The parents of a former Fulton County Schools student who died last year will file a $10.5 million lawsuit Thursday against the school district and other defendants, according to the family's attorney Jarrod Oxendine.
Ronald and Arthelia Hatcher said they believe abuse their son Aaron allegedly experienced at the hands of a Roswell High School teacher led to his death last March.
"They obviously don't care about special needs kids and their conditions," said Arthelia Hatcher.
According to the lawsuit, teacher Katherine Dorn Durden forced Aaron to wear a homemade neck brace which caused physical and mental suffering. Arthelia Hatcher said the neck brace restricted Aaron's breathing.
Ronald Hatcher said he notified school officials and the school board about the use of the unapproved neck brace but Dorn Durden continued using it. Oxendine said experts will testify that the use of the neck brace over several months caused stress on Aaron's neck which contributed to his death.
According to the lawsuit, Aaron also suffered abuse at the hands of former Hopewell Middle School teacher Melanie Pickens from 2005 to 2007.
In August, CBS Atlanta News reported a Fulton County Schools internal investigation substantiated Pickens had physically and verbally abused special needs students in her class, including Aaron.
District officials never told the Hatchers of the abuse, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint named 24 defendants including the school district, school board, Pickens and Dorn Durden, past and current administrators and school board members.
The allegations include assault and battery, false imprisonment, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil rights violations.
Oxendine said the lawsuit will be filed in the state court of Fulton County on Thursday morning.
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