then carried him to the school bus and sent him home without notifying his family, she said.
“They placed an injured student on the school bus,” said Tucker, who stated that her client told officials that his leg was numb. “We don’t know the extent that the injuries were worsened by the failure to render aid and certainly by picking him up and seating him on the school bus. Then they had him ride in that same school bus home without any support or stabilization of that leg.”
His mother noticed that he was struggling to walk when he got home, so she took him to the Columbus Midtown Medical Center. He was airlifted to an Atlanta hospital that same day and remains there, Tucker said this afternoon.
She said he has had four leg surgeries since the incident and is stable as of this afternoon.
“He has at least about another month in the hospital, and then at that point in time he’ll be sent to another facility here in Atlanta for physical therapy,” the attorney said. “He has a broken leg, permanent nerve damage and damage to his knee cap.”
Tucker said the student, who was previously enrolled at East Columbus Middle School, stated that he was trying to leave the classroom and go to the main office so he could call his mother to pick him up.
That’s when the teacher stopped him for an unknown reason and slammed him to the floor to prevent him from leaving, Tucker said. The student said he was thrown to the floor a second time when he tried to leave again.
Tucker said it’s still unclear how many times it happened, but she stated that assistant principal Eddie Powell reportedly witnessed it at some point. She said a school resource officer saw the student limping afterward but didn’t assist or file a report.
“I don’t think there’s any explanation that a teacher can give as to why he didn’t want him to go to the administrative office to call his mother,” the attorney said, who was hired two weeks after the alleged incident.
Tucker said an “inside source” informed her that the school has video footage of the incident. She said she has submitted an open records request to the Muscogee County School’s board attorney on Sept. 26 requesting the footage along with more than 50 documents. That includes records concerning the teacher’s training, the teacher and assistant principal’s personnel record, the rules and regulations for physically restraining students, policies for transporting students on school buses, and policies and procedures about rendering aid to students.
Tucker said she has received a response from the school board’s attorney, whom she said agreed to release the documents once they’ve been collected.
Tucker said she anticipates filing a lawsuit based on how the student was reportedly restrained and the alleged lack of medical aid the school rendered.
“Our investigation is still ongoing, and I think we all have an interest in certainly getting to the bottom of it,” the attorney said.
Edgewood Student Services Center coordinator Reginald Griffin referred all questions about the allegation to MCSD communications director Valerie Fuller. In an email to the Ledger-Enquirer, Fuller said the district “respectfully declines to comment on pending or threatened litigation.”
-Staff writer Mark Rice contributed to this report.