Special education teacher Trinda Barocas was accused of telling a classroom aide that the boy would likely misbehave, and "maybe he could be sick enough not to attend and we won't have to deal with it," according to the suit filed by his mother, Anita Young.
The boy didn't eat the candy bar, probably because he does not eat unfamiliar foods and didn't recognize its yellow wrapper, his mother said. The boy, who is mostly nonverbal, gets hives and swelling if he even touches peanuts and could die if he eats them.
"She knew how severe his allergy was," Young said Friday. "To tempt a child with something that could take their life _ honestly, it blows my mind. I think that she should be held accountable for what she's done."
Department of Education officials and Marion County prosecutors said they are investigating.
Officials at Mary Bryan Elementary School contacted Young in March after classroom aides reported that Barocas' was mistreating the boy, who was 7 at the time, and another child. Barocas left the school in February for reasons unrelated to the allegations, school officials said. She had worked there since August 2008.
Barocas does not have a listed phone number and her lawyer did not return a call seeking comment Friday. She told state child services officials that the abuse allegations were false and insisted she did nothing to prevent the boy from attending the field trip, according to a Department of Child Services report provided by Young's attorney.
A department spokeswoman said confidentiality laws bar the agency from acknowledging whether they investigate such cases.
Young believes criminal charges are warranted and wants Barocas barred from working with children. Holding back tears, she said: "It hurts a mother to know that every day I sent him back there."
The lawsuit said one classroom aide told school officials that Barocas treated the boy like a "caged animal" by keeping him for hours in a cubicle that was set up for the boy. Barocas also was accused of pinching the boy on numerous occasions, standing on his foot so he could not move his leg and grabbing the boy by the arm to drag him around the classroom.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 22 in Marion County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages and said school officials should have known about the abuse and had a duty to protect the boy.
The district said in a statement Friday that it filed a report with Child Protection Services on March 16, immediately upon learning of the alleged abuse. Barocas was put on administrative leave with pay on March 19 during the investigation. Barocas is no longer employed by Perry Township Schools.
The Indiana Department of Child Services reviewed the classroom aides' complaints and found that Barocas, "did not want (the boy) to attend the field trip to the Indianapolis Zoo because of his behavior," according to a DCS report provided by Young's lawyer. "She stated that he did go and did many things that he was not allowed to do. Trinda compared (the boy) to an 18-month-old child several times. Trinda denied that she did anything or said anything to stop (the boy) from coming on the field trip.
The DCS report said aides also claimed Barocas hit a 9-year-old girl with Down syndrome on the lips in an attempt to make her pull her tongue back into her mouth. Barocas told DCS officials that she would tap the girl's tongue her with two fingers as a physical prompt. Barocas said it was a therapeutic technique, not abuse.
In 2007, Barocas was placed on administrative leave in Franklin Community Schools after a nurse told a child's mother that she saw Barocas force-feeding the girl, slap her and improperly restrain her,according to The Indianapolis Star. Authorities cleared Barocas in that case.
"I did not, will not and would not hurt a child in my care," Barocas told the newspaper at the time.
Young said her son became more frustrated and angry, and would fight her when she tried to make him go to school at the time of the alleged abuse. He now attends a different school.
"He doesn't fight me to go to school," Young said. "It's wonderful to see him get up and put his backpack on and wait by the door."