Teen with special needs claims school staff member put him in chokehold at J.C. Harmon HS

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A seventeen year-old student with special needs attending J.C. Harmon High School came home from school in April saying a paraprofessional put him in a chokehold, and he ended up in the hospital with a muscle strain. Now his sister, his guardian, wants to know why this happened and why it's so hard to get answers to that question.

25 year-old Amanda Hand is the primary guardian of her seventeen year-old brother, John. The siblings' mother passed away several years ago, and John has health issues.

“He had open heart surgery at 3 months, he fought and fought and fought and made it,” said Hand.

Doctors also diagnosed John with Trisomy B, a syndrome that causes developmental delays. So when he came home saying a paraprofessional hurt him by putting him in a chokehold in April, she was ready to take action.

“It makes him want to be violent. It was so bad last year that he wanted to kill himself, or go to school and harm that teacher's aide because he couldn't take it anymore,” said Hand.

Amanda said she's supposed to be notified if there is an emergency intervention with her brother at school. But she said she didn't hear from administrators until the following day.

“Every which way we've tried with these people they've blocked us and had the cops come and tried to scare us away and what not,” said Hand.

Multiple attempts to meet with the school board, school and district officials, and Hand said she hasn't been able to see evidence or the surveillance video of the incident.

“This was very time consuming when all they had to do was do the right thing,” Hand said.

The only help she says she got was from the Kansas Department of Education, which in a report, said the district violated the emergency safety intervention regulations. It's a step in the right direction, Hand said, but she wants all the answers from the district, and an assurance that her brother will be safe.

'It's heartbreaking because he's gone through a lot in his 17 years," said Hand.

The Kansas City, Kan. School District spokesperson said the district will follow the state's instructions- which include continuing to investigate the matter. The District can’t comment further, however.

The paraprofessional Hand said was involved in at least two incidents with John, including this one, has been let go.

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