Teacher’s Aide Beaten by Giant 6-Foot-6 Student Says She’s on Unpaid Leave Struggling with Cognitive Problems, Finances

A teacher’s aide who was brutally pummeled by a then-17-year-old student over his Nintendo Switch console in February said she is jobless and has permanent physical damage from the incident.

Graphic surveillance video shows a 6-foot-6-inch student throwing Joan Naydich, 58, to the ground, then punching and kicking her as she lays unconscious on the floor.

After he was handcuffed by police, the high schooler reportedly spit on the severely injured Naydich and threatened to kill her before continuing down the hallway, per the Daytona News-Journal.


“Everybody who knows me — or knew me then — knows I’m a totally different person now,” she told Orlando station FOX 35. “My whole life was just turned upside down.”

The attack left Naydich with a severe concussion, a partial loss of hearing, and five broken ribs. She’s visited a neurologist, psychiatrist, and an orthopedic doctor, who all prescribed various medications.

Other neurological issues are more difficult to treat.

“Unfortunately, a lot of my injuries that are not visible, I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” she said.

Naydich said she applied for a leave of absence, and that she is without income and benefits for the first time in nearly two decades.

The mother-of-two added that her worker’s compensation was far from ideal and forced her to put off seeing certain doctors for months.


“Additionally, we understand the worker’s compensation process is daunting. We have people in the district who can work with any employee to navigate this process,” Wheeler added.

Naydich has yet to watch the video of the attack herself, even after it garnered nationwide media attention, and is frustrated with others telling her they’ve seen it, then asking if she’s okay.

“How could anybody by okay after that?” she asked in an interview with the News-Journal. “You know, I am definitely not okay after that.”

Brendan Depa, the student accused of attacking Naydich, pleaded no-contest on October 30 to aggravated battery of a school board employee. He now faces up to 30 years in prison, and a minimum of 34.5 months behind bars.

Depa’s family reportedly tried to have him declared incompetent because he lives with autism, but the court rejected that plan.


Depa’s sentencing is set for January 31.

Naydich said she has managed to stay afloat thanks to a GoFundMe campaign, which has so far raised nearly $118,000 for her recovery and living expenses.

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