An investigation into a 13-year-old student's death at a Northern California private school has found the school violated state rules when its staff put him in a face-down restraint position for nearly an hour.

State education regulators found evidence that staffers at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills used an unreasonable amount of force and put Max Benson in restraint for longer than necessary

The staff's actions were harmful to the health, welfare or safety of the student, a state inspection stated.

In a statement earlier this week, the school had said it was cooperating with authorities but that staff had used a "nationally recognised behaviour management protocol."

Benson, who had autism, became unresponsive while being held in a "prone restraint" at the school on Nov. 28 and died a day later at a hospital.

A parent who said her son witnessed the physical restraint told the newspaper Benson was disciplined by a teacher and teacher's aide for kicking a wall.

One mother said her son told her after Benson stopped moving, the staff told Benson to stop pretending he was sleeping. After about 30 minutes, the classmate said staff realized Benson was unresponsive and called for medical assistance.

Her son has been put in a restraint before at Guiding Hands, and the boy has told her students sometimes pretend to be asleep so staff would release them. Prone restraints are banned for use in schools in several states and are controversial. 

Joanne Purvis, Director of SecuriCare says, ”This is yet another needless death of a vulnerable young person at the hands of staff with a responsibility to provide care. When more details come out hopefully lessons can be learned to prevent future tragedies. The bottom line is that this should never happen…”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable individuals to deal with all facets of conflict, aggression and violence. These include ‘personal safety’, ‘conflict management’, ‘dealing with challenging behaviour’ as well as our physical skills ‘Train the Trainers’ pathway

For more information and to discuss your unique needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442

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