A special needs student might finally be treated fairly after enduring years of alleged abuse. Rosa Smith has cerebral palsy and was allegedly punished for it by educators at her specials needs school in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Help. She won’t be quiet!!!!” a High Point School teacher wrote in a text message she sent to Rosa’s mom, Doreen Smith, in March 2016.
The text also contained a terrifying photo of Rosa with her mouth covered in various pieces of tape, the Washington Post reported. You can tell by Rosa’s eyes that she’s very scared, which makes sense since she breathes almost entirely through her mouth.
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder that affects a person’s movement, posture, muscle tone, or all three. For Rosa, who is now 27, her cerebral palsy has made her wheelchair-bound and entirely reliant on others for all activities.
She’s also nonverbal, which meant she couldn’t easily communicate to her family how much abuse she endured at school.
In addition to having her mouth taped shut, Rosa was allegedly locked in a school bathroom for hours. On various occasions, Rosa came home with burns, bloodied scabs, and bruises, which the school blamed on her despite Rosa’s inability to physically harm herself.
“They blamed Rosa for scalding hot coffee being poured on her. They blamed Rosa for coming home with bruises on her. They even blamed Rosa for being too loud, and that’s why they had to gag and bound her,” explained Smith’s attorney, Jonathan Marko.
The family filed a 25-page lawsuit against Washtenaw Intermediate School District, and educators from the school including one of Rosa’s teachers, Nesa Johnson; the school’s principal at the time, Anne Nakon; and two teacher’s aides.