NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- UPDATE: Principal Ronda McDonald
was arrested and charged with Child Abuse. Lt. Adam Militello with the
Neptune Beach police said she turned herself in Tuesday afternoon.
A mother and father are looking for justice after they say their Down syndrome son was pulled from his classroom by his private school principal and badly hurt.
Meibol and Cesar Suarez adopted their grandson, who has Down syndrome,
after his parents were no longer able to take care of him.
They enrolled him in a school for children with learning disabilities, where they believed he would be safely taken care of. But according to Neptune Beach Police Department, about 3 weeks ago the 11-year-old was harshly disciplined in class and criminal charges could follow.
"This is my child. I have to protect my child," said Meibol Suarez.
She's still furious weeks after her son came home with bruises on his arm and side.
She said as a child with Down syndrome, he sometimes throws himself to the ground and refuses to get up.
According to police, on September 12th, while at the New Leaf School for Change, the 11-year-old did just that.
But what happened next Suarez says is shocking.
"The child was defiant," said Lt. Adam Militello with the Neptune Beach Police Department. "He was not getting up from the ground and the principal pulled him across the floor, just under 30 feet. Some of it unfortunately over concrete and over two door thresholds."
Cesar Suarez remembers picking his child up from school that day. And he couldn't believe his eyes.
"You could imagine, when I saw his hand like that and his rib cage I said 'Jesus Christ this is criminal,'" Cesar Suarez said. "'What did you do to my baby?' The only thing she could say is 'I'm deeply sorry.'"
He says New Leaf Principal, Ronda McDonald, has apologized several times, sending cards and emails.
She acknowledged to FCN that the incident occurred, but said any injury she caused was quote "unfortunate and unintentional."
"I want justice to be done," said Cesar Suarez. "And I hope we get justice."
"I would like to see that this never happens to any other kid ever," said Meibol Suarez.
Principal McDonald said the boy did not appear to be in distress during the incident. She said she deeply cares for the child and his family. The Suarez's son has been placed in another school. Lt. Militello said this is an ongoing investigation but it will be up to the State Attorney's Office to decide whether to file charges.
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