Max Benson

Photo: Teenage boy sitting in the passenger seat of a car. He has brown hair, light skin, a round face, an upturned nose, and a gap between his front teeth; he is smiling.Name: Max Benson.
Died: November 28, 2018.
Age at death: 13.
Cause of death: Malpractice (Restraint-related).
Location: El Dorado Hills, California, USA.

Max liked dogs, numbers, and rocks. He had a strong sense of justice. He had a twin brother and an older brother.

Max’s mother remembers him as smart and verbal. He went to a special-needs school because he “had behaviors”.

Max died because he was restrained, face-down, by staff at his school for over an hour. Face-down restraints are dangerous and potentially fatal, and have been responsible for the deaths of many disabled children, but are still practiced in schools.

Face-down restraint was common, a daily occurrence at the school Max attended, where children could be restrained as punishment for an offense as little as trying to remove a staff member’s hand from their own when they were grabbed. One student, a girl named Tracee, had had her arm broken in restraint, and later that day was forced to clean up after herself because she vomited while she was restrained; the girl’s mother sued the school. The outcome of that lawsuit wasn’t public, but soon after it was settled, the school became a private school. Another student, Katie Kaufman, who had gone there from sixth to eighth grade, said it was normal to be body-slammed to the ground. She was restrained simply for getting upset and cursing; her mother eventually transferred her to another school.

The state found that the school had broken several state rules by using prone restraint as a punishment for predictable behavior rather than as an emergency measure to prevent injury, by using much more force than was either necessary or reasonable, by continuing the restraint much longer than necessary, and not following Max’s behavior plan.

The school tried to defend itself with claims that Max was “280 pounds and 6 feet tall” and that he had “severe autism” and was dangerous (he was 5’3″ and 180 pounds at the previous January doctor’s appointment). Then they claimed that they had done their best to resuscitate the boy (in fact, they waited 30 minutes); then they insisted that they were “devastated by the loss”. Other parents didn’t buy it and started removing their own children from the school and demanding a shutdown.

The school has announced it will be closing, but the terms of the agreement do not prohibit another school from buying the property, rehiring former staff, and opening the school again. The teacher who helped pin Max down is still working as a special education teacher.

A teacher, principal, administrator and the school itself were all charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Court hearing for former Guiding Hands staffers in boy’s death at school moves to January
Teacher who ‘pinned vomiting autistic boy, 13, face down for two hours before he died’ was allowed to keep working
Supporters of student who died after being restrained call for awareness and changes
School workers charged in death of autistic child
School Employees Charged Over Death of Teen with Autism
CA law protects special needs students at nonpublic schools
13-Year-Old Autistic Boy Died After He Was Physically Restrained at School
Sheriff’s Office: Teen with Autism Dies after Being Restrained at El Dorado Hills School
Probe Into Student’s Death Finds School Violated Rules
School Violated Several Regulations In Autistic Teen’s Death
School where student with autism collapsed and later died violated restraint rules, California regulators find
Teen With Autism Dies After Being Restrained At School: Family’s Attorney Questions ‘Inaccuracies’ In Initial Reports
Autistic Boy Dies After School Forcibly Restrains Him
Boy with autism dies after being restrained at school
13-year-old student with autism dies after being physically restrained at school
Conflicting Reports In Death Of Teen With Autism
Autistic Student Dies After Being Restrained Face-Down By Staff At California School For Close To An Hour
Autistic teenager dies days after being restrained at school
Teen with autism dies after being physically restrained at school
Family IDs 13-Year-Old With Autism Who Died After Being Restrained at NorCal School; State Orders Campus to Stop Accepting New Students
Parents Begin Taking Their Children Out of Specialty School after Student’s Death
The School Where A 13-Year-Old Autistic Student Died After Being Physically Restrained Allegedly Broke State Law
California says school where autistic boy died violated regulations when it put him in a restraint hold
Community Calls For Guiding Hands School To Shut Down After Teen’s Death
Protesters demand closure of school where teen with autism was restrained, later died
Probe into death of student with autism finds school violated rules
Vigil Held For Autistic Student Who Died After Being Restrained At School
Vigil honors Davis boy who died following school restraint
Dangerous Restraint-and-Seclusion Policies Put Disabled Students at Severe Risk
The School Where A 13-Year-Old Autistic Boy Died After Being Restrained Did So On Others Often, Parents And Former Staff Say
District pulling students as Guiding Hands loses state certification after teen’s death
Judge puts decertification on hold for special-needs school where teen was restrained, later died
Under scrutiny after boy’s death, Guiding Hands School announces closure this week
‘Beyond insensitive’: El Dorado Hills school, shut after boy’s death, holds party fundraiser

