MANTECA — The family of a girl with disabilities has filed a claim after they say she and her wheelchair fell down some steps after being left unattended by her guardian.
“At first I was shocked that they actually left her like that, and then I just broke down in tears,” the girl’s mother, Veronica Villalobos, said.
Twelve-year-old Priscilla Villalobos is blind, nonverbal and has cerebral palsy and other conditions.
Surveillance video from Priscilla’s school, Stella Brockman Elementary, shows her guardian stops wheeling her and goes inside for a moment. While Priscilla’s guardian is inside, her chair begins to move and she falls onto her face.
Priscilla’s father, Carlos, says he can’t bring himself to watch the video.
“I know it’s going to make me even more enraged,” he said.
The incident happened in May, but since then the family has hired an attorney who has filed a claim for damages.
“She doesn’t have an ability to speak, but that’s really what this is about is having her voice heard and we feel like the facts and evidence including the video will show that,” attorney Paul Hoybjerg said.
Hoybjerg says the claim, filed against the Manteca Unified School District and the San Joaquin County Board of Education, will help them find out who exactly is responsible for Priscilla’s alleged neglect.
“Although the student involved is not enrolled in the District, and the staff involved is not a District employee, this matter is still of concern to us,” the district said in a statement sent to FOX40.
The Board of Education says it’s investigating the incident:
“This was an accident that should not have occurred. Our hearts go out to the Villalobos family. Any time a student is injured is a cause of concern to us, and we take this matter very seriously.”
The Board of Education’s statement also says it disagrees with some of the attorney’s claims, adding they were unable to provide further information because of the pending litigation.
Priscilla’s parents say their daughter has suffered seizures more often since the incident, noting she was visibly shaken when told she would be going back to school, even though it was a different school.
Her mother says she wants answers and justice, a non-stop attitude she recommends for any parent in a similar situation.
“Just for parents to not give up and keep pursuing it,” she said. “Do the right thing for their child who has no voice and just keep going until you get the answers.”