Connecticut Family of Autistic Boy Sues Teacher Michelle Campbell for Abusing Special Needs Students


Who is looking out after the children?

There may be only one thing more despicable than a teacher abusing a student, that is a teacher Child_abuse_drawingabusing a special needs and autistic child. In Connecticut parents of an autistic special needs student are suing Michelle Campbell of Rocky Hill as well as members of the school board, the school superintendent and the principal of Chamberlain Elementary School for abuse and unreasonable force.

According to the lawsuit, a 6–7 year old autistic child was abused during the 2007–2008 school year in which “Campbell yelled at the boy, crossed his arms tightly around his neck, which prevented him from breathing, and slapped him.”

Prosecutors allege Campbell slapped a child and splashed water in another student’s face. She pleaded not guilty last fall to cruelty and risk of injury charges. She is due back in court next month.

The parents who filed the lawsuit are seeking class-action status and their lawyer says there may be a large number of victims.

The lawsuit accuses Campbell of using unreasonable force, unlawful restraint and physical, psychological and emotional abuse against students dating back to 1999.

Michelle Campbell was arrested in October 2008 on three counts of risk of injury to a minor and four counts of cruelty to persons. However, what makes this case even worse, the teacher was allowed to continue to teach in a classroom with special needs students even after the arrestes.

The incident for which Campbell was arrested involved a special education class with about 10 children in kindergarten through second grade. The lawsuit lists just one plaintiff, who is identified as John Doe, but says there are potentially hundreds of students who may have been victimized by Campbell during the past 10 years.

According to the lawsuit, Doe, who is autistic, was 6 or 7 when the alleged abuse occurred during the 2007-2008 school year. The suit claims that Campbell yelled at the boy, crossed his arms tightly around his neck, which prevented him from breathing, and slapped him.

Another parent of an autistic child learned of the allegations and that Campbell was still working at a school, she brought the incidents to the attention of police.

In December, Campbell was barred from having unsupervised contact with children in the classroom and with any of the alleged victims and must tell any prospective school employer that she has felony charges pending.

Kurtz said at the time that the school district had already imposed restrictions on Campbell by having her in a classroom with another certified teacher.

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  • Comments

    4 Responses to “Connecticut Family of Autistic Boy Sues Teacher Michelle Campbell for Abusing Special Needs Students”

    1. Scared Monkeys on May 31st, 2009 9:31 am

      There is a special place in Hell for people who do stuff like this.


    2. Michelle Smith on May 31st, 2009 10:34 am

      @#1 You’ve got that right Red

    3. Patti on May 31st, 2009 1:51 pm

      I wish the family continued success in their efforts to attain justice and set a precedence that will hold people like this responsible for their actions. Hopefully, we can keep teachers like this out of our schools… for good!

    4. Waterboy on May 31st, 2009 5:20 pm

      I’m certainly no expert, but when I was assistant scoutmaster, we had some boys with special needs, the most challenging of which was a 12-year-old autistic boy.

      The scoutmaster really encouraged it, and would bend over backwards to get minorities, and special needs kids into scouting.

      We wanted to see a black kid achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, but this never happen. We did however, have several Hispanic Eagle Scouts. We had and an extremely mentally handicapped boy who got to Life Scout.

      I told the mother of the autistic boy, that I would work with him as long as it took to learn scouting skills. I just didn’t know how difficult it would be. It took me about 12 hours of one on one to get him through the Scout Oath and Law.

      I ask my son to work with him, and my son became extremely frustrated after only a few minutes. We had a long talk later about the lessons I hoped he might learn. For one, I told him that someday, he would have children of his own, and he would have to learn to curb those feelings of frustration, and be kind regardless of how hard or difficult it became. I really think he learned from it, because he was always quick to defend the boy against the insults of some of the other scouts.

      We took the boy on at least 4 camp outs. It seemed easier for him to learn, when we were on a camp out. With the help of several older scouts, we were able to insulate him from harm and insult.

      I wish I had had more time to work with the boy, but the kids at school started to really picking on him, and he would pull his own hair out and eat it. I had a talk with one of his tormenters, but the kid was hopeless. I talked with his dad, and I begin to understand why.

      The mother of the autistic boy institutionalised him, and he never returned to scouting. I kept up with him for a few years, but I don’t know where he is today. His mother re-married and moved away. Sad.


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