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Parents of special needs student slapped by teacher looking for $700K in lawsuit

December 21, 2012

LAKEVILLE — The parents of a 12-year-old LaVille Junior/Senior High School student reportedly spanked and slapped by a special education teacher has notified the Union North United School Corporation that they intend to proceed with legal action.
Parents Tracy Martin and Michael Cuthbert have secured legal counsel through the Frazier Law Firm in Indianapolis. The tort put forth shows that the parents are seeking a maximum of $700,000 per incident.
According to Union North Superintendent Mitch Mawhorter, the corporation received a notice on Nov. 26 that legal action was being taken. Mawhorter said the interests of the school are being handled through Attorney Susan Traynor-Chastain, hired by JESSE (Joint Educational Services in Special Education) ,and that the matter was reported to the corporation’s insurance carrier. Mawhorter said there is a 90-day period for a response to the notice by the corporation.
The former teacher, Saundra Yute, who resigned from Union North within 20 minutes of the alleged incident on Nov. 20, is now facing a Class D Felony charge for battery to a child. Police say that Yute slapped and spanked the 7th grade student after the youth had a bathroom accident. The child has Sturge-Weber Syndrome, which leaves her with severe neurological problems.
Yute bonded out of the St Joseph County Jail within 90 minutes of her arrest Dec. 13. Yute is a licensed teacher and was working for Union North under an “emergency license” allowing her to teach in a special needs classroom. LaVille Junior/Senior High School Principal Jeremy Tucker indicated that Yute was a guidance counselor prior to coming to LaVille.
The child has now returned to the school after being absent for three weeks. Tucker said the class that the student attends is now being taught by a retired special education teacher. He said that plans are to transfer a special education teacher from another special education class in the corporation to the “Life Skills “ classroom and fill her current position with a teacher who will be certified on Jan. 1.
Mawhorter said they held a case conference with the parents and others before the child returned to the school.

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