Wednesday, December 01, 2004

AP Wire | 12/01/2004 | Committee: Mental disorder did not cause cake incident

Committee: Mental disorder did not cause cake incident

Associated Press

MARIETTA, Ga. - One of two girls accused of making a cake tainted with bleach and other substances and serving it to classmates cannot blame her actions on an autism-related condition, a school committee has ruled.

The girl's - both 13 - face charges including aggravated assault for allegedly baking a cornbread cake made with bleach, glue, Tabasco sauce and other substances that was given to students at East Cobb Middle School last month.

About a dozen students got sick after eating the cake.

The father of one of the girls has said she suffers from Asperger's syndrome, an autism-related condition characterized by deficiencies in social and communication skills.

But a committee of teachers, counselors and administrators at the school met privately Tuesday and ruled against the father's theory, Cobb County school spokesman Jay Dillon said. The committee said there was never an official diagnosis.

The district has a letter from a school psychologist saying the syndrome is simply "suspected," Dillon said. In order to qualify for a special education program, more evidence is needed.

Once her condition is diagnosed, the school district will be able to decide where to place her and what punishment is appropriate, the girl's father said.

The girl's father said he disagreed with the ruling but expected it. If staff at the school agreed that Asperger's syndrome caused the girl's actions, then they would have admitted they could have prevented it by placing her in a special environment, the father said.

"The people who made the decisions about my daughter's place and environment are the ones who made the decision today," he said. "If they found otherwise, they would be admitting they made a mistake."

The other 13-year-old has been released to the custody of her parents, is under house arrest and has been suspended from East Cobb Middle School.

The girl believed to suffer from Asperger's syndrome, whom the school principal testified is the one who actually encouraged other children to eat the cake, is still in custody.

A trial date for both girls is set for Feb. 8.
AP Wire | 12/01/2004 | Committee: Mental disorder did not cause cake incident