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Portland, OR: Elem school children assaulting teachers results in $900K lawsuit

Nov 2, 2018, Oregonian: PORTLAND NEWS Grade-schoolers grabbed breasts of Portland school workers, lawsuit says Two employees who were assigned to assist special needs students in the classroom have filed a $900,000 lawsuit against Portland Public Schools, claiming the district ignored their pleas for help as violent students repeatedly grabbed their breasts, shoved their hands down the women’s pants and otherwise assaulted them. Joyce Moore and Virginia Ferrer-Burgett worked as paraeducators for some of the district’s youngest students -- pupils at Woodlawn Elementary School who had a range of disabilities, according to their lawsuit filed Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The abuse was so bad that when the district’s senior director of student services at the time, Mary Pearson, and special education administrator, Linda Moon, visited the school, the students also grabbed their breasts, the lawsuit says. … Rebecca Cambreleng, a Portland attorney representing the women, said though their lawsuit describes the behavior as sexual assault, she doesn’t think the children had sexual motivations. Rather, it was their way of expressing frustration or trying to get the attention of the paraeducators, Cambreleng said. In addition to the inappropriate touching, the suit says, students also choked, bit, kicked, punched, head-butted and urinated on Moore and Ferrer-Burgett. Students threw furniture at them, and Moore suffered at least one broken toe after one student stamped on her foot, according to the lawsuit and Cambreleng. … … The women fault the district for allegedly failing to place the students in settings where their behavior could be properly addressed by staff members with additional training, she said. The lawsuit describes classroom instruction grinding to a halt when a student acted up. “Several times a week the (Communication Behavior) Classroom would have to be cleared and all education in that room interrupted because a student was having a dangerous behavioral episode and threatening themselves, other students, and the educators,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit says paraeducators at the school had to chase after special needs students who bolted from the classroom and tried to leave the school on a "regular basis." Moore says she tore her shoulder while stopping a student before the student tried to jump from the top of a staircase down onto a landing in an attempt to escape. …


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