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Student accused of viciously beating aide in viral video blames school in new lawsuit: 'Ticking time bomb'

The Florida high-school student with autism accused of violently attacking a teacher’s aide over a Nintendo game has filed a stunning lawsuit against the school district, accusing it of failing to make interventions to address his bad behavior even though he was said to be a “ticking time bomb.”

Brendan Depa, 18, has filed a lawsuit against Flagler County Public Schools, accusing the district of failing to meet his needs in the lead-up to the shocking February 21 incident that was caught on video and went viral.

Depa was 17 when he allegedly attacked teacher’s aide Joan Naydich at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast. Surveillance video released by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office allegedly shows the 6-foot-6, 270-pound student running up to the teacher’s aide, pushing her to the ground, and then continuing to punch and kick her.


The teacher’s aide is seen on the ground for several minutes before getting up with the help of others.

Naydich told FOX 35 Orlando she had suffered five broken ribs, a severe concussion, loss of hearing in one of her ears and other issues as a result of the beating. 

The incident was sparked after Depa was refused permission to use a Nintendo Switch console. 

The complaint alleges that the district failed to address Depa’s disabilities through a proper behavioral plan on multiple occasions, ultimately leading to the attack.

“The district should be held to account for its failures which have forever changed the trajectory of this young man’s life,” a portion of the lawsuit reads. 

It says that he has a history of trauma and mental health issues, along with several disabilities that impact him in school settings.

“[Depa] is smart, but he has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and has communication deficits that were not properly addressed. His explosive nature was also ignored and his need for social and pragmatic language interventions were not sufficiently addressed,” the lawsuit reads. 

The complaint alleges that the school ignored Depa’s need for social and “pragmatic language interventions” and should have provided him with direct instructions on how to problem-solve and express himself.

For instance, he spat at a student and verbally threatened another by saying that the student should die. He also said he should have shot a student. The lawsuit argues that the school had not properly dealt with those incidents.


Florida Teacher's aide

“Had these issues been addressed in real-time, [Depa] would not have harmed the paraprofessional and would not have been arrested and facing significant time incarcerated,” the complaint reads. 

The suit alleges that a teacher’s aide and Depa exchanged words and that the student was then reprimanded in front of his peers, eventually being punished by being denied the Nintendo though other students were allowed theirs.

The school, staff and district knew that the Nintendo, and its use on the school campus was a “trigger for escalating behaviors,” prompting Depa to spit on Naydich, according to the filing. 

When Naydic stormed out of the classroom to report him for assault, Depa followed her and launched his vicious attack.

The teen has filed a request for a due process hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It asks for a determination that Flagler County Public Schools’ actions before and after February 2023 led to the violent incident. 

A spokesperson for Flagler Schools tells Fox 35 Orlando that the district is not commenting on the complaint. 

Depa, who is being charged as an adult, pleaded no contest late last year to a first-degree felony aggravated battery on an elected official or education employee charge that could be punishable by up to 30 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for May 1, Fox 35 reports.

Brendan Depa

Naydich has denied taking the Nintendo Switch away from Depa and that he was actually angry because another staff member would not allow him to play it. 

As well as physical injuries, Naydich says she has faced financial and emotional hurdles since the attack.  

“Unfortunately, a lot of my injuries that are not visible I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” Naydich previously told FOX 35 Orlando, referring to slowed speech, issues with patience and “difficulty with what she considers routine cognitive functions.”

“Everybody that knows me or knew me [before the attack] knows that I’m a totally different person now. My whole life was just turned upside down.” 

Naydich was granted a permanent injunction for protection against repeated violence against Depa in March 2023.

Court documents obtained by Fox News Digital show that Depa has had three prior misdemeanor battery charges, in March 2019, April 2019 and June 2019. All the misdemeanor charges stem from the 13th Judicial Circuit, which is located in Hillsborough County.

For those charges, court records show that Depa completed a program within the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Fox News’ Pilar Aris and Adam Sabes contributed to this report.

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