Managing Editor's Note: The law suit below stems from the assault(s) against my youngest daughter Isabella on the special ed bus in 2010. Her case elicited concern and kindness from all of the autism community - I appreciated and was encouraged by the unity and support. That photo is from 2006, and is one of my favorites. (We were on a trampoline, not auditioning for a Breck commercial.) Our children with autism are not acceptable targets for bullies and abusers. None of them. Whether born with autism, regressed into autism, 3 years old, 43 years old. NONE OF THEM. The timing of this lawsuit, just before Good Friday and Passover, while unintentional, is appropriate, I think. The press release from our attorney follows below. Thanks, everyone. Kim
Attorney Michael T. Meehan of Meehan, Meehan and Gavin, LLP has commenced a civil action against First Student, Inc. on behalf of Isabella Stagliano, a minor child with severe autism. The lawsuit stems from a series of acts of physical abuse committed by Jennifer Davila, who was employed by First Student Inc. as an "aid" for special needs students traveling on a First Student, Inc. school bus. The minor child was a nine year old special needs student diagnosed with autism. She was not able to speak. First Student, Inc. contracted with the Trumbull Board of Education to provide transportation for all students, including special needs students enrolled in the Trumbull school system. Additionally, the operator of the First Student school bus at the time of these incidents was Evelyn Guzman; the mother of Jennifer Davila. and Guzman was arrested and charged with the felony offense of risk of injury to a minor for texting and driving said school bus. Guzman is currently on probation.
As a result of the acts of physical abuse, Jennifer Davila was arrested and convicted for her conduct. First Student, Inc has been named in the lawsuit for failure to properly train, supervise, inspect, or investigate its employees for unreasonable risk of harm to the minor child. As a direct result of the conduct of First Student, Inc. and its employees the minor child suffered permanent personal injuries and damages. In particular, the conduct of First Student, Inc.'s employee has had an emotional and educational impact on the minor child.
April is autism awareness month. According to National Autism Association, "Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social impairments, cognitive impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. It can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups."
Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years."
This lawsuit is brought on behalf of this minor child as a voiceless victim and all the other special needs children who may become victims of physical and emotional abuse as a result of of their disability. ###