An autistic 8-year-old is facing battery charges for slugging his teacher in the face when she yanked away his iPad, according to a report.
The second grader at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico got “overwhelmed” last month when his special education teacher took the device, his mom, Maria McKay told KRQE.
“When he’s in an environment where it’s really loud, he starts whaling his hands, and he has hit in the past,” the mom said Friday.
McKay said iPads are a source of comfort for her son and that he acted out after the unnamed teacher yelled and snatched the device from his hands — which is not described in the police report.
“If you’re screaming at him, if you’re yelling at him, he is extremely overwhelmed,” she said. “He may hit, he may kick, he may run. That is just how he communicates.”
The teacher told police she was left with a bruise on her face after the incident and that it’s not the first time something like this has happened.
“[She] didn’t feel she should have to expect to get battered by her students and be okay with it,” the police report, reviewed by the outlet, states.
Still, McKay thinks filing a police report was an overreaction and indicates the teacher doesn’t understand how to instruct her autistic son, named DJ, she said. .
“If you do not have a passion for dealing with children, and especially children with disabilities, you should not teach,” she said.
She said the public school system “has really failed DJ” by not knowing how to de-escalate the situation.
A Rio Rancho Public Schools spokesperson confirmed the March 6 incident and said that they “cannot prevent a staff member from personally filing a [police] report.”
DJ was suspended for the incident, McKay said. Despite the end of his suspension, she’s chosen to only send him back to school once he’s transferred out of this teacher’s class.
He is scheduled to appear in a juvenile probation hearing next month and is “absolutely terrified,” the mom said.
“I wasn’t thinking,” the young boy said. “I try better.”