A video of a former Clark County School District (CCSD) teacher allegedly abusing a student with special needs is key evidence in two federal lawsuits filed against the teacher and the district.
The lawsuits helped spur state Senate hearings held earlier this year to install video cameras in special needs classrooms, a request that has been made by parents for more than a decade. Democratic Congresswomen Suzie Lee was so disturbed by the problem that she testified earlier this year on Capitol Hill.
Clark County, encompassing Las Vegas and the fifth largest school district in the country, reported the fifth largest number of restraints and seclusion incidents in the 2015-2016 school year of special needs children, according to a 2019 GAO report.
In January, CCSD reached a $1.2 million settlement in a multi-year lawsuit brought by six parents of three autistic children for alleged abuses committed by a teacher. Similar lawsuits are ongoing.
The $1.2 million “was almost certainly less than half of the actual cost of the lawsuit to the district – and thus to Nevada taxpayers,” Steven Miller, senior vice president at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, argues. Miller testified before the state Senate supporting the measure to install cameras.
For this one case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal estimated an additional $1 million was expected to be paid to cover plaintiff attorney fees “not to exceed $500,000” and “other costs estimated at roughly $425,000” but yet to be determined at the time.
These figures exclude CCSD’s in-house financial costs, Miller adds, which could have otherwise been directed toward education and the district’s now $17 million deficit, not to mention the loss of CCSD’s “moral reputation and to the credibility of its programs and top officers.”
“The total costs at issue are virtually incalculable,” he says.
Taxpayers continue to ask questions over CCSD spending after an ethics complaint was lodged this summer against CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara, who expensed a $2,409 Peloton exercise bike while the CCSD cut $98 per student in education funding to mitigate its $17 million deficit, despite the Democratic Legislature having increased state funding for education earlier this year.
CCSD is responsible for more than 300,000 students and has a police force of roughly 168 officers. The district police department has been involved in numerous teacher abuse investigations, many of which have led to recent arrests of teachers on multiple counts of lewdness involving a child under age 14, unlawful contact with a minor or mentally ill person, distributing child pornography or possessing child pornography, kidnapping, child abuse, sale of a controlled substance, among other charges.
The Las Vegas CBS News affiliate, 8 News NOW, broadcast the video Wednesday and Thursday, which shows former Kirk Adams Elementary School teacher Kasey Glass engaged in what appears to be physically restraining an autistic non-verbal child after she took away his food.
Withholding food as a form of punishment falls under the category of “aversive intervention,” which is illegal.
A CCSD spokesperson told The Center Square that Glass no longer works at the school or for the district.
The Superintendent of Floyd Elementary School in Nye County has confirmed that Glass was hired as a special needs instructor for the 2017-2018 school year.
The CCDP recommended that District Attorney Steve Wolfson pursue criminal charges against Glass, which did not happen because “the records were destroyed per Clark County policy,” according to 8 News NOW. CCSD declined to confirm whether or not this was policy, or if it had destroyed records, when asked by The Center Square.
Neither Wolfson’s office nor the State Department of Education responded to requests for comments for this story.