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Alarming Suit Over Autistic Boy in Body Sock

(CN) - After an autistic child knocked out his own teeth while struggling in a "body sock" that he was zipped into, someone "shoved them back in his mouth," the boy's mother claims in a federal complaint.

Naqis Crochran, by his mother, Amatullah Shields, filed the action on Feb. 18 in Columbus against the city's Board of Education, Columbus City Schools, and five individuals affiliated with those entities.

Shields says Crochran, who turns 13 in October, has autism, ADHD and asthma, and that the school arranged an individualized education program for him with special education teacher Courtney Plummer on Oct. 16, 2012.

Citing the student accident report that Crochran's teacher filled out regarding the day he lost his teeth, Feb. 20, 2013, Shields says the trouble began when Crochran was "laughing uncontrollably and being silly" in Plummer's classroom at South Mifflin STEM Academy.

Laura Shearer, another teacher, "suggested that Ms. Plummer use what was described as a 'purple body sock' to restrain the child," according to the complaint.

Shields maintains, however, "that the body sock was too small for" Crochran, and "that he was placed into the device with his coat and backpack on, which was an inappropriate use of the device itself."

"The purple sock was not Naqis' device or approved medical treatment; it belonged to another child," the complaint states.

Crochran was zipped into the sock and standing on a concrete or marble floor when he tried "to move about, lost his balance and fell, knocking out one or more of his front adult teeth."

Shields says both the school nurse, Mary Nicole Ramming RN, and a teacher named only as "Ms. Brooks" have admitted to shoving the broken tooth or teeth back in the boy's mouth and then calling the child's father to pick him up and get emergency medical treatment.

The nurse allegedly told Crochran's father, Asad Shabazz, "that his child fell, but she did not tell him how or why."

"The father asked the nurse to please call the ambulance if his son needed emergency medical help, because he was unable to come quickly to assist his son," the complaint states. "The nurse refused to call an ambulance, and also did not call the police."

Shields says she ultimately "drove across town to pick up her child and take him to the emergency room" at Children's Hospital.

"The parents believe there were deliberate attempts by the defendants to protect themselves and co-workers and cover up the incident," the complaint states.

Crochran's nurse and teachers allegedly "did not report the incident to the school principal [Andrew Smith], and he did not report it to the school district for four days."

The complaint alleges that "the parents requested an incident report from the school, but it was not completed the day of the incident." The school's eventual report is not dated.

Shields claims she "has had to take off significant time from her full-time job to care for her special needs son after this trauma," including taking him to the dentist for two root canals.

Crochran "still experiences mouth pain which has affected his diet and his ability to eat," the complaint states. "The parents have noted a decrease in their son's body mass index."

Indeed, Crochran exhibits "mistrust of Caucasian women since the incident," his parents say.

"In a letter to the parents dated March 26, 2013, Franklin County Children Services found that claims of neglect against Courtney Plummer were substantiated," the complaint states. Plummer and Smith were allegedly suspended with pay for five and 10 days, respectively.

Shields says Plummer was prosecuted for child endangering under state law, but that neither she nor Shabazz were allowed to testify and the case was dismissed.

The complaint seeks punitive damages for violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education, Rehabilitation, and Americans with Disabilities Acts; the Fourth and 14th Amendments; and the Ohio Constitution.

Shields is represented by Robert Fitrakis and Constance Gadell-Newton in Columbus.

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