Darien Special Ed Case to Have Its Day In Court

Darien News Online

March 4, 2010

By: Maggie Gordon

http://www.dariennewsonline.com/news/article/Darien-special-ed-case-to-have-its-day-in-court-390598.php

Five years after filing a lawsuit against the Darien Board of Education, the parents of four special education students will have their day in court on May 3.

The original lawsuit, filed in February 2005, alleges that the children were repeatedly struck, berated, force fed and refused bathroom access from November 2003 to March 2004 while attending the Early Learning Program (ELP) at Hindley School. The children, who were between the ages of 3 and 5 at the time, were identified as Gary, Allan, Jonathon and Bobby Doe.

“This decision [to bring the case to court] is a long time coming for these four families,” said Mark Sherman, the lawyer representing the families. “While the children have moved on with their lives, the events of that school year continue to haunt the parents and the effects of the abuse still linger and exacerbate each of these children’s disabilities.”

The parents, identified as Paul, Lisa, Mary and Alice Doe, allege that teacher’s aides Johnna Galiatsos and Kim Granite committed assault and battery, false imprisonment, recklessness and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit also alleges that Granite, Galiatsos and former teacher Karen Wilson violated substantive due process pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

According to court documents, there were five aides in the classroom. The lawsuit alleges that the children were repeatedly abused by Galiatsos and Granite when the two aides were left in charge by Wilson. The allegations include shouting in the children’s faces, striking the children and then berating them when they cried.

Galiatsos and Granite are also accused of having sexually explicit conversations in front of the students, force-feeding them, calling them names such as “brats” and “babies” and not allowing them to go to the bathroom, according to court documents.

The schools administration conducted an investigation into the abuse, and determined the aides’ conduct to be physically and verbally abusive toward the children, according to the lawsuit. Both aides were fired in April 2004.

The original lawsuit named the Town of Darien, the BOE, former superintendent Mary Jo Kramer, former Hindley Principal Jerry Saunders, Wilson, Galiatsos and Granite as defendants. The Court has since granted summary judgment in favor of the Town of Darien, the BOE, Kramer and Saunders.

The decision to bring this case to court was made by Senior United States District Judge Warren W. Eginton on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Several calls were made to both Conway and Galiatsos’ attorneys, but were not returned as of press time. Granite’s attorney, Mark Perkins, declined to comment on the case.