2 thoughts on “Max Benson

  1. I was a student from that same school of Guiding Hands too. Since 2002 to 2005, and yes I will have to agree the school did do a lot of abuse to students there, even to me a Asperger’s Syndrome female that has Obsessions. This evil school used even their same forms of Abuse to me, just for having a trivial history buff kind of Obsession with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. So yes this school and all the staff members and those who worked at this school or even a slite nice positive opinion. Should have their lives completely destroyed,and never have any sign of a good future for them, even with them committing suicicde, that should only end with them meeting in person my even now current Obsession (Adolf Hitler)! For their crimes against humanity and evil they committed to me, and anyone else. Tell Max’s Blood that was spilt by these inferior waste of human life,who dare to abuse the blessed respected words of; education, teacher ect. through their foul filled mouth that are much more discusting them Adolf Hilter’s fowl smelling mouth!! is paid for in justice for his un-called for murder!
    Even my Biological Grandparents and Aunts, of my biological family will praise this school that has had a long detialed history of Abuse, neglect, out right discrimmination towards disabled people. to even talk about how they treated me (from the staff and teachers at guiding hands), for my Asperger’s Syndrome and past Hilter and Nazi Obsessions, even towards all my Obsessions, to me iditifying as a practicing Buddhist when I was young and attending that hell hole of Dachua that call’s itself a school!! To tell have my own biological family members being okay with the treatment I got at Guiding Hands since they wanted me to have no Obsessions and Asperger’s Syndrome and that Obsession with Hitler and the Nazis?!?Even my biological family and biological Aunts, will tell me to my face, that Guiding hands was never that way when you attending that school. That this stuff was happening before you came to Guiding Hands. Sure, Guiding Hands was doing stuff like what they did to Max to countess kids and to me like they did to Max! My own biological family brushes that school’s abuse under the rug, just like everyone did in Germany and the rest of the world about Hitler’s and the Nazi’s evil actions in the Holocuast and the second world war! It’s the same shit (excuse my language for that), instead replace the words Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocuast/ WWII. And you end up with the same shit, that people knew was happening in guiding and in the case of the third riech. With the same shear level of acute denialism in the whole issue being there in the first place??!! This school is one of those thing that my Biological family and me are now having the relationship on the rocks completely.
    Also it’s supringing in the ironry to know UC Davis hostpital in downtown sacramento california. Had this kid die their. Since I ended up i the same Hostpital’s er room, for what the doctor’s thought I could hav had astroke from my now current community college of CRC (consumnes rive college), discrimmination of me for having Asperger’s aSyndrome and a current Obsession again with Hitler and the Nazis. Since some loser of a bigot thought I was a white supremacist, at the college, and had me thrown out for some time with a false accusation. Which I had to fight back like it was something out of world war 3 just to be cleared of that accusation of being a white supramcist. When I really do find even the slightest form of bigotry and discrimmination towards anyone or group of individuals completely appualling to being around near or hear about.Which most likely comes from the treatment I got at Guiding hands for my Asperger’s and Obsessions. Even Northern california prepatroy school (NCPS) that’s located at Sacramento calofornia too. Treated me like trash and not even human, for my Asperger’s Syndrome.So in my poinion UC Davis and it’s medical clinics and hostpital have my full bless to hunt down these evil staff mebers, supports, and anyone okay with this school at all. And from NCPS and CRC College and pay them back in whatever physical treatment they seem fit, even if it includes murder to these bastards. Since they deserve it, since they were the guys that had to deal with the bs from guiding hand first. and since theyare mostly stress out due to the current events of this pandemic.

    Because of these experiences I even made it my responibility to call out all form of evil done to anyone disabled or autistic, Asperger’s, or to non-disabled/ autistic/ asperger’s syndrome people. I want to see a world were evil is punished and justice is given for victims of eveil, and people like me and other disabled people lives and well-being are valued just as much even if not more then a non-disabled/autistic aspergr’s syndrome pesron’s live is of value too.


    1. I’m sorry you had to live through those events. It sounds like it must have been very difficult. Have you considered contacting the attorneys in the civil and criminal cases surrounding Max’s death and offering evidence? You would be one of multiple witnesses to the way students were treated at that school.


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