A California mother says she was offered $86,000 if she agreed to settle complaints about a public school district’s shoddy treatment of her autistic, mute and diabetic son.
Even though Heather Houston filed a complaint alleging that her 21-year-old son, David Swanson, was force-fed and discriminated against at school, she still wanted him to attend class this year because he's entitled to free public education until he turns 22. So far, that hasn’t happened.
Houston says that when Swanson and his private nurse, Annette Armstrong, went to school on Aug. 15 for the first day of class, they were turned away. She claims that she received the settlement offer from school officials in Yuba City two weeks afterwards.
"The law says he's allowed access to education," Houston said. "I don't want their money. I never wanted their money."
Armstrong was accompanying Swanson so that she could keep track of his diabetes. "I don't get it, because he's a wonderful child,” she said. "David had a desk in there. We were where we were supposed to be." Armstrong was with Swanson at school in the past and says she witnessed a teacher force-feeding him. "She would push his head in the bowl, make him spit in the bowl and stir it up and make him eat it," Armstrong said. "Her methods are bizarre."
The settlement letter offers Houston the lump sum in exchange for waiving Swanson's right to attend public school and dropping her complaints against the school district and county superintendent's office.
Yuba City School District's lawyer, Kim Bogard, admitted that there was a settlement agreement offer, but would not get into specifics, Yahoo News reported.
"Any offer made was part of ongoing confidential settlement discussions in which David's counsel fully participated," Bogard said in a prepared statement on behalf of the district. "The settlement offers that Ms. Houston refers to are no longer valid."