LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Gia Blessing is a fourth-grader who is autistic and speaks a few words. Her parents say the Clark County School District isn’t being truthful about what happened while Gia was on a CCSD school bus on May 2.
There’s video of an interaction with an older child.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Marianne Lanuti, attorney for Gia Blessing’s family, asked, “Did he hit her?”
The response from Jennifer Vobis, CCSD director of transportation: “I did not see that.”
But Michael Brickner, Gia’s father, told us he was confident that Gia was hit.
The family is now fighting CCSD for permission to send Gia to school with angel sense — a listening device. The school district argues it violates other students’ privacy.
Gia’s parents are also asking for better communication from school staff, and more transparency.
CCSD allowed the family and their attorney to view the video once before this due process hearing, but has never provided a copy.
District officials say they planned to play a version of the video with other students’ identities redacted at today’s due process hearing, now in its third day. But CCSD pointed to technical difficulties.
“When the program was downloaded and the video was run, the redaction was not taking place,” said Daniel Ebihara, attorney for the school district.
Lanuti replied, “I have something to say. They have had this video since May 2 and they have had many, many opportunities. May 2. They’re the fifth largest school district.”
The hearing master who will ultimately make a ruling in Gia’s case decided the video would be played, but our camera could not record it.
Vanessa Murphy: If this is a public hearing, why can’t we stay and watch this?
Hearing master: At this point the video is a private and sealed part of the records.
The video was played, but anyone who was not considered a party to the hearing was asked to leave
“This kind of shenanigans is exactly why … the mistrust,” Lanuti said.
The I-Team has previously obtained video from lawsuits filed against the district and has taken care to blur students’ faces.
An example was shown to the hearing master on Wednesday.
Murphy: So we can’t film it and blur the other people?
Lanuti: They can do that. It’s an easy program. It’s an easy program.
Hearing master: You leave me in the position … If they can do that, how come they can’t?
While the school district’s attorney says staff will try to redact the video again, the hearing was set to continue for a fourth day on Thursday.
Vanessa also reported on the first day of the hearing for Gia Blessing on Monday, as well as a press conference held by parents of other students with special needs who claim their children have been mistreated in school.
On Tuesday, a CCSD spokesman sent a statement that reads in part: “CCSD is concerned about any possibility of severe incidents, especially among our most vulnerable populations.”