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Age of Autism Comment of the Week: 1/16

Why Would a Principal Call the Police to Arrest a Special Needs 11 Year Old?

Zakh By Kim Stagliano

Why would an elementary school Principal call the police to intervene in the case of a special needs 11 year old boy who was having behavior problems in school? Why would the police then charge the boy with second degree battery? (See the arrest report, HERE.) Reading, writing and arresting?

I have been in contact with the grandmother of Zakhery Price, of Fort Smith Arkansas.  She explains that Zakhery has a host of diagnoses and that schooling him has been fraught with difficulty for some time. She, his mother and step-father are trying to ensure that the child receives a proper education. We, as parents of children on the spectrum, know all too well that sometimes families and schools are at loggerheads.

Schools districts are groaning under the weight of an influx of students with myriad diagnoses, inlcuding autism, bi-polar disorder, reactive detachment disorder and other often severe mental health issues. It's still difficult to understand how a Principal could call the police on an eleven year old child unless the child was brandishing a weapon, which Zakh was not. We live in a time when our children are subject to restraint and seclusion at an alarming rate. Teachers, adminstrators, paraprofessionals are often poorly trained and ill prepared to work with special needs children. And yes, some students cases are simply too severely affected for a public school to handle. In such cases, the school must work with the family to find an appropriate placement.

We're sharing Zakh Price's case with you, our readers, to continue to sound the alarm that epidemic of children with an alphabet soup of diagnoses is real. When Zakh Price is 21, how will he be treated? And doesn't he deserve better treatment right now?

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism and mother of three daughters with autism. Her Kimoir, All I Can Handle. I'm No Mother Teresa debuts this Fall.



My autistic daughter has been arrested 2 times at school. Both times no one was hurt and the behavior would not have happened if the BIP was followed. The second time they charged her with a felony. It isn't about misunderstandings it is about getting rid of our kids that they don't want to educate. It is far easier and cheaper to arrest them. I have found many other parents who have experienced this.

moon batchelder

my son is high functioning, can communicate but is on the autism spectrum. i thank my lucky stars every day that my life is such that i can teach him at home!...there are myriad stories all around the country that speak to a need to re-educate the educators and administrators of our public schools!
don't know if private schools do any better, but the public school system doesn't have to worry about profit...maybe that makes a difference.
it just doesnt make sense that our children, especially our special needs children, can be treated in ways that would be considered criminal if the persons at the other end of the treatment were adults!

Dr. Stephen C. L'Hommedieu

"Schools districts are groaning under the weight of an influx of students with myriad diagnoses, inlcuding autism, bi-polar disorder, reactive detachment disorder and other often severe mental health issues."

I don't understand why there is such a problem with these children. They just have a "better diagnosis."


Oh my! My son is only a few weeks older. He is ADHD and Aspergers. About thta same time period, he also became fustrated in class and overreacted. At some point, a bench was shoved against the wall hard. He says he was sitting on it and when stood up, he was angry, stood up very quickly, shoving the bench against the wall with the back of his legs. The school district police were called.

Fortunately, we have a reasonable principal and I have a fairly good relationship with her, so she declined to press any charges. I had told her we were treating for intestinal bacteria and he had prior bad reactions to the meds. I always tell the school when I think anything may cause a problem.

It sounds to me as if the teachers and principal should have cleared the room until the police came, then only property may have been damaged. They made the situation much worse and should be held responsible. When our children get into these rages/fustrations, they cannot control themselves. Attempted physical intervention only enrages them more. I know my son was very embarrassed and apalled by his own actions that day, as I am sure Zak is. They do not do it on purpose.


Carole Reynolds-- I'm so sorry your family and Zakh are going through this. I attempted to cover the issue of abuse in schools last fall for AOA. Part 1 contains links to activist organizations (you might already have been contacted by some) and other material which I hope could be of help. The scope is huge, the problem is growing and I'm afraid I couldn't help but leave important things out, but some commenters add in missing pieces.
My husband and I just received some frightening information about a few autism schools where many local children are sent for private placement-- places where our own children could have been sent had we not known better. We only got these warnings because, after three years of involvement in the autism/vaccine-injury realm, we've met families who tell us their stories first hand. So much of it is word of mouth because of how schools attempt to silence families- but the internet can make word of mouth very powerful. Bless you for standing up for your loved one.

Part 1: http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/08/the-angel-in-the-engine-reports-of-restraint-seclusion-and-special-treatment-in-special-ed-.html

Part 2:


Thank you, Kim. I agree that schools are overwhelmed. The DOE is hanging schools and children out to dry in the midst of an epidemic. You have to wonder what kind of culture this creates in schools-- what caliber of person is going to stick around to watch disabled children remain grossly underserved? The best of the best and the most dedicated? Sometimes, but sometimes not.

I assume they've been restraining the boy repeatedly and I'm sure his behavior has grown worse as a result. It's possible that the situation was engineered in a sense (even subconsciously) because the school wants the child institutionalized and out of their hair-- but without marks against the school for putting him into expensive private placement (which the district has to pay for and the board might not appreciate).

