my 12 year old with DS was found on a busy street after leaving the school alone

Deb - posted on 12/17/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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Hey guys,
I need some advice and help with this. Yesterday, my 12 year old left class and
made it out of the building, off of the campus and onto the busy road. He
proceeded down this road, crossed it at some point and was a quarter of a mile
down this road at talking with an adult female at her residence when he was
finally found. Here is the report from the asst. principal as to what happened:

Officer Fox and I were meeting in Mrs. Helmcamp's office on another matter when
Mrs. Riney poked in her head and said, "X was on the loose." Offer Fox and I
immediately exited Mrs. Helmcamp's office with the intent of finding him. As I
walked into the main office a mom was entering the front door of the building
reporting that there was a student running across our property apparently
heading toward the trash truck which was collecting our refuse at the time at
the north east corner of our campus. I immediately ran to my vehicle and
radioed Officer Fox of the reported sighting. He headed to his police car as
well. I proceeded north on Nolan River Road in my car and saw student X
standing in a drive way about three houses down from the school on the east side
of the road. The garbage truck was also at the residence. The student was
talking to an unknown adult female. I exited my car and engaged the student in
conversation. The student and I had a conversation on the porch swing of the
residence for a few minutes. After I concluded the student was calm and not
agitated, I asked him if he would like to ride back to school in the police car
and he agreed. At 9:33 the students entered Officer Fox's vehicle and was
transported back to school.
Upon returning to the building, I engaged Mr. Goodman and asked how this had
happened. Mr Goodman told me that he was in the back of his classroom helping
another student. Mrs. Bilew was at the desk with X. She said he moved toward
the door and just left out the door. Mr Goodman began to pursue at this point.
By the time Mr. Goodman reached the door, the student had already gotten around
the first corner of the short hallway and was out of sight. Mr. Goodman went to
the left passed the seminar room where Coach Ellis told him he saw a someone
pass by in an orange shirt heading toward the back of the building. By the time
Mr. Goodman reached that corner, the student was again already out of sight from
Mr. Goodman's vantage point. The student exited the building from an unknown
location at this point. This is about the same time Mrs. Riney made Officer Fox
and I aware of the situation


First of all, he is pretty much non-verbal so he is not able to carry on a
conversation. Second, I know the layout of the school and if they went after
him immediately, they would have seen which way he went in the first LONG
hallway. There are alot of holes in this story. The street he was on is super
busy with traffic so he could have gotten hit by a car, kidnapped, or worse.
The teacher was only concerned with disciplining him by making him watch the
other kids enjoy the christmas party, and he not attend only watch as
punishment. They assume no responsibility in him being out of the school and
unsupervised and in danger.

I need to know what steps I should take in this matter. I need to know some
information about homeschooling him.

HELP PLEASE!!!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Iridescent - posted on 12/19/2010

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If you don't want this happening to another child, you must make the school liable. They screwed up. Why did they punish your child for this? Was he capable of understanding why he wasn't allowed to participate in the Christmas program and not repeat the action that caused it? If so, then it is appropriate. If not, it was completely out of line for them to do so. Does he have a 1:1 para? If not, it is time for them to provide that level of care at all times. Doesn't the school have a video monitoring system on the halls? Locked doors? Our school is in the middle of nowhere yet we have this equipment now - for grades of 6-13 students per grade, and less than 100 students in the entire school, which serves multiple communities. This should be standard!

Lindsey - posted on 12/22/2010

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as a Special Education teacher, I know how hard it is to get a 1:1 paraprofessional. Just because the student needs it, does not mean the school has the budget or the resources to hire the para. I do recommend that you contact an advocacy group that specializes in Children and Adults with Disabilities, explain the situation and then ask for an ARD to set up a new plan. Not so much a new IEP or even a new BIP, but just to "fine tune" everything. When I know I have a "RUNNER", we have every precaution taken into place. We make sure to have the right doors locked in accordance to the classroom they are in. We had to get the Fire Cheif to sign off on them due to Fire Code violations, etc. It is amazing the hoops the districts, schools, law officials, etc. will make you go through to keep your child safe at school. But that is the job of the school and they will comply. I can't believe your son got as far as he did. That would NEVER have happened on my watch. I would have been running after him until I found him, especially if there were two teachers in the room. I am not only a Special Education teacher, but I have a child with special needs as well. So I understand the rights of each child better than you can imagine. Each state is different, and I am only truly familar with Texas and Indiana State Law. However, Persons with Disabilites Act is a Nation wide thing, so use that to your advantage. It is a Free and APPROPRIATE Education for all. If have specific questions that I could answer about IEP's, Behvior Plans, things you might want to add or discuss, a way to attempt to get more help from the Paraprofessional. I can also ask my father (attorney) what the school is liable for from his perspective. Also, is your son in a Self-Contained enviroment? Or is he mainstreamed with support? How is his day structured? If I knew that, I could help you ask the right questions and get the right supports for him, so his safety is not in jeoprdy again!!

Tina - posted on 12/17/2010

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I would personally be talking to a lawyer about options. You are right, they should be held responsible to make sure they don't allow it to happen again. That is horrible!

