By Macy Jenkins

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills is facing more criticism three months after a 13-year-old student with autism died after being restrained.

The school has since closed, but now has a GoFundMe page to raise money for a “going away party.”

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“It just seems insensitive and in bad taste and very, very hurtful to the people who miss Max and who loved him,” said Karen Hirsch, a friend of the Benson family.


Max Benson died back in November after being restrained in his Guiding Hands classroom. The California Department of Education shut down the school in January. But now the owners are throwing a party on Feb. 23 to “bring together everyone who loved Guiding Hands” and celebrate “this positive closure.”

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“Is it appropriate to be throwing a party?” asked CBS13’s Macy Jenkins.

“Certainly not publically with a fundraiser on GoFundMe,” Hirsch replied. “I don’t see that that’s appropriate.”

Karen Hirsch’s feelings were echoed in the comments on the GoFundMe Page. A woman named Monica wrote: “You killed a child and had your state certification revoked because of it. You have no business throwing yourselves a party and raising money for yourselves. Shame!”

Page creator Quynn Meyers-Keller wrote in the description that the funds will be spent on entertainment and refreshments and anyone contributing negativity will be asked to leave. So far, they’ve raised more than half of their $2,000 dollar goal.

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David Chambers wrote: “This is a good cause and the students, parents and employees need the proper closure and support.”

“We understand that there are families who had a positive experience there and that it is a loss for them,” Hirsch told CBS13. “And we have no problem with them and don’t begrudge them that is traumatic for them as well.”

But Hirsch urges everyone not to forget the 13-year-old boy who loved collecting rocks and being outdoors.

“He would always find a heart-shaped rock,” she said. “I think he found his mom a dog nose shaped rock once.”

A mother who had to spend her first Valentine’s Day Birthday without her little boy.

“It still doesn’t feel real that Max isn’t here anymore,” Hirsch said.

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We reached out to the GoFundMe creator but did not hear back. The party is scheduled for February 23.