Guiding Hands School to Close Down Friday

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EL DORADO HILLS — Following the death of one of its students, a specialty school in El Dorado Hills will be closing its doors Friday.

An attorney for Guiding Hands School Inc. released a statement on the closure Monday.

“Though GHS categorically denies the allegations asserted by the CDE in its premature Notice of Revocation, the decision to surrender our certification is in the best interest of and for the benefit of our students, their parents, and our staff,” the statement read in part.

Max Benson (Courtesy: Attorney Seth L. Goldstein)

Guiding Hands student Max Benson died in November after he was held down by school staff for an hour and 45 minutes, according to his family’s attorney. The 13-year-old asphyxiated.

In response, the California Department of Education launched an investigation then revoked the school’s certification in early January. The CDE said school staff violated certain rules during the incident involving the 13-year-old, who had autism.

“This commendation by the CDE specifically recognized the occasional necessary use of physical restraint in exceptional circumstances to protect students and staff,” Guiding Hands’ statement said. “GHS used a nationally recognized and CDE-approved behavioral management program, Handle with Care.”

Some parents reacted to the news of Benson’s death by reaching out to the state and demanding Guiding Hands, which has been in operation for 25 years, be shut down. Others kept their children enrolled at the school during the weeks of uncertainty regarding its fate.

The El Dorado Hills facility will remain open and another nonpublic school will take Guiding Hand’s place. The statement claims that will allow former staff to be rehired and students to return to the same location.

Guiding Hands’ statement can be read in full below:

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