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Update on Student Teacher Attack in Florida

By Janet Grace

Brendan Depa, 17, attacked a teacher’s aide on February 21st. He thought she had taken his Nintendo pocket game. She had not.

Believing her to be the culprit, he chased her down, with his 6’6”, 270lb running back frame, resulting in her being thrown to the ground, kicked, punched, beaten within an inch of her life.

Luckily, she survived the attack with several broken ribs, bruising and much luck that he didn’t end her life.

Brendan has three priors for aggravated attacks on others. It seems he cannot keep his anger in check. He’s been through the legal system, juvenile court, incarceration at a juvenile place and now, this.

A judge has deemed that he needs to be mentally evaluated to gauge if he is competent enough to stand trial. That is the smartest point I’ve heard in all of this.

In the meantime, the teachers aide has successfully gotten a restraining order against him to hopefully ensure her safety going forward.

Brendan threatened to kill the teachers aide as he was being taken into custody. This will not bode well for him no matter what the mental competency tests state.

My personal opinion is that this student did not belong in an unsupervised classroom with other students and teachers. He belonged in a special school with very few students in the class and a one on one teacher to assist him in obtaining an education while monitoring his mental well being, and any medications required to ensure his mental stability remains intact.

I have personally witnessed the difficulty that it currently is for parents with mountains of medical documentation and proof that their child is unable to control their actions in an unsupervised environment, to obtain this type of special needs schooling.

Unless there is a savvy attorney joining the parents in their quest, as there was in my family’s experience, these requests, pleas, and demands from parents who KNOW their children are capable of harming others, go unheeded or worse, are denied.

These are children who have no outward physical appearance of being anything, but the normal they are not. They have no business being mixed in with others who do not act out causing physical harm to others, as this young man has done time and time again.

Instead of Brendan receiving a special needs education from a professional well versed in calming agitated students in a small setting, graduating and moving on to a job he might be good at, or an online college he could excel at from the comfort of his home, his future is pretty much sealed and not in a good way.

No one wins here. The teachers aide will be looking over her shoulder for many years. This has changed her forever. It’s definitely going to change what’s left of this young man’s liberty for the remainder of his days and his parents, despite thinking they might be relieved that they don’t have to lock their bedroom doors; or his, upon retiring for the night as many parents have to do with special needs kids, they must be besides themselves that they didn’t have what it took to protect their child from others and others from him.

This happened in Florida. Before you roll your eyes at the state, know that these special needs programs all have different criteria depending upon which state one resides in. While there are stipulations in place to protect the rights of special needs children, they’ve also got to have stipulations whereon they are placed in the correct settings according to their mental capacities.

Having these schools in place and denying children from attending them for whatever reason, solves nothing for anyone.

In the meantime, Brendan and his teacher now become statistics. They’ll both be forgotten the moment you turn the page.

America, we’ve GOT to do better.

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