Arrest made after Florida school’s ‘behavioral interventionist’ accused of fracturing 12-year-old’s skull

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PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – A 12-year-old boy’s skull was fractured during an altercation with a behavioral interventionist at a school in Pinellas Park, police said.

The incident occurred at AMI Kids, 6500 102nd Avenue North on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

According to Pinellas Park police, the 12-year-old boy had been “acting out” at lunch, so he was put in an isolated room called the “Room of Opportunity” with 34-year-old Dontae Thomas.

Police said Thomas, a 300-pound man, used the “arm-bar” maneuver to take the 100-lb child down but ended up slamming the child on his head.

Police said the boy started vomiting and losing consciousness and was in the room for about 90 minutes. A different behavioral interventionist escorted him to a conference room, where he was under observation for about 30 minutes.

“The child was actively crying, asking for his mother and stating his head hurt,” an affidavit said.

Instead of sending him to the hospital, however, police say a staffer gave him a bucket and the boy was dragged “Weekend at Bernie’s-style” from room to room, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The student was then accompanied by the BIs supervisor, Jarvis Delon West to board the bus.

According to the arrest report, West was “made aware of the fact that force was used against the student, that the student was in obvious medical duress.” Police said West made the bus driver stop at another student’s home to get the boy some water. He also had the driver pass other students’ stops to get the boy home faster.

Police said West never said anything to the boy’s mother who thought her child was sick with the flu. Two days passed, and the mother became concerned that her son was not getting better, so she brought him to All Children’s Hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a fractured skull, two subdural hematomas, and brain bleed.

“All of these injuries are believed to be the result of the aforementioned physical encounter,” police said.

West, 28, was arrested and charged with failure to report child neglect and neglect of a child resulting in great bodily harm.

He was released from the Pinellas County Jail after posting a $55,000 bond.

Police did not say what charges Thomas may face at this time.

AMI Kids sent the following statement on the matter in an e-mail:

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the young man and his family during his time of recovery. When we were notified by the authorities as to the extent of this incident, we took immediate disciplinary action. AMIkids Pinellas does not tolerate any behaviors that could cause harm to our students, as our top priority is the safety of our kids, our team and this community. In addition to fully cooperating with the authorities, we are also conducting an internal investigation of this matter.

-Joseph Gallina, Director of Marketing and Communications for AMI Kids

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