Special needs student speaks out about being physically restrained at school

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An Oakland boy is hoping his bad experience at an East Bay school for special needs students will help other kids. The U.S. Department of Education found Stuart Candell was the victim of discrimination because he was physically restrained nearly 100 times -- in just one school year. (KGO-TV)

An Oakland boy is hoping his bad experience at an East Bay school for special needs students will help other kids. The U.S. Department of Education found Stuart Candell was the victim of discrimination because he was physically restrained nearly 100 times -- in just one school year.

The school at the center of this case is in Concord. Ultimately an agency found that it was the Oakland school district because they placed the boy there that was responsible for what happened to him.

"They were using it as a means of time out or something," Candell said.

Candell is 12 now, but remembers well what happened three years ago when he was a student at Concord's Anova Center for Education. "They took me out of the classroom into a restrain room and held me down there," he recalled. "It was two, three or four, depending," he said.

Candell has autism and when he was 9-years-old, he was placed at Anova by the Oakland Unified School District. During 11 months at the school for high-functioning children with autism, he was physically restrained, often held face-down on the floor 92 times, for up to 90 minutes at a time.

"We did come back to them several times and say, 'He's telling us it hurts,'" Stuart's mom, Bonnie Candell told ABC7 News. She said she was deeply bothered by what was happening but at the time, she put her trust in the Anova staff.

"When I first went to the school, they presented themselves as experts," she said. "And so, I trusted them, because at some point you have to do that. You have to trust someone else."

Now, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has ruled that OUSD discriminated against Stuart and ordered the district to sever all ties with schools that use certain restraint practices.

In a statement, a spokesperson told ABC7, "OUSD is actively complying with the terms of the resolution, which OUSD and OCR believe will positively impact OUSD's students with special needs who are placed in non-public schools."

Stuart is now attending a school in Hayward where physical restraint is rarely used.
Related Topics:
educationautismschoolabuseConcord
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