Father testifies that Keller district ignored concerns that his special needs son was being injured

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A wheelchair-bound special-needs student who cannot talk developed a neurological disorder because of the treatment he received from a former teacher at Keller Middle School, the student’s father testified in federal court Tuesday.

Terrence Rideau II, 18, called Little T by family members, developed dystonia, which means he stiffens his body during certain activities, his father, Terrence Rideau, testified.

Dystonia is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that can cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures.

Taking care of Little T became more difficult after he developed the condition, his father said.

“Most diaper changes, I have to work through the dystonia,” Terrence Rideau said. “I have to wait until he’s out of it to change him. I am doing this by myself. I know it’s dangerous, but I do it anyway. I’m his father.”

Little T’s parents sued the Keller school district in 2010, accusing officials of ignoring concerns that special-needs children were being mistreated by Dan Evans, a special-education teacher who worked at Bear Creek Intermediate School and Keller Middle School. The Rideaus say their son regressed developmentally after being enrolled in Evans’ class.

The Rideaus sued in federal court, saying the district violated provisions of federal law protecting people with disabilities. The trial is in its second week before U.S. District Judge Terry Means.

Evans was hired in 2002 and resigned in 2011 during an investigation of his behavior.

In Evans’ class between 2008 and 2010, the teen suffered injuries, including a swollen left knee, a head contusion, a fractured thumb and dislocated right knee, according to the lawsuit.

If Little T lives to be 72, it’s estimated that he will need between $2.7 million and $4 million in care, said Susan Brooks, a self-employed life-care specialist who worked with the Keller school district.

Keller school district rules call for teachers to get assistance from another adult when they need to lift special-needs children. Evans repeatedly ignored the two-person lift directive, according to the testimony of people who worked within the school district.

Evans told the jury Thursday that he has a bad back that requires two braces, and that the two teacher’s aides who assisted in his classroom also had physical challenges. One aide had a hip injury, another had the use of only one arm, Evans testified.

Little T was dropped several times, said Michael Hurst, an attorney for the family.

The Rideaus are divorced, which Terrence Rideau said he partially blames on arguments the couple had about how to deal with the injuries Little T received at school.

The father testified that his mother and sister, both school administrators in Louisiana, advised him to leave Little T in the Keller school district. But after the physical injuries and emotional trauma mounted, his wife wanted to take Little T out of school, Terrence Rideau said. Keller officials investigated the parents’ suspicions and produced a report after the injuries occurred, Breggett Rideau testified.

“If I had known then what I know now, he would not have had to deal with some of this,” Terrence Rideau said about his son’s injuries.

“I would have gotten him out of there. The district, they knew things were going on and we were never told.”

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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