Lawsuits claim special ed mistreatment at Livonia school

Families claim special education students were slapped by teacher at Livonia's Webster Elementary

LIVONIA, Mich. - A growing number of parents of special education students at one Livonia school are joining in lawsuits claiming their children were mistreated in class.

William Seikaly is an attorney working on the lawsuits. He said the tragedy is that at least a dozen staffers at Webster Elementary knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

 "This is a parent's worst nightmare. The fact that the place where they expect their child to be the most safe is physically abusing the children," Seikaly said.

 Lawsuits are being filed against a pre-school teacher and the Livonia school district, alleging children were slapped, force-fed their food and, in one case, a child in a wheelchair was locked in a bathroom for 20 minutes as a time out.

Read more: Teacher fired; accused of mistreating special-ed students

Jim Davenport's daughter is a student at the school. He has joined in the lawsuits.

"After I found out that this happened, I got right down on my knees in front of her and I promised her I will find a way to make this up to you, Davenport said.

The teacher at the focus of the allegations is on paid leave until her resignation takes effect next March.

That fact outrages attorney Jim Spagnuolo.

"I think it sends a horrendous message to the families involved.  These families' children were physically and emotionally abused while in the care of the district and the perpetrator of that is now sitting home collecting a paycheck," Spagnuolo said.

The school responded to the allegations by calling them upsetting and pointing out that the teacher involved has resigned.

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