Surveillance video shows the moment in which a student with special needs falls to the floor of a school bus because her wheelchair was not properly secured.
In January 2016, 7-year-old Charlotte McCollum of Kent, Washington, tipped over and crashed to the floor. According to Chris Loftis, head of communications for Kent School District, the bus driver did not appropriately secure her wheelchair, which caused the child to fall.
"To see our child who is so vulnerable and helpless, to see her tip over like that, it was absolutely heartbreaking," said mother Natasha Hall, reported KHOU.
Charlotte is completely nonverbal, so she struggled trying to express the degree of her injuries to her family. Hall said her daughter is mentally 6 months old and is completely dependent on adult care.
"As the next day wore on, she starts getting more and more vocal in her pain," Hall explained to KIRO. "She can’t tell us, because she is nonverbal, she can’t tell us how bad it’s hurting."
Loftis apologized to the family on behalf on the school district.
"This was wrong," Loftis said. "It did not meet our standards, and we're going to work to make sure it never happens again."
Despite the apology, Hall stated that this is only the latest in a string of incidents in which her daughter’s safety and right to an education have been denied. In 2015, Charlotte’s feeding tube was broken and pulled at school due to lack of supervision. The child has also visited the emergency room a number of times while under the care of school officials.
"We have enough battles with having a disabled or special needs child," Hall explained. "Going to school should not be one of those battles. They are violating her civil rights."
The family took the school district to court to address the lack of support for the child. Although a judge sided with the family’s concerns, Hall stated that the district is still not complying with Charlotte’s needs. The family also wants the school district to cover injuries the child has endured while at school, but the district has refused to do so.
"I want her to have the experiences, same experiences that all children have," Hall said. “To go to school, to have friends, to learn and to grow to the best of her abilities."