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Cobb educator fired for “forcefully” touching special ed student

Cobb County school officials recently fired a paraprofessional they say forcefully grabbed a special education student by the neck in a school gymnasium.

The incident occurred inside the Osborne High School gym on Aug. 24. The employee, Richard D. Laseter, 65, was fired on Sept. 6.

“The recording showed you forcefully placed your hands around the special education student’s neck after he continued to remove his hand from the wheel chair that you were both pushing as you previously instructed him to do,” Deputy Superintendent John Adams wrote Laseter. “It was also noted you were yelling at the student during the incident.”

The video, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the Georgia Open Records Act, showed Laseter’s hands around the boy for about 10 seconds.

Laseter said he put his hands on the student’s chin, according to an investigative file. Laseter’s attorney, Tristan Morrison, told the AJC Thursday his client wasn’t trying to harm the student and said he wasn’t injured. Morrison said Laseter had recently returned to work after being injured at school by a student.

“The point was to bring his eyes up so Rick could speak with him,” Morrison said.

Cobb officials referred the case to the state’s Professional Standards Commission, which agreed the school district’s actions against Laseter was appropriate.

Laseter had been working in Cobb since August 2014. He worked for the district from 1994-1997.

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