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Friday, May 24, 2024
Friday May 24, 2024
Friday May 24, 2024

Teen assaults teacher over Nintendo switch, mum insists mainstream school was a mistake

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Florida teen’s violent outburst sparks debate on special education and mainstream schooling

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In a disturbing incident that shook Matanzas High School in February, 17-year-old Brendan Depa unleashed a violent attack on his teacher, Joan Naydich, leaving her unconscious. The catalyst for this shocking assault? A confiscated Nintendo Switch. As the court proceedings unfold, Brendan’s mother, Leanne Depa, has stepped into the public eye to make a plea for understanding.

In her first public appearance, Leanne argues that her son, diagnosed with autism and grappling with known behavioral issues, should never have been placed in a mainstream school. The violent incident left Naydich with five broken ribs and ongoing cognitive problems, prompting her to advocate for a 30-year prison sentence for Brendan.

Leanne, however, believes that prison would be a “death sentence” for her son, emphasizing his traumatic life experiences and the challenges posed by his mental disabilities. In an emotional plea, she shared, “He’s scared. And to have your child call and cry and say, ‘I don’t want to die’ — it’s awful.”

Brendan’s severe form of autism, ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, and reactive explosive disorder significantly impact his emotional regulation, understanding of consequences, and impulse control. Leanne reveals that Brendan had previously been in an autism behavioral hospital and was later sent to Matanzas High School by his intensive behavioral group home.

Expressing regret over the decision to enroll Brendan in a mainstream public school, Leanne explains, “I had always homeschooled him because he didn’t handle the school environment. I asked the group home, ‘Did he have to go to public school? Could he not do school online?’ And I was assured by them that all of their clients went to public school. I never thought he belonged in public school. I didn’t have a choice.”

Despite the plea for leniency based on Brendan’s mental health and traumatic experiences, his behavioral issues may not serve as a legal defense in Florida. As the case unfolds, Brendan remains in custody on a $1 million bond, awaiting his sentencing in January.

The incident sparks a broader discussion on the challenges faced by students with special needs in mainstream educational settings and the importance of appropriate accommodations and support.

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