Cumberland teaching assistants accused of mishandling student
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations that a student with autism was roughed up by teaching assistants who were trying to restrain him.
The student, a fifth-grader at Mary McArthur Elementary School in Fayetteville, is in a self-contained class for children with special needs.
The class has a teacher and two teaching assistants who are specially trained to handle students who may become combative.
But Tyler Mercier’s parents say what occurred Tuesday went beyond what should have been needed to restrain their child.
Joseph Glegola, Tyler’s stepfather, was called after Tyler’s teacher said the 11-year-old had a meltdown and needed to be restrained.
Glegola said he found Tyler in the bathroom with a bloody nose.
“He came out of the bathroom, blood coming out of his nose,” Glegola said. “He said, ‘Dad, they threw me around. They threw me around.’”
Tyler said he was tossed around by two male teaching assistants who were in his room.
“After that, he started tossing me around,” Tyler said. “Then he tossed me, kept on tossing me around the tile floor, and then he tossed me on the carpet.”
Tyler suffered multiple cuts and bruises on his back, face and neck. Glegola said Tyler was also cut when a cord he was holding onto was ripped from his hand.
In a statement, school leaders said their top priority is to provide “a safe learning environment for all students and staff.”
“Although we are unable to address the details of the investigation due to student privacy and personnel laws, all allegations are being thoroughly investigated, and the district will respond appropriately,” the statement continued.
Tyler’s parents said Thursday that they’re not ready to send their child back to school.
“He’s not going back to school until this investigation is over, until we can make sure that our son is going to be safe,” Glegola said.