A civil suit filed in Howell County is moving to Springfield.
A West Plains family filed the suit in early September after employees at the Ozark Horizon State School were charged with the abuse or neglect of their 13-year-old non-verbal autistic child.
The attorney for the family says while the suit was filed in Howell County, he says those involved violated state and federal laws and if requested could have the case moved to federal court. That request was approved Wednesday.
“All students are allowed and guaranteed a right to education, and even the disabled have a right to the same level of protection and schooling that the non-disabled would have.” Attorney Dayrell Scrivner said.
Six teachers were fired after five were charged in August.
Court documents say the abuse of the child was caught on-camera multiple times inside the state-run school for disabled students in March of this year.
“I honestly don’t know how people could have witnessed this and not reported it,” Scrivner said. “There were a number of times where he was pinned down by the upper chest, neck, and back of his head. His head was pinned down to the desk and they would put weight on him to hold him down. His hair was pulled. And one of the things on tape was that one of the employees was pulling his hair while he was being held down and while he was squirming and in obvious pain. She said, ‘yeah, that hurts a little bit, doesn’t it?”
It was an anonymous tip that led police to discover the abuse.
“Anybody outside the school would not have known because, again, he can’t speak to this. He, you know, he really can’t communicate verbally the parents knew something was wrong.” Scrivner said.
The suit lists the former employees, supervisors, the school, the state Board of Education, the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as defendants.
The family’s attorney says the parents want to see change.
“Nowhere on these tapes does anybody stop these actions,” Scrivner said. “I know that we’re kind of going uphill against the state you know, there’s the state board of Education, is not it? I understand they have a lot of resources in these things, but I’m just hoping to get the attention out and get the school board to put that put those resources to protecting their kids.”
Court documents online do not have attorneys listed for the defendants.
KOLR10 reached out to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for comment, and they declined.