A Perry Meridian Middle School teacher and classroom aide accused of improperly restraining a special-education student have been charged with two felonies.
Catherine Littleton and instructional aide Jeffery Stokes in February allegedly used belts to strap a seventh-grade student to his chair and bound his hands with masking tape, said Perry Township Superintendent Thomas Little.
According to court documents filed this week in Marion Superior Court, Littleton and Stokes face three charges: criminal confinement, a Class C felony; neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony; and battery, a Class B misdemeanor.
Advocates for people with disabilities said Friday that the charges reflect an increase in reports of abuse of special-education students. Perry Township has dealt with two previous reports, and earlier this week, an Indianapolis woman claimed in a lawsuit that an Indianapolis Public Schools teacher's aide traumatized her developmentally disabled son in January by tying him to a chair with a belt.
Autismis the fastest-growing developmental disability in the nation, and Indiana ranks near the top. The state is fourth highest for the number of children living with the challenging and confusing disorder, 6News' Stacia Matthews reported. Across the country, the number of children diagnosed with autism has exploded upward by 600 percent in the last 20 years.
Nationwide, the disorder strikes 1 in 110 kids, while the rate is 1 in 100 in Indiana.
Doctorsattribute the higher number to a statewide system of highly trained doctors who can diagnose the disorder early on.