The mother of a 9-year-old fourth grader has claimed that her son was stuffed into a duffel bag, with the drawstring pulled tight, when she found him as a teacher’s aide stood by, writes Bruce Schreiner at the Associated Press.
“He was treated like trash and thrown in the hallway,” the pupil’s mother, Sandra Baker, said.
Baker is unsure for exactly how long her son, who is a student at Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg in central Kentucky, was in the bag, but she said that he was calling out for her.
Mercer County schools Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis said in a statement:
“The employees of the Mercer County Public Schools are qualified professionals who treat students with respect and dignity while providing a safe and nurturing learning environment.”
Baker was called to the school after being told her son was “jumping off the walls.”
When Baker met with school officials, she was informed that the boy had smirked at the teacher when he was told to put down a basketball, before throwing it across the room.
School district officials described the bag to Baker as a “therapy bag”. However, when Baker collected her son, she described it as having some small balls inside and resembled a green Army duffel bag.
Baker said school officials told her it was not the first time they had put him in the bag.
“When I got him out of the bag, his poor little eyes were as big as half dollars and he was sweating,” Baker said.
“I tried to talk to him and get his side of the reason they put him in there, and he said it was because he wouldn’t do his work.”
The case has spurred an online petition. So far around 700 people have signed it, calling for the firing of school employees responsible.
The petition was launched by Lydia Brown, an autistic 18-year-old Georgetown University freshman from Boston, who was outraged by the story.
“That would not be wrong just for an autistic student. That would be wrong to do to anyone,” Brown said.
Landon Bryce, a former California teacher who blogs about issues related to autism, said the school’s treatment of the pupil was “careless and disrespectful.”
“A lot of the damage that we do to students with all kinds of disabilities is by treating them as though they deserve to be treated in a way that’s different from other people.”
State education officials said they were investigating the case.