Things That Matter

Florida Teacher Hospitalized And Left ‘Unresponsive’ After A 5-Year-Old Student Attacked Her

Parents and students alike are shocked after a South Florida elementary school teacher was attacked by a 5-year-old student, leaving her “unresponsive” without being able to “vocally respond or show signs of a response.” 

Trisha Meadows is a pre-K teacher at Pines Lakes Elementary School with a special needs classroom. The Pembroke Pines Police report shows that two of her students of the ages four and five began to throw objects and flip chairs around the class, putting other students and teachers in danger. That’s when Meadows took the 5-year-old into a specialized “cool down” room in order to calm the student down. However, that’s when the attack occurred.

According to the report, Meadows used the school radio to signal to others in the school that she needed assistance in calming the child. However, by the time the officer arrived, the teacher was sitting against a wall, “appearing to be in a faint state.”

Broward Teachers Union President and Meadows’ representative Anna Fusco told NBC Miami that Meadows “was caught where he ran and jumped on her and attacked her with his body weight, which caused the severe injury and she will need surgery.” While the student is around 50 to 60 pounds, Meadows is about 5-foot-4 with a “slender frame.” 

Reports say that Meadows needed help to stand and was “clearly weak and dazed,” coughing and dry heaving. The officer who came to assist her “laid her on her side and held her head up straight to maintain an open airflow and prevent possible choking,” and attempted to communicate with her. The officer said, “[I asked] if she could hear me or feel me touching her arm to which I didn’t get a response.”

Although she “continued to blink and breathe regularly,” Meadows remained unresponsive, so a rescue unit was called. The teacher in her early 30s or 40s was taken in a stretcher to Memorial Regional Hospital, and was intubated according to Fusco. While Meadows is now recovering at home, Fusco explains the teacher “fell and hit her head” during the attack, “which caused the severe injury and other bodily injuries where she is going to need surgery.”

While the current report cites the two criminal charges “aggravated assault with hands, fist or feet” and “aggravated battery to cause bodily harm or disability,” the 5-year-old special needs student will not be charged. Pembroke Pines Police Department PIO Amanda Conwell told PEOPLE, “no arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed with the State Attorney’s Office at this time.”

Meanwhile, Pembroke Pines police explained the child would probably not be charged because he is “under the age of reasoning,” and reportedly confirmed on Monday he will definitely not be charged.

The police report described that the officer contacted child protective investigations, who stated they will respond to the 5-year-old’s home, while Pines Lakes Elementary School said the school was always secure during the attack, and “as always, the health, safety and well being of our students and staff continues to be my highest priority.”

Still, parents and Meadows’ union, particularly her representative Fusco, are demanding action. Fusco told PEOPLE that the student in question had attacked “more than once… several times. He’s hurt other children.”

Fusco said the school environment is “unsafe,” explaining, “our school district knew about the level of violence this student possessed but the sense of urgency wasn’t there from school’s leadership or our district’s leadership.” She said, “something has to be done,” but once again, it’s not just about this particular student, even if he did allegedly injure Meadows in the past according to the union president.

The disabled community needs more support in all walks of life, and directing more funding to special needs programs can assure safety to all students and teachers.

The union president said, “funding could bring in more people… [then] we can pay them better and afford proper professional development and the resources around that.” Explaining the attack further, especially with many people questioning how a 5-year-old could severely injure an adult, she said: “it’s not easy when you have a room full of students and one or more of them is enraged… [the student caught] her off guard. She couldn’t work to control him because she was injured.”

Plus, teachers and staff “are not allowed to touch students.”

While the Broward Teachers Union said it is “unlikely” for Meadows to return to her classroom after the attack, Fusco said Meadows “wants to get better and get back to work as soon as she can,” as long as the school can assure she is safe. Holding the school or district accountable could make much-needed changes in funding towards special needs programs, which would protect both the teachers and students alike. 

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