Teacher Taped Disabled Student’s Mouth Closed, Because She Wouldn’t Be Quiet, & Texted Photo To Mother


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Ann Arbor, Michigan – A disturbing lawsuit alleging abuse of a disabled child, has been filed against the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

The 25-page lawsuit alleges Rosa Smith was abused over several years while attending High Point School.

The lawsuit filed against the Washtenaw Intermediate School District also names Rosa’s teacher Rosa’ former teacher, principle and two former teacher aides.

Smith’s teacher, Nesa Johnson, is accused of taping Smith’s mouth and sending a photo of the 26-year-old to her mother, along with a text that read, “Help. She won’t be quiet!!!”


“Awful, awful,” said Alreida Rice, after looking at pictures of the alleged abuse. “Abusing someone’s kid, they should not be still dealing with kids.”

“She should be dismissed and should never be able to teach anyone again,” said Rice.

“Taping a special-needs student’s mouth shut is appalling in-and-of-itself, but was especially torturous for Rosa, who is physically unable to remove the tape, has trouble breathing and clearing her throat, and breathes out of her mouth,” the lawsuit states.

“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 added.

Smith, 26, has cerebral palsy along with other disabilities, she started attending High Point School in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2004; the same year the abuse began.

In addition to having her face covered with tape, staffers at the school overmedicated her, slapped her, locked her in the bathroom for extended periods of time and spilled hot coffee on her leg, according to the lawsuit.

Smith’s mother once met her at the bus stop at the end of the school day and saw the skin on her leg burned off, according to court documents.

When her mother complained, however, the school denied wrongdoing, claiming the burns were self-inflicted after Rosa knocked the coffee off a shelf, the lawsuit states.

doreen smith

Doreen Smith cries during a news conference. She and her husband Christopher are suing the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for the alleged abuse their daughter suffered.

The lawsuit also claims staff members “intentionally over-medicated Rosa to mollify, pacify and sedate her instead of providing the educational services to which she had a federal right.”

In February this year, a staff member allegedly slapped Smith in the face several times “in plain view” of other students and faculty members, the lawsuit alleges.

While no one reported the alleged abuse, Smith’s bus driver witnessed the assault and later notified her mother, according to the court documents.

Washtenaw ISD releasing a statement saying in part:

We take the health, safety, and education of all of our students very seriously. 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.


The statement goes on to say:

When we were first informed of the family’s concern, we immediately conducted a complete investigation and took appropriate remedial action.

“You just wish people had better hearts or they just had a better understanding of people with disabilities,” said Stallworth.

The lawsuit is asking for damages and attorney fees paid for whatever amount a jury deems fair and reasonable.

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