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Parents of teen with autism sue Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and school district

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY (WFLA) – The parents of a teen with autism are suing the Pinellas County School District and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for negligence.

Derek and Megan Dowdy said their son suffered at the hands of former school resource officer Ural Darling when he berated the teen at Osceola Middle School in 2017.

“He shouldn’t have been around children in the first place. Especially children with special needs,” said Megan Dowdy during an interview with News Channel 8 in 2017.

The boy, who was 13-years-old at the time, was removed from the class by Darling after he allegedly threw a book at a teacher.

He was then escorted to the behavioral specialist’s office where authorities said the threats continued. It was captured on a recording device Megan Dowdy stuck in the boy’s pocket.

“Now let me start throwing books. You want me to throw books at you?” said Darling.

The Dowdy’s said the specialist did not intervene. In the lawsuit, The Dowdy’s claim the school failed to protect their son. The specialist was reprimanded by the district.

Darling was fired, but the couple’s attorney, Michael Bird, said the teen has not been the same and has been receiving counseling. “From his parents perspective, he’s a different kid now than he was before,” said Bird.

Autism advocate, Dennis Debbaudt said the SRO should have used a different approach to discipline.

“I’m here. I can see you’re upset. Take all the time you need to calm down,” said Debbaudt.

Representatives with the sheriff’s office and the school district could not comment.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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