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Girl, 8, with Down syndrome, returned from school with her socks tightly bound to her shoes with duct tape

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INDIANAPOLIS — The struggles are not new to families of children with disabilities, nor are the troubling stories that have made headlines — children improperly restrained in chairs, confined in "safe rooms," or even struck by school employees.

But what Nate and Elizabeth Searcy found when their 8-year-old daughter returned from school Monday sent shockwaves well beyond their Westside Indianapolis home. Shaylyn, who has Down syndrome, had her socks bound tightly to her shoes with duct tape in her classroom at Westlake Elementary School in Wayne Township, Ind.

"It's an outrage," said Kim Dodson, associate executive director of Arc of Indiana, a special-needs advocacy group. What happened to Shaylyn, she said, is something that could happen to any special-needs child in Indiana — one of 20 states that have no laws protecting them from the misuse of "seclusion and restraint" policies in schools.

"I think that it is time for the state of Indiana to do something to require all school corporations to have some type of policy on record," Dodson said Tuesday.

The incident is the latest of several in Indianapolis-area schools during the past four years, including a mother's complaint about her 9-year-old son being locked in a small "safe room" in a Pike Township school in November.

Shaylyn Searcy's parents said she could not even stand up and walk down the aisle of her school bus when she returned home Monday.

"She said, 'I can't. It hurts.' So we had to carry her off the bus," said Elizabeth Searcy, 29.

"She had duct tape all the way from her feet up around the tops of her ankles. And it was industrial duct tape. It literally pulled fabric off her socks and vinyl off her shoes, it was so strong."

Searcy said her daughter sometimes refuses to put on her shoes, and speculates that is why someone used duct tape in this case.

"They have called me about it before," Searcy said. "I don't know why they couldn't have called me again this time."

The Searcys returned to the school, Elizabeth Searcy said, and sought help removing the duct tape. That took 30 minutes.

The tape caused bruising on Shaylyn's ankles, Searcy said.

Searcy said this was the first year Shaylyn and her brother Riley, 6, were at Westlake Elementary School. The children previously went to another Wayne Township school, Bridgeport Elementary, but needed to change schools after moving last year.

Searcy said Shaylyn is not going back to Westlake, and they've made special arrangements to have her return to Bridgeport on Thursday. Nate Searcy said they are also speaking with children's advocacy groups about the incident.

Wayne Township released a statement Tuesday saying they are conducting an investigation and have notified the Indiana Department of Child Services.

"If warranted, we will file a report with the agency," the statement read.

"We have also involved our own law enforcement officers in the investigation. When the investigation into this incident is concluded, we will take appropriate action."

Wayne Township School Board President Stan Ellis said Tuesday that board members are not commenting on this incident.

Advocates like Dodson said incidents like these are the result of fundamental problems that need to be fixed at the state level. Only 16 states have statutes that limit the use of restraint to emergencies involving immediate risk of harm, according to an April 2012 report published by the Autism National Committee.

While there are no official statutes in Indiana, there are still recommendations.

Those guidelines stem from a 2009 order issued by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that all states review their policies and guidelines about the use of seclusion and restraint, and allow for physical restraint if a student is posing a physical risk.

"Some schools do a really nice job with it," Dodson said. "Some schools don't do a nice job with it.

"And some schools do nothing."

Some Indiana legislators are trying to create a law that would address the issue. A Senate bill that would require local school boards to approve policies on seclusion and restraints is up for a committee vote next week.

Indiana Sen. Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport who wrote the bill, said that if passed, the bill would require schools to provide training for school personnel, outline a protocol for notifying parents about when seclusion or restraint are used and create standardized definitions for common seclusion and restraint measures. Head did not know how differently the Searcys' case would have been handled had his bill been in effect.

