Caring for someone who has a severe disability takes patience, love and empathy.
Many carers would agree that it is both a stressful but ultimately rewarding job.
So, it is heartbreaking to see a woman with cerebral palsy being treated in such a horrific way as Rosa Smith.
Rosa’s family say her former teacher, amongst others, abused and neglected her for years,
They are now suing the school district.
The lawsuit is filed against Washtenaw Intermediate School District, a teacher, principal and two teacher’s aides.
The suit makes for grim reading and outlines ‘repetitive instances of abuse’ suffered by Rosa.
According to WFXG, the 26-year-old woman’s impairments makes her unable to communicate verbally. Rosa cannot also move her hands and arms.
Her family say that she endured physical, emotional and psychological harm at the hands of the defendants.
It is alleged they spilled scalding hot coffee on her, locked her in the bathroom for extended periods and even slapped her across the face.
‘These weren’t accidents, and there was abuse going on,’ attorney Jonathan Marko said during a press conference with Smith’s family.
The suit names Rosa’s former teacher, Nesa Johnson.
It claims she forcefully taped Rosa’s mouth shut in March of 2016 because she was ‘making noises.’
The teacher allegedly texted Smith’s mother a photo of Rosa with her mouth taped saying ‘Help. She won’t be quiet!!!!’
‘Defendant Johnson’s actions put Rosa’s life in jeopardy. Furthermore, hair and skin were missing from the area of Rosa’s face where Johnson removed the tape,’ the lawsuit states.
In February this year, a staff member allegedly slapped Rosa in the face several times ‘in plain view’ of other students and faculty members, the lawsuit alleges.
‘They blamed Rosa for scalding hot coffee being poured on her. They blamed Rosa for coming home with bruises on her. They even blamed Rosa for being too loud, and that’s why they had to gag and bound her,’ the family lawyer Jonathan Marko said in a press conference.
The allegations of abuse go as far back as 2004.
‘We can make sure that no one else is being abused, and we can stop the abuse from taking place. Had they fulfilled their legal duty 10 years ago, it could have prevented a lot of the torture that Rosa underwent,’ Marko said.
The school district says are conducting their own investigation and have taken immediate action.
‘As to the subject of this lawsuit, the family did not report this, or any other complaint to the district until nearly a year after it occurred,’ said the district in a statement.
‘We take the health, safety, and education of all of our students very seriously.’