Teen Who Beat Teaching Aide Over Nintendo Switch Confiscation Sues School For “Failing To Meet His Needs”

Natasha Biase

A violent autistic teen who was caught on camera brutally beating a teaching aide last year is seeking legal recourse against a Florida school district for “failing to meet his needs.” Brendan Depa was arrested for aggravated battery and is facing up to 30 years in prison for assaulting an employee at Matanzas High School.

According to the Daily Mail, the 18-year-old teen, who is over 6 feet tall and weighs almost 270 pounds, is suing the Flagler County school district for “failing to meet his needs” after 59-year-old teaching aide Joan Naydich took away his Nintendo Switch.

In response to Naydich’s threat, Depa reportedly spat on her and chased her as she fled the classroom to report the incident to school administrators. Disturbing surveillance footage shows the teen, who was 17 at the time, pushing the teaching aide “to the ground before kneeling and punching her in the head and back” over a dozen times.

In the suit, Depa’s lawyers claim that Matanzas High School employees knew of his “disabilities, triggers, and problem behaviors,” along with his history of wrongdoings, including spitting, shoving an aide, intimidating school staff, and shouting at his teachers. It also highlights that because Depa is “a large black male student, he is subjected to misperceptions and racism.”

The lawsuit noted that “the school and staff working with him and the district knew that the electronics, specifically the Nintendo and its use on a school campus, was a trigger for escalating behaviors,” reads the filing, which describes the teen as a “ticking time bomb whose needs, despite concerns and warnings, were completed disregarded by the district.”

Continuing, Depa’s lawyers argued that the brutal attack on Naydich, who suffered from multiple broken ribs and a concussion, was due to the school district’s “failure to address his needs or have staff around him” with the proper training.

“This incident started with a paraprofessional and the student exchanging words and the student being reprimanded in front of his peers. He was punished by being denied his electronic device, even though other students were allowed theirs. The paraprofessional and the teacher began discussing his ability to bring electronics to school, in front of him and in front of his classmates.”

The suit also describes Depa’s behavior as a “self-defense” mechanism after hearing educators “talk about him in front of his other classmates.” His lawyers blame the entire incident on Naydich, arguing she should not have interacted with him in the manner she did.

“The paraprofessional should not have interacted with the student in this manner. Her and the teacher’s actions caused a predictable outcome. The IEP and behavior set out the evidence [of] interventions that should be utilized when a student misbehaves. The paraprofessional did not follow the plan and did not utilize an evidence-based strategy, putting herself in a dangerous situation.”

Despite Naydich expressing how the attack has negatively impacted her life, turning her into a “totally different person.” Depa’s lawyers are seeking “compensatory education and placement in a behavioral therapeutic school” at the school district’s expense as well as covering the cost of any “out-of-pocket costs including tutoring fees and mental health services.”

Depa’s sentencing for the assault is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1.

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