Mother Blames School for Daughter’s Death

(CN) – A mother claims her 9-year-old daughter, who had a seizure disorder, died four days after a physically abusive teacher’s aide shoved her repeatedly and left her to suffer a seizure on the floor, telling her, “Get up; no one is going to help you get up,” and, “I don’t like you anyway.”

     Kelli Shinn says her late daughter, Destini, a special ed student, had difficulty maintaining her balance. She sued the Detroit Public Schools, Helen Field School principal Stephen Artt, and the allegedly abusive teacher’s aide, Vivian Hawkins Washington, in Wayne County Court.
     Shinn claims Washington “had a history of administering corporal punishment to special education students,” including to her daughter, Destini.
     Shinn says a special education aide was helping Destini walk from the school bus to school on April 29, 2008, when Washington “snatched Destini Shinn away from the aide, and began repeatedly and forcefully pushing her toward the school building while ordering her to walk straight on her own. Defendant Washington’s continuous forceful pushing caused Destini Shinn’s head and neck to repeatedly snap back and forth.”
     Shinn claims that Washington “shoved Destini Shinn into a chair,” then ordered her to get out of the chair, and when Destini cold not, “grabbed and jerked her up out of the chair, against causing Destini’s head and neck to snap back and forth.”
     The complaint continues: “Destini Shinn was unable to walk, so defendant Washington then resumed pushing Destini Shinn in the upper back, again causing her head to snap back, and then Destini fell forward and hit her chin on the floor, causing her head to snap backward with great force.
     “Destini Shinn immediately went into a seizure while on the floor. Defendant Washington then stated to Destini Shinn, ‘I don’t like you anyway,’ and directed her to ‘get up; no one is going to help you get up,’ and then she left Destini on the floor suffering a seizure.”
     The mother says Artt was summoned and was told of Washington’s behavior, but did not write an incident report, did not report Washington to any authority, did not get medical help, and did not tell Destini’s mother about “the physical trauma which immediately preceded the seizure.” She says Artt sent Destini home early that day, and Destini “suffered increased seizures until she died from a seizure on May 3, 2008, four days after the incident.”
     She demands punitive damages for assault and battery, wrongful death, gross negligence, and civil rights violations. She is represented by David Robinson of Southfield, Mich.

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