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Community Calls For Guiding Hands School To Shut Down After Teen's Death

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The community mourning the loss of a teenage boy with autism is also calling for a change to prevent any more tragedy.

13-year-old Max Benson died a day after being restrained at the Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills. The California Department of Education is now saying it appears the school violated state rules.

It is an emotional time for the community who came out to support young Max and his family. Many are demanding that California shuts down the school.

Melissa Lasater did not think twice before removing her son from the Guiding Hands school last week. She says her son is the same age as Max, just 13-years-old.

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This comes after the death of Max who died a day after losing consciousness while being restrained inside his classroom. It's a practice that Lasater says is all too common. She claims her son was restrained four times in one month for minor behavior issues.

"They are using this not as an emergency, but as a punishment. Which is not what it's designed to be," Lasater said.

According to a letter obtained by CBS13, in a preliminary investigation, the California Department of Education found that Guiding Hands violated multiple state rules in regard to Max's death including using an emergency restraint in a non-emergency situation, using the restraint for longer than necessary with unreasonable force, as well as failing to use intervention strategies that were required in Max's individual education plan.

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Advocates for those with disabilities joined parents and former students of the school, including Katie Kaufman who says she was also restrained often.

"They throw the person on the floor in a body slam," Kaufman said.

She and others say it's time to shut down the school.

The department of education is still working on a further investigation into Max's death. That information will not be released until the investigation is complete.

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