Check who pays if Zakh is institutionalized. If this route lets schools off the hook because an outside agency has to pick up the tab, that would probably partly explain why these arrests are happening.

Of course it all happens in the first place because schools don't want to or can't keep an BCBA on staff and provide the necessary services to prevent the behavior in the first place. Instead they pressure families to drug their kids (which only results in more violent behavior for many in the long run).

You look at what's happening and it's amazing to me how the Chicago Tribune and other publications characterize biomed as "dangerous". If schools supported biomed officially, there would be a lot fewer children melting down. The most dangerous places for our kids to be these days are in mainstream pediatricians' office...or in school.

Carole Reynolds

Hello everyone!
Thanks for your encouraging words. Have you been to his facebook page? Please come and add your voice.
Kim this is an awesome piece and I hope we become friends. Don't forget to send me the info you said you would.
I called Channel 5 tonight and they said they did NOT run anything on Zakh. When asked if they were planning to or not, they said No...because their are so many angles and sides they won't use it!
Good ol boy owns the stations and newspapers too.

Deb O.

So the boy was upset because the teacher erased the spelling words? I wonder what her response to him was. "Too bad Zak, you should have written those down faster."

Often the attitude of the teacher just prior to the outburst is the key.

Maurine Meleck

Exactly the reason why I'm terrified for Joshua to enter Middle School in August.

Keeping Zakh's Interest at Heart

Darren Bob at KFSM Fort Smith did an excellent piece on Zakh but the story has since been taken down off the site. Perhaps they feel it is "old news".

People looking to get the story up again should go to the KFSM website...


and e-mail: news@kfsm.com

Darren Bob surely has all sorts of information on Zakh the case that can be used to accelerate the campaign. Write now for the re-post of the original report.

Perhaps A o A could inquire into the reasons why the report was taken down and report their findings.


An 11 year old diagnosed with autism in West Virginia got upset and took his pants off in class, while attempting to restrain him the teacher is alleged to have pushed the boy's head into a wall. The teacher was arrested yesterday.


In Arkansas teachers attempt to restrain an 11 year old boy and the boy is the one charged even though the arrest report shows the boy received a skinned knee. There were NO visible marks of injury on any of the complainants.

According to Arkansas law the person causing the skinned knee should also be charged with 2nd Degree Battery;

§ 5-13-202. Battery in the second degree.

(a) A person commits battery in the second degree if:

(1) With the purpose of causing physical injury to another person, he causes serious physical injury to any person;

(2) With the purpose of causing physical injury to another person, he causes physical injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon other than a firearm;

(3) He recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or

****(4) He intentionally or knowingly, without legal justification, causes physical injury to one he knows to be:*****

(A) A law enforcement officer, fire fighter, or employee of a correctional facility while such officer, fire fighter, or correctional facility employee is acting in the line of duty;

****(B) A teacher or other school employee, while acting in the course of employment;*****

(C) An individual sixty (60) years of age or older or twelve (12) years of age or younger;

(D) An officer or employee of the state while the officer or employee is acting in the performance of his lawful duty;

(E) A physician, a person certified as an emergency medical technician, as defined in § 20-13-202, a licensed or certified health care professional or any other health care provider, while performing medical treatment, emergency medical services or while in the course of other employment relating to his or her medical training; or

*****(F) An individual who is incompetent, as defined by § 5-25-101(3).******

(b) Battery in the second degree is a Class D felony.

History. Acts 1975, No. 280, § 1602; 1981, No. 877, § 1; 1983, No. 12, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 41-1602; Acts 1995, No. 1173, § 1; 1995, No. 1305, § 2; 1995, No. 1338, § 1; 1997, No. 207, § 1; 1997, No. 878, § 1; 1999, No. 389, § 1.

Whether or not this child Zak is competent enough to understand the difference between attempting to free himself from restraint, or to understand why he is being restrained and striking a teacher to intentionally inflict pain will have to be determined. HOWEVER everyone of these women who claimed they were criminally assaulted KNEW Zak and KNEW he has problems, knew that those problems made him incompetent in that particular setting.

I say call for the arrest of the teachers and principle, let the court decide.

Autism Dad in Pa

I wonder if they were successful in getting the child to hold the numbers placard while they took a mugshot of him standing sideways.

Also, if he has tactile oversensitivities, did more than 2 adults have to hold him in order to get finger prints? Hope they didn't use a tazer.

It is the principal that should have been taken away by the police, for the over reaction that he did.

Phyllis M.

Thank you for the great article Kim.

Restraint, seclusion and arrest is becoming a normal procedure to use on our children and it must stop.

Parents please get involved by calling your legislators and ask them to support Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247/S.2860). This bill is not perfect but it is a start.

Maria Alvarez

I want to send a lot of positive energy to the family of Zakh because I truly hope that after the initial shock, they get an excellent lawyer from our autism community and go after such inappropriate behavior on the part of the school. Shame on them!


dan olmsted

It is a bit weird to read about a suspect who's four foot seven, weighs 83 pounds, has a skinned knee and "no cash." Sounds like a child to me!

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