Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills, Calif., is set to close.

Autistic student, 13, dies after being restrained at California school

Dec. 7, 2018
Officials are investigating what happened to the boy, who attended Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills, Calif.

A 13-year-old student has died after being restrained at a school for autistic students in California.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the California Department of Education has suspended the certification of he Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills as it investigates the circumstances around the fatal incident on Nov. 28.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office says the student who died was severely autistic and allegedly became violent, prompting school staff to put him in a restraint hold. 

At some point, the boy became unresponsive, and the staff administered CPR and called for medical assistance. In the initial emergency call, the student was described as 6 feet tall and weighing 280 pounds. Authorities have not identified the student.

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson says his office is investigating the death, but declined further comment.

A source familiar with the incident said a teacher at Guiding Hands School is under investigation after a "prone restraint" was used to subdue the child for roughly an hour.

A prone restraint involves immobilizing a student in a face down position.

Bill Ainsworth, a spokesman for the California Department of Education, says the suspension means the school will not be able to accept additional students.

The school issued a written statement through a public relations firm:

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the very difficult news that a beloved member of our school community has passed away. Out of respect for the family, and the ongoing investigation, we are unable to share full details at this time,” the statement read in part.

Guiding Hands is K-12 school that provides special education and related services to children with special needs, according to its website. State records show the school had 137 students and 16 full-time staff in 2017-18.

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