Middleboro school counselor arrested, charged with assault on 10-year-old student, police say

MIDDLEBORO, Mass. — A school adjustment counselor in Middleboro is accused of assaulting a 10-year-old student with an intellectual disability, police said.

Steven Adamec, 50, of Attleboro, was arraigned on assault charges in Wareham District court on Monday, after his arrest on Friday following an incident at READS Collaborative Academy, a Middleboro school specializing in the education of children with special needs, police said.

Adamec pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery on a child with injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threat to commit crime/solicitation of a crime and assault and battery on a person with intellectual disability. He was released on $540 bail.

On Friday, at 3:43 p.m., police responded to a call at READS Collaborative at 44 Bedford St., reporting that an employee had assaulted a student.

Adamec is now out of a job after an altercation between two students resulted in his arrest for assault and battery on a child.

According to court papers, the students began fighting around 2:45 p.m.

Adamec, whose job it was to de-escalate tense situations, stepped in and reprimanded one of the students, a 10-year-old autistic boy, according to court documents. That child began insulting Adamec verbally.

Adamec is accused of then dragging the student by the arm and pushing him into a door while escorting him out of a classroom, police said.

The destination was one of several ‘Take space’ rooms at the school, or padded areas that are used to help agitated students calm down. That’s where a staff member told police Adamec slapped the 10-year-old across the face after the boy continued assaulting him verbally.

That staffer also said she heard Adamec threaten to kill the child.

“Adamec then used his left hand to strike the student across the side of their face,” police said.

Adamec told police that he ‘hit’ the child in self-defense, by putting up his arms as the boy tried to kick him. Officers arrested Adamec at the school on Friday and took him to the police station for booking.

Outside the courtroom on Monday, the child’s mother, Michelle Melander, expressed shock that a faculty member she had known for a few years, and with whom she communicated on an almost daily basis, would be accused of engaging in violent behavior against her son.

“He works with my other child as the adjustment counselor,” Melander said. “I didn’t want to believe it until the report was ready today.”

Melander said students knew Adamec as ‘Mr. A.’

“I had faith in him,” Melander said. “And now I don’t even want to look at him.”

Melander said this alleged incident could prove a setback for her son who, until a few years ago, was non-verbal.

“My son is severely autistic,” Melander said. “He lost his Dad a year ago. He’s struggling as it is. And now this is more trauma. It’s not fair to him and justice needs to be served. No special needs teacher should be putting their hand on a child.”

In a letter to parent and guardians, READS Collaborative Executive Director Dina Medeiros said, “The READS staff member involved in this incident no longer works for READS Collaborative as of November 17.”

“We are fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Medeiros said. “I want to assure you that this individual’s actions are not representative of the caring and compassionate READS staff. I am unable to discuss anything further at this time, but did want to acknowledge that there was an incident that was appropriately addressed.”

Adamec is due back in court on Jan. 24.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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