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School Blamed For Actions Of Autistic Teen Who Beat Teacher’s Assistant Over Video Game

The autistic Florida teenager who ruthlessly beat a teacher’s assistant unconscious over a video game was a “ticking time bomb,” his attorneys claimed in a petition filed against the school.

In the complaint, Brendan Depa’s legal team blamed the Flagler County School District for failing to meet the Depa’s needs in the weeks before the February 2023 attack that left the teaching assistant Joan Naydich with five broken ribs, a severe concussion and hearing loss.

Depa faces up to 30 years behind bars after pleading no contest to the attack caught on tape, which his attorneys claim only transpired because the district committed a series of violations resulting in “significant harm” to the disabled teen.

“The district should be held to account for its failures which have forever changed the trajectory of this young man’s life,” the petition states.

The petition lays out a clear history of Depa’s aggression, which stems from his diagnosed emotional behavioural disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, mood disorder, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

Matanzas High School administrations even determined Depa would be eligible for an individualized education plan, or IEP, which connected him with a board-certified behaviour analyst who also confirmed that he had tried to assault staff and students and was known to break property when upset.

Although he was disciplined for his aggressive and violent behaviour — which included spitting on a student, threatening a student, leaving class without permission and grabbing a female employee — Depa was not put in restrictive placement.

The bad behaviour went improperly unpunished until Depa — who stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs 270 pounds — clobbered Naydich in the school hallway, slamming her to the floor before kicking and punching her in the back and head more than a dozen times.

“The school did not seem to have any control over B.D. and B.D. was allowed to do whatever he wanted with little to no intervention or consequences,” the petition states, adding that the school had a responsibility to intervene.

“To allow B.D. to continue to escalate only led to the incident where the paraprofessional was harmed and B.D. was arrested,” the petition continues. “Had these issues been addressed in real time, B.D. would not have harmed the paraprofessional and would not have been arrested and facing significant time incarcerated.”

The teenager’s attorneys also claimed Naydich played a hand in her own brutal assault, which they say stemmed from a verbal fight in the classroom after she reprimanded him in front of his peers.

She then threatened to take away his Nintendo Switch, which she knew was a trigger for the then-17-year-old, they alleged, a detail she has repeatedly denied.

That’s when Depa spit on her, the petition states. Naydich stormed out of the classroom to report him for assault, prompting him to follow her and launch the attack.

“B.D. was a ticking time bomb,” the petition states.

Depa’s legal team — which also alleges the district failed to provide the teen with education while he was behind bars — is asking for “compensatory education” and payment for his placement in a behavioural therapeutic school for students with severe disorders, as well as attorney fees.

The teenager is due in court Wednesday for sentencing, where Depa could face up to 30 years in prison, a punishment Naydich has publicly supported.