EL DORADO HILLS — The name of the teenage boy who died after being restrained at a specialty school in El Dorado Hills last month has been released.
The family of Max Benson chose to share photographs of the 13-year-old with FOX40 in order to show his sweet demeanor.
“When they were bringing the chaplains from class to class, instead of just letting the chaplains say, ‘We’re here for you,’ the staff also shared their message — ‘Just so you know, we didn’t kill anyone,'” said parent Melissa Lasater.
Lasater told FOX40 she’s appalled at how Guiding Hands School Inc. handled the death of one of their students.
“They held this child down, they had him not breathing,” Lasater said. “He went to the hospital and later died. That’s on the school.”
On Nov. 28, Benson died. His death was just days after he was restrained by a staff member on campus.
A California Department of Education report states the use of restraint was not in accordance with Benson’s behavior intervention plan.
Lasater said her 13-year-old son knew Benson but did not know he had passed away until news of his death was made public a week later.
“He immediately started to, like, cry and started to process like who’s been missing the last few days, who could it be,” Lasater said. “And then his face just dropped and he’s like, ‘Mom, mom, it was Max. They killed Max.’ And then he was petrified.”
Lasater said her son was also restrained at Guiding Hands and often came home with bruises.
“His whole forehead was completely cut from a rug burn,” Lasater said.
When Benson died Lasater immediately revoked her permission for the school to use any sort of force against her son.
“They had to send it back to me with a note that this permission was revoked,” she said.
But after thinking about it, she decided to pull her son from the school altogether.
“They’re all still there with the same staff, who are trained in the same techniques, who are going to use them the same way. They use them as punishment,” Lasater said.
Now, Lasater said she’s organizing protests in front of the Department of Education building, calling on the state to shut down the school. The state department has already put Guiding Hand’s license on suspension, meaning it can’t take any new students.
“They act like they did a real big thing by stopping new students from coming but that does nothing to protect the vulnerable children that are already there, and that’s unacceptable,” Lasater told FOX40.
FOX40 made repeated attempts Tuesday to get a comment from the school. Their previous spokesperson said he no longer represents Guiding Hands. The school’s front office has yet to respond to requests.
See below for the Department of Education’s full report on Guiding Hands:
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