A teacher was rehired after she reportedly force-fed a special needs student crayons which were laced with hot sauce which, naturally, caused Lillian Gomez to be fired from her job at Sunrise Elementary School following the incident. However, a Florida judge ordered the district to reinstate her position.
In 2012, Gomez soaked crayons and Play-Doh in hot sauce for several days. She then placed the items into a bag labeled with a 5-year-old autistic child’s name. Gomez insists she was simply trying to deter the child from eating art supplies.
Although she was accused of force-feeding the crayons to the child, the accusation was not proven in the eyes of the court. The court’s decision hinged on whether the crayons were soaked in hot sauce as a form of punishment.
As reported by ABC News, the court eventually decided that the teacher’s actions were an inappropriate form of deterrence. However, there was no indication that her behavior was meant to punish the child. The judge ordered the district to reinstate Gomez’s position.
The Osceola County School District appealed the court’s decision, but they lost the appeal. School district spokeswoman Dana Schafer was disappointed with the court’s decision, saying:
“We lost the appeal, so by law we have to comply by the courts… We don’t want to come out and say anything bad about the teacher or say anything to worry parents.”
Although the teacher was rehired, school officials said she will not be welcomed back at the Sunrise Elementary School. She will work in another school, offering “support to other teachers” who work with special needs students.
Huffington Post reports that the autistic child’s father was outraged by the court’s decision. Jose Holguin said Gomez has already proven “that she’s a danger inside a classroom” and should not be allowed to interact with special needs children.
Although the teacher was rehired, the details of her reinstatement were not discussed.
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