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Judge hears Willmar teacher's maltreatment appeal

WILLMAR -- District Court Judge Michael J. Thompson took under advisement today an appeal by the Willmar teacher accused of maltreatment of a child.

After hearing arguments on Lisa Van Der Heiden's appeal of a decision by the Minnesota Department of Education that she committed maltreatment by denying a child access to the restroom, Thompson said he would issue a decision as soon he could get it completed.

During the hearing, Van Der Heiden's attorney Rebecca Hamblin argued that the decision, by the commissioner of education, was in error as a matter of law and that the decision was arbitrary and capricious.

Hamblin argued that Van Der Heiden was addressing the child's individual education plan, which included addressing the behavior of running from adults.

The child was stopped for running the hall and later wet her pants in a time-out room in Van Der Heiden's special education classroom at Lincoln Elementary School in Willmar.

Martha Casserly of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office argued that Van Der Heiden's decision to not allow the child to continue down a hallway to use the restroom, but to bring her into the classroom, was maltreatment.

See Wednesday's West Central Tribune for more.