PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — Three school employees charged in connection to the death of a 13-year-old special needs student are set to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
One year ago, Max Benson went to Guiding Hands special needs school and never came home. He was restrained after showing violent behavior and at some point lost consciousness. Deputies say he died two days later.READ MORE: Many Californians May Be Underinsured For Upcoming Storm
The California Department of Education said the amount of force used against the 13-year-old was unreasonable. Now, Guiding Hands employees have to answer for that.
“It doesn’t really have an intent to harm or intentional conduct. It’s more reckless and negligent and so wholly reckless that we have to punish,” said Mark Reichel, a Sacramento-based criminal justice attorney.
Reichel said there are laws in California that prohibit schools from restraining kids to prevent something like this from happening. Former Guiding Hands Executive Director Cindy Keller, Principal Staranne Myers, and teacher Kimberly Wohlwend all face charges in this case.READ MORE: Parts Of Nevada County May Be Evacuated Due To Storms
According to the district attorney, Wohlwend did the actual restraining. CBS13 tried to contact her for comment at her home Tuesday night but got no answer.
The corporation that owned Guiding Hands faces an involuntary manslaughter charge too.
“Obviously the corporation itself can’t do any jail time or incarceration. But the benefit you get from suing a corporation is that all the assets become subject to restitution to reimburse the victims,” Reichel said.
Reichel said the corporation could be subject to a lot more state regulation if there’s a conviction. He said this case poses an interesting question to the state: does more need to be done to protect special needs children?MORE NEWS: Sacramento Police Put Out Traffic Alert Ahead of Ironman
“It really does raise a lot of issues about training and getting the right individuals to work in this industry,” he said.