ANTIOCH (KRON) — Special needs school Tobinworld and the Oakland unified school district have been hit with a lawsuit over the alleged abuse of a student, and it was caught on camera.
On Friday, KRON4’s Maureen Kelly talked to the victim’s attorneys about the change they hope will happen as a result of this legal action.
It is a video that is hard to watch.
A 9-year-old boy was seen in the video being slapped, roughed up, and taunted by a teacher’s aide.
The shocking images were captured in January inside Tobinworld, a non-public school for special needs students in Antioch.
Two aides were fired, and this June, they pleaded no contest to misdemeanor criminal charges. And they are both now on probation.
Tobinworld’s Antioch campuses are now closed, shutting down after the Antioch school district pulled their students. The district’s move, triggered by the state attorney general, launched an investigation into how disabled students were being treated at Tobinworld and other non-public schools like it.
The AG’s announcement was made soon after a KRON4 series of reports revealing more allegations of abuse.
Now, a lawsuit has been filed against Tobinworld. The attorney’s representing the boy and his guardian said he had been subjected to months of physical abuse leading up to the video.
“It’s not something that was the first time it happened. These were employees who felt free to engage in this kind of behavior, and they wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t think they could get away with it,” the victim’s attorney Todd Boley said.
The Oakland school district is also named in the lawsuit. The attorneys say the district failed the child by placing him at Tobinworld, saying there was plenty of evidence of other abuse allegations at the school.
They expect that school districts will keep a closer eye on non-public special education providers like Tobinworld as a result of their legal action.
“You can’t just give these children away and wash your hands of them and let them be abused somewhere,” the victim’s attorney Peter Alfert said.
The victim’s lawyers also hope to see better training of school staff to recognize and report abuse when they see or suspect it.
The grandmother of the boy in the video says her grandson is still having problems as a result of the abuse he suffered, saying his behaviors are worse and he has regressed with his education.
It’s still hard for him to understand that teachers at school are not there to hurt him, the grandmother said.
So far, Tobinworld has not responded to our request for comment, but in the past, they had called the abuse in the video an isolated incident.
The Oakland school district spokesperson said they have yet to be served with the lawsuit but are not surprised to hear there is a lawsuit in this case.