Friday, March 1, 2019

Duncan parents of special-needs children allege abuse

Duncan Public Schools superintendent Melonie Hau is heading out the door, KFOR reports.
Wednesday night the school board held a meeting to discuss the next steps after her departure. In the audience were parents and children with signs demanding a change in culture at the school. ... 
"The water got a little too hot for her and it's going to keep on getting hotter," said mother Tiffany Hartfield. Hartfield previously told News 4 that her son, living with a number of conditions, was neglected by Duncan Public Schools. Now, she says she has an attorney and plans to take legal action against the district. 
She was one of many parents present, holding signs before the board that read things like "Stop the Abuse Now." The board did not address the crowd, nor did they take public comment. "I want somebody to know how they're making these kids feel," said Mona Presswood, crying as she held her granddaughter. 
A mother that now lives in California released surveillance video of her child, allegedly dragged by school personnel. She is also taking legal action against the district. She tells News 4 her daughter is still in a body brace a year after the incident. 
Another mother, Elizabeth Scott, said she's glad the superintendent is leaving because she hopes it will start a change from the top-down. She said her daughter, who has epilepsy, once got off a school bus slurring her speech and stumbling. She shared pictures with us that show scratches on the child's arm and abrasions to her forehead.
"She said that the teacher's aide in her class grabbed her arm and twisted it, causing her to hit her head on the board," said Scott. 
She refused to return her child to that teacher and said the school's resolution was to put her back in preschool. "She’s going to be a year behind, she’s going to be almost 7-years-old when she goes back to kindergarten for the second time," Scott said. "I feel like my daughter is being punished because she got hurt, but I had to keep her safe, whatever that took." 
She mentioned her concern for a number of students in special needs classes with her daughter who are nonverbal, unable to tell their parents anything that may happen in the classroom. "There are so many kids in these classes that can’t talk and it's just terrifying to think of what's happening." 
Presswood said that over the course of at least two years, her granddaughter would be yelled at and handled with physical aggression by teachers and a principal. She said it had damaging mental effects on the child. 
"She said 'there were just days that I just wish I wasn’t alive anymore, it would just be so much easier if I wasn't alive," she said. "At no time should any child feel like they’re not good enough or not want to be alive, it's ridiculous."
Oklahoma students with disabilities are eligible to receive a private-school voucher.

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