A 12-year-old Florida boy has been hospitalized with serious head injuries after he was body-slammed by a school employee and then denied immediate medical care, authorities said.
The child was reportedly being disciplined for cutting into a lunch line at AMIkids in Pinellas Park, a school for at-risk youth, when he was violently thrown to the ground by the employee on Feb. 11, Tampa Bay Times reported, citing police.
The employee “outweighed him 3 to 1,” Pinellas Park Police Capt. Adam Geissenberger told HuffPost.
According to the Times story, police said the child began to cry, vomit and lose consciousness but was not provided medical care. Instead, a behavioral interventionist accompanied him home on a school bus, while offering the child a garbage can in which to throw up. Upon arriving at the boy’s home, the interventionist did not inform the boy’s mother about what happened, the Times reported, again citing police.
The boy’s mother kept him home from school the next day, thinking he had the flu. When he didn’t improve, she took him to a local children’s hospital the following day and doctors discovered he had a fractured skull, two subdural hematomas and bleeding in the brain. The injuries are believed to have been sustained in the school incident, police told the Times.
The child remained hospitalized as of Wednesday, Geissenberger said.
School supervisor Jarvon Delon West, 28, was arrested on Monday for failing to report child neglect and for neglect of a child resulting in great bodily harm.
The employee alleged to have physically harmed the child has yet to be located for arrest, police said Wednesday. In the arrest warrant for West, he was identified as Dontae Thomas, 34, according to the Times.
“We are absolutely 100% putting our best foot forward to locate [the suspect,]” Geissenberger said.
Joseph Gallina, a spokesperson for AMIkids Inc., said those involved in the incident has been suspended and an internal investigation into what happened is underway.
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the young man and his family during his time of recovery,” the school said in a statement. “AMIkids Pinellas does not tolerate any behaviors that could cause harm to our students, as our top priority is the safety of our kids, our team and this community.”
The school’s students consist of boys and girls, around middle-school age, who have committed a variety of non-violent offenses, according to its website.
All of the school’s employees have undergone background checks and received training in verbal and physical intervention techniques, according to a school spokesperson. These techniques, authorized by Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice, are used “to control behaviors that create an emergency or crisis situation,” according to the non-profit Disability Rights Florida.
“They are trained in techniques that are safe on the youth when safely executed,” Gallina said.
Thomas and West have been employed at the school since 2018. There had been no prior instances involving either of them, the school spokesperson said.
According to the Times, AMIKids has been involved in 34 federal lawsuits. Past incidents have included allegations of assault by a staff member. In 2017, a mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Department of Juvenile Justice and AMIkids after her 16-year-old died at a wilderness camp in South Carolina.