Officer Loses Job For Shackling Student in Texas

By Carter Thompson in The Daily News. Thanks to Cindy Newpher.

A safety officer at Austin Middle School who shackled an autistic child to his desk was fired on Friday.

The incident happened on Wednesday and revealed shortcomings in how
disabled students were supervised in the public schools, said the 12-year-old boy’s grandmother.

Flora Flisowski said her grandson, for whom she cares, wanders off
without constant supervision. He can cause mischief without intending to.
For instance, he flushed the end of a roll of toilet paper and watched the
spool unwind because it resembles a tornado to him, she said. Her grandson spent two hours with one end of a pair of leg irons around his leg and the other attached to his desk, she said. The safety officer, a member of the district’s police department who was not a certified peace officer, told Flisowski he turned to the irons after finding the child in a bathroom during class, she said.

Flisowski questioned what would have happened if there had been a
fire when her grandson was secured to his desk. “If that’s how they are keeping
an eye on him, I don’t think it will work,” she said.

Autism is a mental condition in which a person has difficulty with social relationships and communication and has limited imagination. In many cases, autism is completely debilitating. Flisowski said her grandson had a mild form of autism, was high-functioning, able to speak and is a good math student.

Christine Hopkins, a district spokeswoman, said the district acted after investigating the actions of the 10-year employee whom she would not

“It was discovered the officer’s conduct violated district policy so the officer was subsequently released,” she said.

Flisowski said she had not sent her grandson back to the school since the incident. She will meet with school administrators Monday to find out if they would be able to improve supervision of the boy. If they could not, she would send him to another public school or a private school, she said. The shackling came three weeks after her grandson was disciplined for switching on what was described as a hot plate in a closet near science classrooms at Austin, Flisowski said.

The boy said he was mesmerized by the glow from the heating element, she said. “He does not realize what he’s doing,” Flisowski said. “He was just looking at a red light to him. He has no fear. He does not understand danger.”

She said she did not learn about the incident and his three-day detention until the next day when the city fire marshal appeared at her home and said her grandson would be jailed if it happened again. Flisowski said she planned to meet with an attorney to talk about options for compelling the district to improve its supervision autistic students.

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