The Florida teacher who was filmed being knocked unconscious by a 270-pound student last year refused to support a lighter sentence for the teen.
Joan Naydich, 58, of Matanzas High School, made the statement Friday as activists continue to fight for a lighter sentence for autistic high school student, 18-year-old Brendan Depa
The attack occurred in February at Matanzas High School when another teacher confiscated the 6-foot-tall student's Nintendo Switch.
Then seventeen, Depa – realizing that it was Naydich who had betrayed the teacher – was filmed chasing the teacher's assistant through the hallway before pushing her to the ground and beating her into unconsciousness.
The footage quickly shocked much of the nation and is expected to be used as evidence when Depa goes on trial this month. He will be tried as an adult, with penalties ranging from probation to 30 years in prison.
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Joan Naydich, a 58-year-old teacher who was filmed being beaten unconscious by an autistic student early last year, said in an interview this week that she wants him to receive the maximum number of years possible when he is sentenced The trial will take place at the end of the month. Naydich is seen here with her own son
Brendan Depa, now 18 but then 17, carried out the attack on the teacher's assistant after she told his lead teacher that he had distracted other students by using an electronic gaming device on school grounds. He has been behind bars for almost a year and will be in court on January 31st
In comments to the New York Post, a still traumatized Naydich, who suffered five broken ribs after the attack, explained why she wants the high school student to receive the maximum sentence.
“He definitely needs to go to prison,” Naydich told the newspaper on Friday, pointing out that she lost her income, health insurance and benefits after she was inexplicably placed on unpaid leave in the wake of the still-viral attack .
“He needs to go to prison for what he did to me,” she continued. “Every day I wake up I’m in some kind of prison.”
The longtime Flagler County School District employee, who was placed on unpaid leave in August, continued to claim that Depa's supporters, including his adoptive mother, had exaggerated his restrictions.
“He's not autistic like everyone thinks,” she said, arguing the attack was premeditated and the result of a conspiracy by the hulking teenager.
“You are painting a picture of him that he cannot imagine,” she continues, as Depa remains locked up ahead of his upcoming trial on January 31.
“He’s working on his GED in prison and he’s almost there,” she said. “His mother painted a picture of him not being able to put on socks.”
The attack occurred in February at Matanzas High School after Naydich confiscated the 6-foot-2 student's Nintendo Switch
The mother of a 6ft tall autistic teenager has claimed prison is a “death sentence” for her son
In comments to the New York Post, a still traumatized Naydich – seen here after suffering five broken ribs as a result of the attack – explained why she wants the high school student to receive the maximum sentence.
“He definitely needs to go to prison,” Naydich told the newspaper on Friday, noting that she lost her income, health insurance and benefits after being placed on leave as a result of the attack
“He needs to go to prison for what he did to me,” she continued. “I sit in a kind of prison every day when I wake up”
Naydich claims her speech has slowed and she now has difficulty with routine cognitive functions, claiming the boy knew what he was doing
While the claim is exaggerated, it is not far off.
Since the attack, Leanne Depa has vehemently maintained that her son's actions were not his own fault, but the school district's – since his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) specifically stated that he should not have had an electronic device at the time.
That's because the boy would likely be angry if such an item were taken away from him – a prediction that unfortunately came true last February 21st
The Tampa child therapist made her case in numerous television spots and media interviews, and also spoke to the Post where she made clear her concerns about the Flagler County Prosecutor's Office's portrayal of the incident.
“This should never have been a criminal case,” she argued, claiming the boy’s actions were a direct result of his disabilities and staff’s failure to follow his school-approved plan.
“I don’t blame Joan,” she continued, referring to the victim who has fought vehemently for a maximum sentence since day one.
Leanne classified the crime as a “systemic problem” and said: “I in no way blame Joan for what happened. “I blame the district.
“There are not enough resources and there is a shortage of paraprofessionals.”
Since the attack, Leanne Depa – seen here in one of the many TV spots defending her son – has vehemently claimed that his actions were not his fault, but the district's – since his Individualized Education Plan specifically stated that he should not have an electronic device with him should have the time
That's because the teen would likely be angry if such an item was taken away from him – a prediction that unfortunately came true last February 21 when the attack took place
The 58-year-old met Depa in January 2022 when she began supporting his primary school teacher. She learned that he was adopted as a young child before being sent to a group home
Leanne called a lengthy prison sentence a “death sentence” for her son, who has long-suffering anger issues, and was supported by countless activists in her repeated calls for clemency.
She adopted Depa when he was just six months old, but only started giving him medication a few years ago – after several manic outbursts.
But the new substances only made his condition worse, she said, telling the Post that the then 14-year-old's behavior quickly became a nightmare.
This led Leanne to admit him to an autism hospital in South Carolina in late 2019, where he was finally released about a year later.
However, Depa noted the teenager's unpredictable behavior and said she was hesitant to bring him back home because her husband had serious heart problems at the time and he was at particular risk if the teenager ever freaked out.
That led them to remove him from a Palm Coast group home in November 2020, where he remained for more than a year until the home decided to send Depa to a traditional public high school.
Leanne said she disagreed with the decision but the home had the final say.
During the 2022 school year, Depa was a student at Matanzas High School and was assigned to a special class.
School officials and Depa's parents then put together a specific educational plan for the teenager, which included working with him as an assistant professional in addition to his primary teacher.
The Rhode Island native, pictured with her two children, moved to Palm Coast and worked in the Flagler County School District beginning in 2003. She claims she still bears physical and mental scars from the attack
Depa faces a prison sentence of up to 30 years. His sentencing will take place on January 31st
Naydich filled that position in February 2022, about a year before the filmed attack.
However, her first encounter with Depa took place in January 2022, when she said she became clearly aware that he was troubled.
“He would try to intimidate,” she told the Post. “But this school year it never got to the point where he became violent. “It was only verbal.”
She learned that Depa was particularly fond of playing video games and was sensitive to criticism of his performance in the classroom, often accusing her of “spying” on his school record.
On the day of the attack, the teenager was annoyed that he had to wait for other students to arrive before going to the cafeteria for breakfast. He told Naydich that he hadn't had dinner the night before.
After lunch, Depa went to his regular remedial class, where his main teacher generally allowed him to use his Nintendo Switch if he finished his work.
Naydich accompanied him to his next class, where there was a substitute. Depa pulled out his gaming console, which distracted some of the other students and caused them to demand that he put it away.
The teenager obeyed, but got it again towards the end of the period.
Naydich then texted his elementary school teacher and told her that it would be wise for Depa not to bring the console to the same class in the future.
“Unfortunately, I will carry many of my invisible injuries for the rest of my life,” Naydich recently explained. “I have no idea what closure looks like right now. 'I just want to be whole again'
When Depa returned to his regular classroom, he found that Naydich had informed the teacher about what had happened in the previous class when she raised the issue and became angry.
“That’s when he started insulting me,” Naydich said. “Slut. W**re. This and that.'
She grabbed her backpack and sweatshirt and prepared to leave the room when “the energy in there changed.”
Depa spat in her face as she walked to the door. When she turned to open it, he knocked her unconscious.
Nearly a year later, she still bears the physical and mental scars of the attack. Her speech is slowed and she often has problems with routine cognitive functions.
Doctors are trying to diagnose some of her symptoms.
“Unfortunately, I will carry many of my invisible injuries for the rest of my life,” Naydich explained.
“I have no idea what closure looks like right now. 'I just want to be whole again.'
Of her attacker, she said: “I want to make sure he can't walk the streets freely.”
Depa faces a prison sentence of up to 30 years. His sentencing will take place on January 31st.