Autistic child denied transfer to Tishomingo County school

IUKA – The Tishomingo County school board has denied a petition by Deanna Thacker to permit her son to attend the Burnsville school.
Ryan Thacker, a 6-year-old who was diagnosed with a mild form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, had previously attended Hills Chapel School in the Prentiss County School District.
Deanna Thacker said her son had been mistreated at Hills Chapel through physical restraint and threatened with a paddle, among other things, before she removed him.
As part of a federal lawsuit, Deanna Thacker asked for a temporary restraining order to let Ryan attend the Burnsville school in Tishomingo County, which is about the same distance from her home as Hills Chapel.
U.S. District Judge Michael Mills denied her request and said the Tishomingo County School District needed to consider the transfer request before any further federal court action should proceed.
“The school board considered the request and turned down his transfer request,” said Tishomingo County Superintendent Malcolm Kuykendall.
Before the unanimous vote Monday, Kuykendall said board members “agreed that Ryan was getting a proper education in Prentiss County, and they wanted the child.”
The decision came after Prentiss County officials reported to the Tishomingo County board what they were doing to educate the child, Kuykendall said.
Tishomingo County’s decision did not reflect the spirit of what Mills said in court – that he wanted the best interests of the child to be a priority, said Ripley attorney Joseph Murray, who represents the Thackers.
“I’ve never seen a school board so stubborn,” Murray said. “Even the Hills Chapel principal said if what is said happened to Ryan happened to her own kids, she wouldn’t send them back to the school.”
The family is exploring their options, Murray said, including whether to ask for another temporary restraining order or to home-school Ryan.
Further legal action could come by the end of this week, he said.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or


Lena Mitchell/Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio