School resource officer fired for improper conduct with child with autism

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A school resource deputy was fired for improper conduct with an autistic student at Osceola Middle School.

According to Administrative Investigation Division investigators, the investigation started after the mother of a 13-year-old boy with autism came forward with audio of an interaction her son had with his school’s resource officer.

Megan Dowdy says she noticed her son's behavior had been deteriorating so she sent him to school wearing a microphone.

“When I would drive him to school in the morning… he would act very stressed out and with high anxiety,” Dowdy told FOX 13 News.

What she heard on the tape was nothing short of shocking.

It started when school resource Deputy Ural Darling, 57, was called to deal with a student, Dowdy’s son had thrown a book at his teacher.

Dowdy’s son has a cognitive level of a first-grader and his communication skills were that of a kindergartener. Without possibly being able to speak fully for himself, his audio recorder caught what happened next, without Darling's knowledge.

Darling took the boy to the behavior specialist's office. Surveillance video from inside the school shows Darling twirling handcuffs as he walks with the boy and another woman down the hallway.

Once in the behavior specialist’s office, Darling yelled at the child, taunting the boy with his handcuffs.

Investigators say Darling then made the child hold a stack of books out in front of him and told the child not to put the books down until Darling instructed him to do so.

At one point, investigators say Darling threatened to Baker Act the child and said he was going to take the child to the “mental hospital.”

He then told the child they would keep him there “forever.” Investigators say Darling kept this up for about 20 minutes before the child's mother came to the school to pick him up.

Dowdy gave the recording to investigators along with a complaint about Darling. The investigation found that Darling’s conduct was improper.

“He should have never been around kids in the first place,” Dowdy said. “I trusted these people to do the right thing.”

The school resource deputy, Ural Darling, 57, was hired by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in 1995.