LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Court documents filed on Monday lay out the details behind a claim that a Limestone County School employee abused a 12-year-old non-verbal student with autism.
The lawsuit is a complaint against Limestone County Schools and Robye Patterson, who was employed as an Instructional Aide at East Limestone High School, saying she was violent with the boy earlier this school year.
Court documents say the mother of the student found bruises on his arms, legs and buttocks when he came home from school early in November of 2021. The mother suspected Patterson had been abusive towards her son.
The 12-year-old has never attacked another student or teacher, court documents state and has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which says he needs to be self-contained in a special education classroom and receive speech therapy and occupational therapy.
Patterson did not have any “restraint training” to help with special needs students, the complaint says.
On November 15, the mother met with the school’s administration, including Principal Louis Berry. According to court documents, the mother was told by Principal Berry during this meeting that she needed to keep her son home because “his teachers needed a break from him.”
A little over a week after that meeting, an unnamed teacher called the mother and said Patterson was abusing children at the school, including her son, court records say.
The incident was then referred to the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) for investigation.
Investigators reportedly told the mother that they had found “a number of red flags,” including a failure to report incidents to parents, DHR, or the LCSO, which led to a “series of systematic failures,” the complaint states.
An Alabama Uniform Incident/Offense Report was then filed by the mother with the LCSO in connection to the incident.
Patterson was arrested on March 4, 2022 and charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, of a minor identified in the charging document by his initials. The arrest warrant alleges Patterson “kicked him, leaving bruises,” between September 1 and October 31 of 2021.
The lawsuit requests compensatory and punitive damages for mental anguish and severe emotional distress the boy suffered as a result of the assault, invasion of privacy, negligence, and recklessness.
Patterson is not listed as an employee on the school’s website, but it is unconfirmed if she still works with the district or not.
A hearing is scheduled to be held in August for Patterson, who is currently out on bond and has pleaded not guilty.