The mother of a 16-year-old boy with special needs who died after being physically and forcibly restrained by school staff has filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the school.
ABC News reports that Sheila Foster, the mother of the young boy, said:
“Losing Corey has been a painful and tragic occurrence. It’s emotionally stressful. I took this course of action to hold Leake Watts school accountable and to help change laws on restraint and seclusion in schools.”
“I just don’t want this to happen to another child,” Foster continued.
The lawsuit was filed in New York City. The lawsuit states that Leake Watts School in Yonkers, New York and four specific staff members used “physical force” on Corey Foster, “which resulted in pain, suffering, choking, pre-death terror, and ultimately the death” of the Corey.
Last month, ABC News publicly aired surveillance footage that showed Corey playing basketball in the school gym alongside other students and staff members on April 18, 2012.
Minutes later, Corey was surrounded by the school’s staff in a corner of the gym. In the video, it appears that he is pushed against the wall and then restrained face-down by four staff members. He was removed from the gym on a stretcher almost 45 minutes later.
Jacob Oresky, the Foster family’s lawyer, said:
“They circled him like thugs or a gang. The staff members at Leake Watts exercised a lot of force on Corey Foster and they killed him.”
Oresky has also stated that Leake Watts have yet to issue an apology or acknowledge any fault for Corey’s death.
Oresky wouldn’t state the exact amount that the family is seeking but said “we anticipate this will be a multi-million-dollar lawsuit.”
Oresky then went on to say:
“Schools and educational facilities need to understand that they are trusted with our children and they should exercise the highest possible degree of care in safeguarding their well being. In this case Leake Watts failed to do so and we don’t want to see any other children at their facility or anywhere else injured or hurt due to carelessness.”
Corey’s autopsy ruled his death an accident. The autopsy report said that he suffered “cardiac arrest during an excited state while being subdued.”
In an email statement to ABC News, Meredith Barber, director of institutional advancement at Leake Watts, said:
“The consistent findings of extensive third party independent reviews by the police, the District Attorney’s office, the medical examiner and state officials support Leake Watts’ own internal review, which determined that on the night of April 18th staff followed appropriate therapeutic practices designed to support the young people in our care. Corey Foster’s death was a tragedy.”
Barber then continued saying:
“In regard to the lawsuit, we look forward to addressing its claims in court. Meanwhile, we remain focused on serving children, adults and families with a wide range of needs and look towards doing all that we can in the service of others.”
Sheila Foster has joined forces with parents around the country whose children have been killed or injured as a result of being physically restrained or put into seclusion rooms at school.
Foster said she grieves the loss of her son every day and is determined to help make a difference regarding restraints and seclusions in schools. She said:
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster but I’m willing to ride it out until I see justice for Corey. I’m not stopping.”
Foster continued by sadly saying:
“I know I won’t feel him hug me anymore, or say, ‘I love you, mommy.’ And this shouldn’t happen anymore to another child, to another family. Someone powerful has to step in and say this isn’t right.”
Here is the video of Sheila Foster’s interview, courtesy of ABC News.