October 18, 2013

Is School Safe?

(Trigger Warning: abuse of power, injuries against a disabled person)

Just recently, I wrote about law enforcement abusing their powers and how they may not always be trusted to protect when it comes to the special needs population. Scarier still, these sort of "above the law" attitudes can infiltrate all areas of society, including our school boards and schools.

This seems to be what happened last month to Shawna, mother and blogger at InnerAspie. About three weeks into the school  year, her normally happy and active 9 year old Autistic son, who she refers to as "Beans" in her blog, became quiet and extra cuddly. A bit before this, her maternal instincts told her something didn't seem quite right. She was not getting very clear information from his teacher in his communication book each day and he also completely stopped drinking. Looking for more feedback and answers, she scheduled a visit with the teacher.

Before this meeting could take place though, he came home one day with horribly bruised wrists (pictures on her blog). She immediately took him to the ER for x-rays. He is non-verbal, so she could not get any clear answers from him about what possibly happened. The next day, she took him to his regular doctor, who said the marks looked like he had been restrained. They could see the imprint in his skin of what could possibly have been a shoe print or jewellery. It is very hard to tell from x-rays of all the small bones in the wrists of a still-growing child, but there was possibly a small fracture.

No one thought to call and inform her of this. It did not happen in her home or on the bus - it had to have happened at school and no one is owning up to it. Even if it was an accident, why didn't anyone contact her to say what happened? These bruises were so huge, how could they not have been seen?

She called the police to make a report and was sent to the school police department, which is not exactly the most impartial authority, but she had no choice. Through their investigation, she was able to find out his para took him off his morning bus and reported the bruises to the nurse (the para claims). The nurse only has a record of examining the child at 10:30am. Why did it take her two hours to see him? The nurse said she wanted to call the parents, but that the teacher told her not to.


You know what? If my child were injured at school, I would much rather get two phone calls, even if they are redundant, than to get no phone call at all. Even with all this, no one is able to explain where these bruises came from. There are only three children (including Beans) in this class. These children are not supposed to be left alone. How could no one see an injury like this? Why doesn't anyone know what happened?

Even with all of the authorities involved - from police, to Child Protective Services, to the Special Ed Coop (which governs about 16 schools) - no one is admitting any wrong doing and she has no answers or solutions. So she is doing what she can do to keep her child safe - she is keeping him home and will home school him for at least this year, until either another school or safe option can be found.

This is a horrible disservice to an innocent child who did nothing wrong, never had any issues with school before and loves going to school. He is the one losing out on being out with his classmates because a teacher, or someone at the school, could not keep him safe. Did someone abuse their power and decide that forcibly restraining a 9 year old boy was the right thing to do? This person is still in contact with other children. Are these children safe?

What Shawna wants now is for everyone to know this story and for the higher governing bodies to know what is going on in their local districts. The lack of accountability in this case is appalling and it needs to be known. This is also tax-payer's money feeding these systems and this system is falling this boy and many other special needs children, no doubt. Remember that for every story you do hear about, there are always countless others suffering in silence because they do not have the resources or capacity to challenge. 

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