Guiding Hands School Executive Director Cindy Keller, Principal Staranne Meyers and special education teacher Kimberly Wohlwend each face a charge of felony involuntary manslaughter, according to a Tuesday news release from the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.
They are scheduled to be arraigned late Wednesday afternoon. CNN is trying to contact the staffers and their attorneys.
Guiding Hands School Inc., which owned the now-closed private alternative school in El Dorado Hills, will also be charged with a count of felony involuntary manslaughter, according to the news release.
The restraint left the boy unresponsive and he later died at University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, officials said.
There was no appearance “of foul play or criminal intent,” the sheriff’s office said at the time.
Guiding Hands School, which served students with disabilities, said only that staff members used “a nationally recognized behavior management protocol” during the incident — an approach the state Department of Education criticized.
According to the prosecutor’s office, it was Wohlwend, the special ed teacher, who used a “prone restraint” on the teen, meaning she held him face-down on the ground.
School staffers underwent annual de-escalation training, a source familiar with school policy told CNN in December, and the last resort was to put a student in a “neutral position.”
“Current evidence supports a finding that GHS staff’s actions were harmful to the health, welfare and safety of an individual with exceptional needs,” the department said in December following its investigation.
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge issued a brief stay in the decision to revoke the school’s certification, but the school a few days later notified the Department of Education that it “would retire (its) certification,” effective January 25.
“Guiding Hands’ refusal to take responsibility for its actions is disheartening. It would be an injustice to the families we serve if we did not do everything within our authority to ensure that students are placed in an environment where their safety is the number one priority of those who have been entrusted with their care.”
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Jennifer Selva and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.