Minnetonka parents say teacher who bit special needs student should be disciplined

Nick Johnson's parents say a Minnetonka teacher bit their autistic son during an incident in a community locker room.

But because Nick, 15, has limited verbal skills and there were no witnesses, the city attorney can only get the teacher's side of the story.

On January 9, Nick came home with bite marks on the right side of his back. His parents, Mikki and Gregg, say they immediately knew something had gone terribly wrong.

They say Nick's special education teacher at Minnetonka High School was with their son and his classmates at the Williston Center pool that day.

At some point, Nick became agitated because he didn't want to swim anymore. When the teacher brought him into the locker room to change, an altercation ensued.

"She took him into the family locker room to have him change and she said when she got in there, he turned around and squeezed her arms and she pushed him into the shower room and shut the door on him," Mikki says.

A letter from the Minnetonka City Attorney says, "Your son bit the teacher's right wrist, and the teacher reported that 'without even thinking, I bit his back.'"

The superintendent of Minnetonka Public Schools says that because the case involves a juvenile and is still under investigation, he can't comment on it at this time.

Minnetonka police confirm a report has been filed against the teacher. But the city attorney says he's declining to press charges because there's insufficient evidence of any criminal wrongdoing.

And because Nick can't provide his version of what happened in the locker room, charges will probably never be forthcoming.

Mikki isn't happy about that.

"If everybody just says because they don't have language, they can just be taken advantage of and that's okay, I can't sit back and let that happen," she says. "They need protection and it doesn't feel like anybody wants to protect them, so I will."

Nick's parents say he has no history of biting since he was a toddler.

Even if there was evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the teacher intended to bite Nick, she might be protected by Minnesota law thanks to a statute allowing teachers to use reasonable force to restrain a child.

In any event, Mikki says she's now considering taking Nick out of the Minnetonka school district.

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