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Indiana: State Appeals Court says violent student can be charged; IEP isn't excuse

June 28, 2019, Terre Haute (IN) Tribune Star: Court: Terms of special education plan don't excuse crime Although a high school student had a special education plan, it doesn't excuse him when he commits what is considered a crime, the Indiana Court of Appeals said Thursday. A 16-year-old sophomore at Avon High School had been found to have committed disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement when he fought with two officers in May 2018. The youth, who is not identified by name in court documents, had an individualized education plan (IEP) after being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. On May 3, the youth argued with his girlfriend after she broke up with him during the lunch period. Avon Police Lt. David Margason approached the youth who threw his sweatshirt on the ground, yelled obscenities and stormed away. Officer Jacob Boggess approached and gave verbal commands for the youth to stop. Boggess grabbed the boy's wrist and the youth pushed him away. The two then began to fight as the youth continued to resist the officer, according to documents. The officers, who were working off-duty security, managed to place handcuffs on the youth and take him to the school office where he continued to scream obscenities. Both officers were injured in the incident. In the office, the youth said he wanted to see his special education teacher which he had been instructed to do when he felt overwhelmed. The instruction is part of his IEP. Later, a Hendricks County juvenile court found he had committed disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement. Although the state wanted the youth placed on probation, the court issued no penalty. The youth's lawyer asserted that the officers failed to follow IEP protocol. However, the state appellate court said the youth's lawyer did not cite legal authority where an IEP would serve as a legal excuse for committing an otherwise criminal offense. "Neither the mere existence of an IEP nor an official’s alleged failure to follow the outlined protocol would constitute a legal defense for criminal conduct," Judge Terry Crone wrote in the court's opinion. He added, "We understand that (the youth) believes that the Avon Community School Corporation failed him in this instance, and we do not disagree with his general statement that public school systems should 'take steps to train their school resource officers on the appropriate way to respond to children with emotional disabilities.' "Nevertheless, an appeal of the current juvenile delinquency adjudication is not the proper forum to address these concerns. Sufficient evidence supports the juvenile court’s true findings, and therefore we affirm the court’s delinquency adjudication," the judge wrote.


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