A mother in St. Louis was unknowingly the reason for a lockdown at her special needs son’s school.
“I was lying in bed when I received a frantic phone call from the teacher, Michael was panicking,” said Niakea Williams -- whose young son Michael has Asperger’s Syndrome -- of the call she received before heading to the school.
“I saw a teacher and she said Ms. Williams what is wrong? I said something is wrong with Mikey and proceeded to go straight to my son.”
Once Williams got to her son’s classroom, she tried to calm him down and console him. The Walnut Groves Elementary School principal then entered the room to inform Williams that she failed to sign in at the desk and had therefore broken policy.
“’I didn’t sign the book, but I had to check on my son. You can bring me the book.’ She said, ‘Oh no, I’ve already called the police,’’ recalled Williams.
Soon after, local police arrived at the scene and arrested Williams in front of her son while the rest of the school was placed on a 12-minute lockdown. The school said the reason for the lockdown was “unauthorized entry to a school.”
“They escorted me away from my son, who already has emotional distress,” said Williams. “Four officers told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back, I was under arrest.”
Williams believes her arrest was unnecessary and that the school overreacted. She says that everyone there already knows who she is, including the principal, claiming that they had actually met just a week prior to the incident. Williams is trying to fight the charges against her.
A Michigan teacher still has a job after she filmed her herself mocking a 10-year-old student with Asperger’s syndrome who was stuck in a chair.
In the video, taken at Oaktree Elementary School in Goodrich in November, a student is stuck in his chair. Instead of helping, his fifth grade teacher Nicole McVey takes a video on her cell phone.
“Do you want to get Tasered?” McVey asks.
The boy was stuck in his chair for 10 to 15 minutes before a maintenance worker freed him.
The school principal, Michael Ellis, came to the classroom, but said the situation isn’t considered an emergency. Ellis has since resigned.
McVey was put on paid administrative leave and faces private tenure hearings.
In 2013, the school board voted to fire her, but much of the community rallied around McVey. That’s why the boy’s family decided to release the video.
"You hear of bullying by other students and other kids in class, I have had cases like this before, but I have never had a case with teachers and administrators bullying," said the student’s attorney Patrick Greenfelder.
Parents say McVey doesn’t really mean “Taser.” A “Taser” in her classroom refers to tickling.
"A taser means to take your two pointer fingers in a tickling motion in the side in order to distract or get a kid to focus on something else rather than a situation that's dangerous to him or to other people," said Goodrich parent Erin Raether.
While McVey argued the incident was a “teaching moment,” Greenfelder says the she distributed the video to friends, not just school staff. Greenfelder told KCTV 5 those actions were in direct violation Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
One teen’s controversial suspension at a Texas high school has angered people all over the country after news of it spread like wildfire on social media.
18-year-old Chris Tumax was in lunch at Rudder High School when he suddenly heard his special needs friend yelling behind him. When Tumax turned around, he saw his friend being tormented by some other students.
"I turned around and saw he was being harassed," said Tumax to KBTX. “I told the guys to be quiet and leave him alone.”
Shortly after, Tumax says he was called down to speak with school officials and was told he was being given one day’s suspension. Officials said that they were basing their decision off surveillance video of the incident, and, according to what they could see, Tumax was the aggressor in the situation because he stepped towards the bullies. The school officials made that decision without any context and didn’t even listen to the accounts of other students.
"They had to base it off what they saw in the cameras," said Tumax. "They saw me go forward, and that's the reason I got suspended."
Following Tumax’s suspension, his fellow students took to social media to demand that school officials reverse his suspension.
“Okay BISD, suspending a boy for sticking up for a special needs kid that was being bullied? you have a huge mess to clean up. #FreeTumax,” wrote Twitter user @heartificial.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Wallis also took to Twitter, but instead of defending Tumax’s actions, Wallis made clear that it was a private matter.
"I appreciate the messages today, I do read them,” tweeted Wallis. “Please remember student discipline issued by a campus is a confidential matter."
