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Teacher Put Kid in ‘the Vault,’ Grandpa Says

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (CN) - An elementary schoolteacher gave a disabled student who suffers from seizures a "beating" that bruised her butt, and locked her alone in "the vault," an "8-foot by 10-foot dark, closed-in room with no windows and a metal door that contains a combination lock," the child's grandfather claims in Federal Court.

The grandfather, Willie Wise, sued the Calhoun County School District and Blountstown Elementary schoolteacher Debbie Williams. Wise is the child's legal guardian.

Wise says his granddaughter suffers from seizures and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and takes medications for it, though her "severe seizures" are "not always controlled by medication." He says the defendants were "fully aware" of the girl's health and behavior problems.

Wise says William "violently spanked" the girl because she "became upset after Williams took a book from her." He says the bruise left a "prominent and large bruise" on her buttock. It was still visible three days later, so he took her to a doctor, "who was shocked at what he saw," the grandfather says.

He says that on the way home from the doctor, his granddaughter told her, "in summary, 'her butt will get well, but what she did not like at school was when they put her in the vault.'"

He says she told him that she had been put in "the vault" several times.

The day after the "beating," Wise says, "Superintendent Mary Sue Neves visited plaintiff Wise at his home regarding the incident. Neves told Plaintiff she would look into the matter, but she wanted to keep it quiet until after the election."

The child was beaten on Oct. 6, 2008, Wise says. The complaint does not elucidate why the superintendent allegedly wanted to keep it quiet until after the election.

The grandfather seeks damages for battery, civil right violations, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is represented by Marie Mattox of Tallahassee.

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