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DOWNTOWN: APS spends nearly $700K fighting abuse claim | News

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DOWNTOWN: APS spends nearly $700K fighting abuse claim
News, Schools
DOWNTOWN: APS spends nearly $700K fighting abuse claim

ATLANTA -- While the Atlanta Public School system was fighting accusations of widespread cheating, attorneys for the district were spending a tremendous amount of time and taxpayer money on another front, fighting an Atlanta family whose autistic son a judge had ruled, was abused at school.

RELATED: Autistic student abused at school

It was more than two years ago when 11Alive first told you about 11-year-old Stefan Ferrari. His mother became a hero to special needs families because of what she did.

She sewed a microphone into her son's shirt and sent him to school, and it recorded how her son received unexplained injuries, bruises the ran the length of his thighs, and scratch marks.

On the audio, adult voices ridiculing the boy, talking about the size of a man's genitals, and telling the boy he was going to get a "quiet hit."

Stefan's teacher denied she was the one who hit him, but the judge in the case ruled an adult at the school had abused Stefan.

Atlanta school officials who had refused to talk to 11Alive before the story aired.  But they were ready to express their outrage the very next day, including former Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine who told 11Alive she was "outraged, angry, horrified," and that the Ferrari family "had been treated badly." Augustine said the district was demanding "immediate action be taken."

And Atlanta Schools did take action. Their attorneys appealed the decision. For two years Atlanta Schools fought the Ferraris, getting the audio tape thrown out, finally mediating this summer. The district has settled with the Ferraris and that settlement is confidential.

But 11Alive does know one number, how much Atlanta Schools paid in legal fees to its attorneys -- $698,287.00.

When the story first aired, then Governor Sonny Perdue got involved. With the help of Georgia's Child Advocate he created a working group whose mission was to change the way suspected abuse was reported in schools. To date, there have been no changes that 11 Alive could find.

If there is one piece of good news it's that the Ferraris say Stefan is thriving and is getting an incredible education somewhere else.

News, Schools