An official school statement echoed the same sentiment and reminded people that they could not discuss the matter publicly.
"Individual student discipline is tied to confidential student records," the statement said. "Regardless of the circumstances surrounding any one event, by law the district cannot comment. These privacy boundaries are put in place to protect students and their confidential information."
Tumax says he is not angry with school officials for suspending him, but he does make clear that if he was faced with the same situation again, he would stand up for his bullied friend every time.
"My message is, go out and help somebody," said Tumax. "If you see it, don't hesitate, don't be scared. We're all human, we all need help, and we all have demons that we're fighting with."
According to reports, the suspension will not go on the student’s permanent record.
A Chattanooga, Tenn., mom is suing Hamilton County Schools after it was discovered that Apison Elementary School was strip-searching her 5-year-old special needs daughter on a daily basis without her consent.
The young girl with special needs was diagnosed with congenital herpes while attending school, and despite being given consent to return to school by a doctor, school officials decided that they needed to check to see if the child had lesions. So, for a few weeks, a school nurse would check the young girl’s body to make sure there weren’t any new outbreaks.
The girl’s mother, Brandy Madden, says she later found out about the strip search and has decided to file a lawsuit against the district because she never gave consent to the search. Madden is suing for all medical expenses, past and future, and says that the unwarranted searches caused emotional distress, suffering and embarrassment.
The school has responded, however, claiming that the young girl, who has special needs, still wears a diaper at five years old and that the searches only occurred when the nurse changed her diaper. The statement claims that the girl was, “unable to self-toilet and was therefore dependent upon school officials to change her diaper.”
“… This child had a diminished expectation of privacy such that any routine examination that school officials may have conducted during the course of routine diaper changing would not have violated any clearly established rights of the child,” continued the school in their statement.
Madden also claims that she lost her job due to missing a number of workdays in order to deal with the situation. The lawsuit is still unresolved.
Philadelphia police found a woman with special needs tied up and malnourished in her caregiver’s basement on Saturday.
The 36-year-old woman wasn’t diagnosed, but authorities say has a very limited vocabulary. She had sores on her body and was covered in urine and feces.
Her caregiver, identified only as Regina, was arrested on Friday after an unrelated altercation with a neighbor, Liza Figuroa.
Figuroa said she called police Firday night after a heated argument with her neighbor.
“The verbal turned into a physical, she ended up on the floor,” she told CBS Philly.
Police searched Regina’s home after they were told their might be a child there.
“The gate on her side was broken; she always wanted to make sure nobody came on her side,” Figuroa said.
The woman found in the house was very thin and frail.
“She was tied up. She was covered in urine and feces and had abrasions all over,” police told CBS.
The caretaker’s cousin, identified as Phyllis, told WPVI that she need to get more detail about what really occurred.
“She’s been taking care of her practically all her life,” Phyllis said. “I talked to her last night and she was fine.”
A Celebration, Florida-based tour service assigns handicapped guides to wealthy families, so they can avoid long lines at Disney World, according to the New York Post.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a policy that allows certain disabled visitors at its amusement parks to avoid notoriously long lines by entering a ride at a second entrance considerably closer to the start of the ride. Disabled guests, and guests in wheelchairs or scooters, are allowed to bring up to six friends with them. While disabled guests are not immediately allowed onto the ride, their wait is typically considerably shorter.
According to an unnamed customer interviewed by the Post, Dream Tours Florida, which advertises itself online as offering vacation services for people with special needs, will provide a disabled “escort,” who travels through the park with a motorized scooter and “handicapped” sign,” for $130 an hour.
“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait two-and-a-half hours,” according to the customer. “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge. This is how the one percent does Disney.”
The unauthorized “escorts” are cheaper than Disney World's own VIP tour guides, who run $310 to $380 per hour.
Dream Tours Florida refused to comment to the Post; and Disney did not return requests for comment.