Tuesday, May 15, 2001

A 17-year-old student at a special-education school in Prince Georges County died yesterday after a scuffle involving a staff member, police said.
A staff member tried to restrain Carlton Eugene Thomas, a resident at the privately run Raymond A. Rogers Jr. School, when the boy fell to the ground about 9:30 a.m. The boy had been involved in a fight with a number of other students before the staff member intervened.
Staff members administered CPR on the unconscious boy until paramedics arrived and found him in cardiac arrest. The boy was flown to Prince Georges Hospital Center, where he died yesterday afternoon.
Prince Georges County Police Chief John Farrell said yesterday he wanted to complete the investigation before commenting on whether charges will be filed.
The reason for the scuffle, the number of people involved and the method of restraint by the staff member were not known last night. The school is located at 13101 Croom Road in Upper Marlboro.
“By the time the day is out, Im convinced we will have a definitive picture of what happened,” Chief Farrell said.
Police also said they will wait for results of an autopsy, which will determine the cause of death.
Police said some students became disorderly when faculty members were handling a disciplinary matter at the school. Police said Carlton became involved in a physical confrontation with one of the staff members, when a staff member and the boy both fell to the floor.
The private facility serves teen-age boys who are emotionally disturbed and learning disabled. It is run by Edgemeade, a nonprofit organization that provides residential and day treatment for students.
Currently, there are 74 boys enrolled in grades seven through 12, school officials said.
School officials yesterday declined to comment on the incident, but did say they are saddened by the boys death.
“This loss is very hard for us,” said Elin Jones, a school spokesman. “Its like losing someone who was part of our family.”
The state Department of Education said yesterday there have been no major incidents at the school since it was approved by the state in 1963. The school has 38 staff members who are trained in CPR and techniques for physically restraining students, school officials said.
“The staff is well trained in working with at-risk … youth and their families,” said James Filipczak, Edgemeades executive director. “This incident has been unfortunate and emotionally devastating to the Edgemeade family, because we are here to help the children and to help their lives run smoothly.”
In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday afternoon, the boys mother, Sheila Bracey, said her son appeared to have been beaten.
“My boy had bruises all over his face,” she said after identifying her sons body at the hospital. “His eyes were all puffed up. My boy had been beaten.”
Ms. Bracey, who lives in District Heights, said her son had several run-ins with staff since he began attending the school in 1999. According to Prince Georges County school officials, the boy was placed at the school by the county school system with the agreement and approval of a parent.
The boy, who had a 2-year-old daughter, had a form of attention deficit disorder. He became a full-time resident there last year, Ms. Bracey said.
She said she planned to pull her son from the school on May 21 after an incident last Thursday where counselors were said to have used excessive force to restrain him.
She said police and school officials told her little about yesterdays incident.
“I am left without my son, and no one has answers,” she said.

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