Our kids are supposed to be safe at school right? YIKES this is scary!
Suit says teacher tried to sicken allergic boy
Educator at RISE didn't want to take student with autism on field trip to zoo, reports say:
The mother of a 7-year-old boy with autism and a severe peanut allergy claims in a new lawsuit that a teacher didn't want her son to go on a class trip to the zoo. So, the suit contends, she tossed him a Mr. Goodbar -- chock full of peanuts.
"Maybe he could get sick enough not to attend and we won't have to deal with it," the teacher told a classroom aide, according to court and state documents.
The boy didn't eat the candy bar. The teacher, Trinda Barocas, has denied doing anything to prevent the child from attending the trip or harming any children. She has since resigned from the school, RISE Learning Center in Indianapolis.
The Mr. Goodbar allegation came to light when school officials called in state child welfare investigators after teacher's aides alerted them about concerns that the teacher was abusive.
Child Protective Services substantiated the claims, according to the agency's report.
The child's mother, Anita Young, became aware of what happened when the principal at RISE called her.
In addition to the suit against the district, Young wants criminal charges filed against Barocas.
"Every day I would send my son to school believing he was safe in school, a public school," Young said. "I was betrayed. . . . Now I'm left to clean up the damage."
CPS substantiated the claims of abuse in April. At this point, prosecutors have not charged Barocas with a crime. A spokesman for Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi did not return a phone call for comment.
In her interview with CPS, Barocas said she had not wanted the boy to go on the field trip because he would act out, but she said she didn't do anything to stop him from coming.
The state report says teacher's aides also described Barocas as dragging Young's son and another student across the floor by their arms, pushing them, pinching Young's son and flicking the other student on her lips.
But the most jarring account is from early in the 2008-09 school year -- on the day of the field trip to the Indianapolis Zoo.
Teacher's aide David "Bo" Holder told investigators that on that day, Barocas said, "I wonder what would happen if (the boy) had peanuts? I could touch it, and then touch him."
Another aide, Heather Schroeder, told state investigators Barocas had given the boy the Mr. Goodbar.
Holder told the state he didn't see Barocas toss the boy the candy bar, but he said he heard her say she had given him peanuts.
Young suspects the reason the boy didn't eat the candy bar is because, like many children with autism, he won't eat foods he's unfamiliar with -- and he had never seen a candy bar in a yellow wrapper.
Young discovered the peanut allergy when her son was a small boy and he swelled up after touching his father's peanut butter sandwich. Doctors have warned Young and her husband that the boy will asphyxiate within minutes if he eats peanuts and isn't immediately treated.
The school was aware of the boy's allergies, and a large sign on the classroom door warned that peanuts were not allowed in the room. Young also had talked to the teacher about the peanut allergy.
"I think she's sadistic," Young said. "I think there's something wrong with her mind. She shouldn't teach. She shouldn't be allowed around kids."
Barocas' attorneys did not respond to calls seeking comment Thursday, but according to the CPS report, the teacher told the agency "she did not want (the boy) to attend the field trip to the Indianapolis Zoo because of his behavior. She stated that he did go and did many things that he was not allowed to do. Trinda compared (the boy) to an 18-month-old child several times. Trinda denied that she did anything or said anything to stop (the boy) from coming on the field trip."
She also told state investigators and attorneys she had not abused children in the other incidents, although she acknowledged occasionally making light physical contact, such as tapping, when correcting their behavior.
Perry Township Schools Superintendent Thomas Little said the district, which administers RISE, reported the accusations to CPS as soon as it was aware of them.
Before the accusations came to light in March, the district had moved to fire Barocas for poor performance, Little said. She instead turned in her resignation to be effective at the end of the school year.
But when the aides reported what they had seen, Barocas was placed on administrative leave and never returned to the classroom. She left the district at the end of the year.
"Based on our review of our facts to date, the district did everything they could," said David Day, an attorney for the district. "They addressed it as soon as they found out about it."
State teacher licensing officials have been working with CPS and the prosecutor's office to monitor the case, state Department of Education spokesman Cam Savage said. If wrongdoing is confirmed, Barocas could lose her teaching license.
Barocas also was placed on administrative leave in 2007 when she worked in Franklin Community Schools. At that time, a nurse told a child's mother that she had seen Barocas force-feeding the girl, slapping her and improperly restraining her.
The Sheriff's Department and school district cleared Barocas in that case. She told a Star reporter at that time, "I did not, will not and would not hurt a child in my care."