• Judge sides with teacher accused of using hot sauce to discipline autistic student


    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV found out a judge has sided with an Osceola County teacher who is accused of using hot sauce to discipline an autistic student.

    Lillian Gomez was fired earlier this year after district officials said she soaked Play-Doh and crayons in hot sauce and force-fed them to a student.

    A document obtained by WFTV shows the school district spent $50,000 on lawyers fighting to keep Gomez out of the classroom.

    Gomez has not been back to Sunrise Elementary since officials found out about the incident last October.

    The teacher has been fighting to get her job back. WFTV was there in June when she took her case before a judge.

    On Friday a judge issued an order recommending the district reinstate her job.

    Parents WFTV talked to can't believe it.

    "That's kind of ridiculous," said Todd Cinetti."Maybe she shouldn't work with children. Maybe she should find another career."

    Gomez denies ever force-feeding the student and said she only used the hot sauce to prevent him from eating the crayons.

    Officials said she first got jumbo-sized crayons, put them in a cup, then poured hot sauce over them and she later moved them to a bag and labeled it with the student's name, and let the crayons sit for days.

    A judge found that while her behavior was inappropriate, the district didn't prove she was trying to punish the student.

    Gomez's lawyer agrees.

    "I think she made a bad judgment in the way she went about it but her purpose was good," said attorney Thomas Egan.

    The judge ordered the teacher won't get any back pay, but the final decision about what happens is up to the school board.

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