News 8 Investigates: Principal investigated for allegedly dragging student with disability

A News 8 investigation found a Prairie du Chien principal being investigated for alleged child abuse was previously investigated for other incidents. Aaron Amundson, a principal at Bluff View Intermediate School, is charged for allegedly using gum remover and a scrub pad on a student.

Amundson was investigated in 2009 for allegedly dragging a 10-year-old student with a disability by her wrists and ankles. These incidents at Bluff View Intermediate School were referred to in Amundson’s personnel file when he was being investigated for separate disciplinary issues.

Former Prairie du Chien School District parent Kris Rutherford said her daughter came home after school one day in March 2009. Her daughter finally said what had been happening during the school year.

“She was at the Veterans [Day] program and she was scooting on the floor. Well, she has ADHD and she has a hard time sitting still,” Rutherford said.

In a complaint letter submitted to the Department of Public Instruction on September 14, 2009, Rutherford said Aaron Amundson attempted to stop her daughter.

“She was scooting around his feet. So, in front of everyone, he picked her up and threw her over his shoulder and took her to the office,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford’s then 10-year-old daughter was put in a seclusion room, which is used to prevent students from harming themselves or others.

“They’re like a closet with a desk in it. That’s all that’s in there,” Rutherford said.

The letter states the fourth-grader refused to go to the office another time.

“She wouldn’t go with him to the office so he grabbed her by the ankles and dragged her down the hallway into the office,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said she brought her concerns to the school board in March of 2009. There’s no record of this in the meeting minutes.

“They, first of all, said, ‘Well we can’t discuss this in an open forum because she’s a minor,'” Rutherford said.

They told Rutherford to request a meeting with the district administrator, Drew Johnson. She said Johnson was dismissive of her complaints.

“I got nowhere with him,” Rutherford said. News 8 left a voicemail for Johnson, but he did not respond to the request for comment.

She sent in the letter to the Department of Public Instruction. In a response on November 13, 2009, the DPI said the district acknowledges both restraint and seclusion were used with the student, neither of which were addressed in the student’s special education plan. A log or report of each incident was not maintained and staff members involved did not receive crisis intervention training.

A corrective action plan was issued by DPI. It required staff training on the appropriate use of seclusion and restraint in special education programs and crisis intervention training. A team meeting was needed to revise the student’s special education plan and create a logging system for incidents.

Documents show Amundson and district staff received the required training.

In a statement to News 8, current District Administrator Bob Smudde, who was not the superintendent at the time, said no individual discipline was issued by the district with respect to this complaint, including to Mr. Amundson. DPI did not take any action to revoke the license of any individual, including Mr. Amundson.

The full statement can be found below:

The Prairie du Chien School District did have a complaint filed against it at the Department of Public Instruction in regards to an inappropriate restraint. The DPI then issued a need for corrective action to the District, to which the District created a plan and executed it. The DPI then issued a letter to the District stating that the corrective actions taken by the District made the District in compliance with the procedures necessary in regard to seclusion and restraint of students.

No individual discipline was issued by the District with respect to this complaint, including to Mr. Amundson. DPI did not take any action to revoke the license of any individual, including Mr. Amundson. This was a District-wide initiative to insure proper protocol and training was provided by the District in situations that could result in student seclusion and restraint. The District continues to provide an environment that is safe for our students. We believe that we have acted consistent with this goal in our recent incident with Mr. Amundson.

On September 1, 2010, the DPI informed then District Administrator Drew Johnson that all noncompliance identified in the complaint decision had been corrected. The investigation was closed.

Rutherford eventually took her daughter out of the school and enrolled her at a school better equipped to teach students with disabilities. She said her child still suffers from anxiety because of the alleged incidents.

News 8 attempted to contact Aaron Amundson before this story was reported. He did not respond to the request for comment.