Suit says school employee burst disabled student’s eardrum

ST. JOSEPH | A lawsuit accuses a former St. Joseph School District employee of bursting the eardrum of a mentally disabled student with a basketball pump.

The suit said former paraprofessional Courtney Rollett stuck the pump’s needle in the student’s ear, puncturing the eardrum. Rollett denied the allegation Monday.

The lawsuit said Rollett took the action after the “highly disabled 15-year-old, mentally handicapped, speech impaired, special needs student” had fallen fell asleep at a desk.

Calling the Sept. 11, 2007, incident “unfortunate,” district human resources director Doug Flowers said he could not comment on specifics in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the school district knew that the alternative school class was understaffed and was left alone with inexperienced, untrained staff.