"Other states have thought about this problem and addressed it and kept laws on the books," he said. "They've come up with solutions that haven't been too unwieldy, and haven't had any consequences."

by on Feb. 6, 2013 at 9:35 AM
Replies (51-57):
Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Feb. 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM


Quoting TruthSeeker.:

  Exactly!! There is absolutely NO reason why this should have happened. None at all. It took 30 minutes to get the tape off of that child and she was left with bruising. And these are special education teachers for crying out loud!! Teachers specifically trained in how to deal with special needs children and their behaviors.

  Mom said they have called her before. Why didn't they call her this time? 

 

Quoting autodidact:


Sounds to me like the teacher needs HER Behavior plan modified.

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

I hate that this happened.

I have strong opinions about why stuff like this happens. It has been my experience that many times [some] parents saddle their own burdens onto teacher and school staff. Parents of special needs children have a challenging roles and hectic lives. I do not have special needs children, but I've worked with them. I cannot imagine being saddled with that amount of responsibility. Working with special needs children over the years I've had to open my mind and be more willing to try to put myself in the shoes of the parents to grasp particular circumstances I don't face day in and day out. It's VERY DIFFICULT to maintain an educator status, meet the educational needs of the children and deal with the constant increasing expectations of the parents of these children.  I no longer teach and I really doubt that I will step foot into a classroom ful of special needs students ever again. I know I can no longer juggle my own children and family along side a classroom full of kids and their parents.

People who do stupid stuff like this are at the end of their rope. I'm not blaming parents or the kids. I'm not blaming anyone, actually? I'm just giving perspective. This teacher and the staff need a reality check.

It sounds like it's time to review the IEP and behavior mod plan.



 

Receiving training and actually applying the training don't always go hand in hand. I do not dispute that what happened was absurd and completely out of line. Not for nothing, when I was in school we touched on IEP's. Not ALL special education teachers are completely versed and understanding of every disability and/or developemental delay. It's a HUGE problem.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Feb. 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM


Quoting glitterteaz:

ya she just said I was breaking the leads on purpose to get out of my seat


Quoting futureshock:


Quoting glitterteaz:

I agree and I still have no idea why I was duct taped to a chair as a child for having to sharpen my pencil more than once in a few minutes. It had fractures in the lead all through it, so it broke every few words. I know why the pencil broke so much but I have no idea why my teacher did not see the problem and just give me another pencil.  Not like taping me to my chair fixed the problem with my pencil.

Quoting RLT2:

What in the HELL would possess an "adult" to Duct tape a child's goddamn shoes and socks to their feet?


Did you try to explain this to the teacher?


OMG what a horrid teacher!  Did you tell your parents?

Woodbabe
by Woodie on Feb. 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Poor baby :(

Trollslayer
by Bronze Member on Feb. 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM

If her Mother would have done this to her, she possibly would have been arrested, and CPS would have been called and the child may have been taken from the home. It is disgusting what adults to do children in the Public School System!

glitterteaz
by Ruby Member on Feb. 10, 2013 at 1:44 PM

ya my mom is a pacifist 

Quoting futureshock:


Quoting glitterteaz:

ya she just said I was breaking the leads on purpose to get out of my seat


Quoting futureshock:


Quoting glitterteaz:

I agree and I still have no idea why I was duct taped to a chair as a child for having to sharpen my pencil more than once in a few minutes. It had fractures in the lead all through it, so it broke every few words. I know why the pencil broke so much but I have no idea why my teacher did not see the problem and just give me another pencil.  Not like taping me to my chair fixed the problem with my pencil.

Quoting RLT2:

What in the HELL would possess an "adult" to Duct tape a child's goddamn shoes and socks to their feet?


Did you try to explain this to the teacher?


OMG what a horrid teacher!  Did you tell your parents?


Autiziumom
by Member on Feb. 10, 2013 at 11:19 PM
I have a little girl on my sons school bus that literally throws her shoes across the bus.
LuvmyAiden
by on Feb. 10, 2013 at 11:46 PM

With more and more diagnosis of these types of issues this needs to be addressed. Do we need seperate schools, seperate classrooms, better teacher training? There HAS to be a way for kids who are not normal to get great education and understanding just like their normal counterparts.

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