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Teacher Broke Autistic Student's Arm While Restraining Him, Prosecutors Say

By Erica Demarest | October 28, 2016 11:49am | Updated on October 31, 2016 5:54am
 Kristyn Iwanski, 26, is charged with aggravated battery to a child.
Kristyn Iwanski, 26, is charged with aggravated battery to a child.
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DNAinfo; Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Prosecutors have charged a Near West Side teacher with breaking an autistic student's elbow.

Kristyn Iwanski, 26, was teaching at Easterseals Academy, 1939 W. 13th St., on Sep. 16 when she twisted a 12-year-old student's arm so far behind his back that the boy's elbow broke, prosecutors said.

The student in non-verbal, non-communicative and has "profound autism," Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said during a bond hearing Thursday.

The boy requires one-on-one attention, prosecutors said, and Iwanski was trained to occasionally physically restrain the student by holding his hands behind his back.

Iwanski did so about 1:30 p.m. Sep. 16 when the boy struck another student, Scaduto said. Iwanski wrapped the boy's arms behind his back and stood behind him as he tried to head-butt her. The incident was captured on camera, and school officials said this was the correct way to handle the situation, according to prosecutors.

But shortly after 2 p.m., the boy once more tried to hit someone, Scaduto said. That's when Iwanski was captured on camera pulling one of the boy's arms behind his back with such force that his chair moved, according to prosecutors.

Iwanski is accused of twisting the boy's arm upward and backward until it couldn't move anymore. When she eventually let go, Scaduto said, the boy ran away and sat in a corner.

Later that day, the boy's mother noticed he was favoring one arm, prosecutors said. She took him to an emergency room and learned his right elbow was broken.

The mother soon received a text message from Iwanski asking to talk on the phone, prosecutors said. According to Scaduto, the women had never met or spoken before.

Iwanski insisted nothing had happened at school and refused to tell the mother how her son's elbow could've been broken, prosecutors said.

School officials investigated, and Iwanski was suspended without pay, Scaduto said.

In a statement Thursday, Easterseals Director of Communications Kelly Anne Ohde said: "An allegation involving an injury to the arm of a student was made against an employee at Easterseals Academy in Chicago.  The employee was removed from the location and will have no contact with the students and clients at Easterseals. Our first priority is the care and safety of the individuals we serve and our employees. We are cooperating with authorities."

According to prosecutors, Iwanski has no prior criminal background. She is charged with aggravated battery to a child causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery to a child with permanent disability.

Iwanski holds a master's degree ins special education and had been with Easterseals Academy for three years prior to this incident, her attorney said.

Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas on Thursday set bail at $10,000.

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