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Article of Interest - Restraint & Court Cases

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Family Sues School System Over Use of Closet as “Time out Room”
WALB News 10, South Georgia, January 11, 2006
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In February, we introduced you to Boone Garvey, an autistic child who attended Lee County Primary School. His mother said Boone had been locked in a closet at school as a punishment for misbehaving. The school system defended the action, saying the closet was, in fact, a "time out room."

But on Friday a $15 million lawsuit was filed claiming a violation of the child's rights.

According to federal law, all disabled children have a right to free appropriate public education, a school district must even provide special education and related services at no cost to the child or parents.

But Sissy Garvey says her son was not provided an appropriate education, rather he suffered at the hands of a school system's employees.

Boone Garvey didn't want to talk to us on camera today, and that's understandable, something much more important to Boone was on TV.

But his mother, Sissy Garvey, had a lot to say. "He was playing a game that had to do with going to school and he started crying, and I asked him 'what's wrong?'

He said, 'all those bad guys, they locked that poor guy in the janitor closet.'"

In February, Sissy learned, from Boone's teachers, that he was placed in a 3-by-6 closet almost daily for misbehaving. "He expects things to be the same everyday. He's expecting to be in trouble, and I think what they did, they made it so regular, he thought, this is what you do. You go to class, you act up, you get sent in there."

Because Boone is autistic, Sissy says, he couldn't forget about the closet, and that caused him intense emotional distress each time he went to school, and she says he wasn't only hurt mentally. "They've done a lot of other things like physically hold him to the floor, like an animal. They've withheld his meals."

But now, she's hoping to get some lunch money back for him. Garvey is seeking $10 Million in special damages, another $5 Million in punitive damages.

"Well, It's really the only way you can get people's attention in positions like that. I could scream and holler all I want, but they ain't going to listen."

I contacted Dr. Larry Walters, who is the Superintendent of Lee County school's and is also named as a defendant in the law-suit, and asked him to comment on the case. He said he "wanted to remind [me] and everyone else that there were two sides to every story."

When asked for his side, Dr. Walters says he "Could not comment on pending litigation", and that it was "up to the lawyers to put it all together."

The school system may hire a lawyer to help attorneys for the system's insurance company handle the case.

Sissy Garvey has been home schooling Boone since February. She says he will soon begin going to a new school for half a day, five days a week.


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