03 Nov Student’s leg amputated after contractor body-slammed him, lawyer says; police investigating

November 3, 2016

By: Kristina Guerra

Source: washingtonpost.com

A 13-year-old student in Georgia was badly injured and lost his leg after a behavioral specialist slammed him to the ground multiple times while at school last month, the boy’s attorney said.

Montravious Thomas’s injuries — which included a fractured tibia, a dislocated knee and permanent nerve damage — were so severe that his right leg had to be amputated weeks after the incident.

“It was certainly an emotional issue for him, and it still is; he’s 13,” the boy’s attorney, Renee Tucker, told The Washington Post. “He was scared with all the surgery. He doesn’t understand what happened and why it happened.”

Police are investigating the Sept. 12 incident at at Edgewood Student Services, an alternative school in the Muscogee County School District in Columbus, Ga. Columbus Police Lt. Consuelo Askew told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on Friday that an investigation is underway, though Askew declined to tell the newspaper who is being investigated.

“Hopefully it’s coming to an end soon,” Askew said. “I’ve still got a few interviews to do.”

Tucker, the attorney, said the incident happened shortly before 2 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Because Edgewood Student Services is an alternative school, Montravious was supposed to attend only a few hours of class in the afternoon, Tucker said.

There have been various accounts of how and why the injuries happened.

Tucker said she had heard some stating that Montravious was being disorderly and was swinging something in the classroom. The Ledger-Enquirer cited a police report saying that Bryant Mosley, the behavioral specialist, told an officer he had to physically restrain Montravious due to behavioral issues.

Tucker said that what she knows is that Montravious wanted to leave the classroom to call his mother and have her pick him up. But Mosley refused to let him leave and picked the boy up and slammed him to the ground, Tucker said. Montravious was slammed to the ground two more times, she said.

Tucker said there were at least three other school employees who saw the incident, but no one took the boy to the hospital after he yelled in pain and said his right leg was numb. Instead, Mosley carried Montravious to the school bus, and he was driven home.

His mother took him to the hospital, where they arrived around 3:30 p.m. — about 90 minutes after the incident was alleged to have happened.

“The leg was never stabilized until he got to the hospital,” Tucker said.

The boy was airlifted to a hospital in Atlanta that night for further examination. Over the next month, Montravious went through four surgeries to save his right leg, Tucker said. It was amputated Oct. 18, and he will have to go through physical therapy.

“My heart goes out to the family, but I have no comment,” Mosley said, referring further questions to his lawyer, Robert Poydasheff.

Mosley is a behavioral specialist for Mentoring Behavioral Services, which provides contract work to the Muscogee County School District. He is not a district employee.

“At this point, we are still in the early stages of investigating the events which occurred,” Poydasheff, the attorney, said in an email. “We are certainly very concerned for Montravious and our hearts go out to him. He and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Valerie Fuller, spokeswoman for the Muscogee County School District, said in statement that the school officials will thoroughly review the incident “to determine all of the facts and to make any necessary recommendation.”

According to Fuller, witnesses said the teen was up and walking and did not appear to be in distress after the incident. School officials also tried multiple times to contact the boy’s mother, but to no avail, Fuller said.

Fuller told the Ledger-Enquirer on Friday that the district’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“It has been on advice of legal counsel that MCSD has refrained from commenting on threatened litigation beyond the information provided by MCSD’s Communications office,” Fuller wrote in an email, according to the newspaper. “The bulk of the relevant facts involving Montravious and his history in the District are educational records that MCSD cannot publicly discuss or release pursuant to federal law.

“This incident at AIM/Edgewood did not occur in a vacuum. It is our understanding that there were issues concerning the safety of the child and others in the room, which called for the use of restraint per state guidance. It is not appropriate for the District to publicly release information that is derived from the child’s educational records, which might provide further context.”

Mosley is trained to prevent and manage aggressive behavior, Fuller told The Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

Physically restraining a student is prohibited in Georgia public schools except in instances in which the student “is a danger to himself or others” and is not responding to orders from adults, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

But Tucker said she and the boy’s family believe physically restraining Montravious would not have resulted in such severe injuries. They say Mosley did what’s called prone restraint, which involves placing a student face down on the floor and applying pressure on the student’s body, which is prohibited in Georgia public schools.

Whether that is the case remains unknown. The Columbus Police Department is still investigating the incident.

Tucker said she has requested video footage from inside and outside the classroom, copies of personnel files of those who may have witnessed the incident and information on the school district’s policies on restraining students.

Tucker said the family plans to file a lawsuit against the school district within the next two months. It will focus on failure to supervise and provide medical attention, negligent training and negligent hiring.

Montravious was attending East Columbus Middle School before he was transferred to Edgewood Student Services, which has an alternative program for third- to 12th-graders with behavioral issues.

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