MRDD officials deny suit claims

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

IRONTON — The defendants’ response to the civil lawsuit concerning the Lawrence County Open Door School and a former student denies allegations made by the mother, who initiated the case.

In June Donna Hundley of Chesapeake filed a federal lawsuit against the Lawrence County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities that governs the Open Door School.

Hundley’s 11-year-old son had been a student at the school from 2004 to 2007.

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The child has been diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy and ADHD and suffers from a variety of medical issues including chronic migraine headaches, sleep disorder and spasticity in his limbs.

Among the allegations in the suit are claims that meetings held at Open Door were in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; that there was no reading curriculum geared to autistic children; that the child’s teachers had no special education certification while teaching him; and that the child, who had a history of disrobing, was strapped naked to a chair and carried from a classroom to the principal’s office.

The board denies that the meetings were in violation of IDEA and affirms that “at all relevant times … teachers were certified or licensed in compliance with Ohio Department of Education rules and regulations.”

The board also denies both that there was no reading curriculum and that “based upon knowledge or lack of knowledge, the allegations” concerning the child being carried naked from a classroom.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial for unspecified damages and names MRDD superintendent Paul Mollett, Open Door principal Kendra Kelley, speech therapist Daniel Honaker and teachers, Vanessa Honaker, Glenda Deering and Carrie Blevins, in their official and individual capacities.

Kenneth Myers, a Cleveland-based attorney, represents Hundley. Means, Bichimer, Burkholder & Baker of Columbus represents the defendants.