Janet - posted on 12/24/2010

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I WOULD FIRST OF ALL CONTACT A LAWYER TO FILE A SUIT AGAINST THE SCHOOL AND THEN I WOULD CONTACT AN ADVOCATE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS AND LET THEM HANDLE THE PUNISHMENT THEY WANTED TO DO OR HAD DONE FOR MAKING HIM WATCH THE OTHERS HAVE THEIR PARTY WAS WRONG AND CRUEL NOT A LESSON ON WHY WE DON'T WALK OFF/AWAY..DON'T LET THIS SLIDE..DON'T PULL HIM OUT OF SCHOOL BUT TO MAKE THE SCHOOL ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS..IF YOUR SON WAS NOT ABLE TO HAVE FUN AT HIS PARTY THEN WHAT WOULD A PUNISHMENT FOR THE SCHOOL PERSONAL BE FOR NOT WATCHING HIM BETTER...JUST BECAUSE HE HAS SPECIAL NEEDS DOES NOT MEAN HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY LETTING HIM WALK OUT..MAKE THEM PAY FOR THEIR ACTIONS.i HAVE A DAUGHTER THAT HAS DOWNS AND SHE IS NOW 23 AND BELIEVE ME THE SCHOOLS MESSED UP WITH HER A FEW TIMES AND AFTER I LEARNED HER RIGHTS AND MY RIGHTS THEY DID NOT MESS UP ANY MORE...HOPE IT WORKS OUT FOR YOU..NEED ANYTHING ELSE PLZ CONTACT ME...jclark@highland.net I have been an advocate for several parents and special needs persons in the past and if there is anything I can tell ya I will..

Dorothea - posted on 12/22/2010

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Call your states Department of Education for Exceptional Children, or that's what it's called in Ohio. (Basically the department of special needs.) They should, at the very least, look into this situation. I would also contact a lawyer. I'm sorry this happened, and thankful that nothing serious happened to your son. Good luck and God Bless.

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29 Comments

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Edith - posted on 01/02/2011

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It looks like you got some very good suggestions. I hope something there will help you. Tonight in church our pastor ask us to right the things we want God's blessings on in this new year. One of mine I hope all moms will join me in praying that as parents we can get the information and help we need to take care of our children and guide them as they grow and learn to care for themselfs when we can no longer take care of them or we have to let them go into the world without us to hold their hand. I pray each and every family will have a great year and can complete all goals we have for our children this year. God bless you!!!

Heather - posted on 01/02/2011

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Dear Deb im not sure which country you are in but if you are in Australia best thing is to have a friend or the childs council come with you to make a complaint to the Principal and if no statisfaction then you process up to chain of command next would be your local district officer and then to state this sort of thing happen but i would be asking for him to be placed in a Special Needs School where the teacher are train to deal with situation of this nature. And if non of that works go see your local MP and explain the situation they might be able to help
Regard Heather

Patricia - posted on 12/29/2010

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I have a 12 year old daughter with DS and know how scary that can be. When they are at school you do think the teachers should assume responsibility for keeping them safe. Has he left his classroom before? Do they have any type of plan in place for if this happens again, for him or another child? I personally don't know of anyone who home schools their child with a disability. I know it would not work well at all for me - my child does so much better in a group setting that she would ever do with me home alone. Do you have the option of placing him in another school within your district? Sorry, I know I'm no help. I just wanted to let you know I'll be thinking about you and sending positive vibes hoping everything works out well.

Edith - posted on 12/26/2010

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Thank you Amy I think that is the point I wanted to make the homeschooling mom. I just could not get the words right. Each parent has to do what is best for their child. I just pray that the mom God gives her the strength to do what she thinks is best for her child what ever that is. Then what God wants her to do about the school that let the child get out into the street and blocks from school. Deb, I wish the best for you and your child.

Iridescent - posted on 12/24/2010

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Please remember to respect the views of each other in this thread. Your views are not going to change those of others, and becoming pushier will not achieve your goal of forcing your view on them.

While homeschooling is excellent for some children, it is not for others. In addition, there are more things to consider than just the child's ability to learn in each environment, including the parent's ability to teach (mentally, physically, and time) as well as their desire. I, for one, have no desire to home school my children. I want them exposed to other children, and yes, they will learn things I do not like as well as teach things other parents don't like to others; this is how they learn and grow as people, and question the world they live in. Mom and Dad aren't perfect, and I don't want my children growing up believing we are done learning upon graduation; my children teach me as I teach them, despite them not being home schooled. It allows me to supplement their education with items I am proficient in, and let go of worry in areas I am not.

This mom requested help as to what she should do for her situation. The suggestion of home schooling is just that, a suggestion which she can go with or not. But it does not solve her problem. All it does is show that when things get hard, run away or give up.

Amy Lea
Administrator

Edith - posted on 12/24/2010

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I think most of us moms agree with you. Moms like you are needed everywhere. I hope you do not mind I wrote you email address down and would like to put it in my contact lest. So far the problems at school have worked out. Like you there have some problems.

Susan - posted on 12/22/2010

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I let my one daughter read your post. she is married with two children who she plans to home school. (All my daughters are home schooling their children.) She feels that because of her home schooling experience she is better suited to the world than her husband who was schooled in the public school all his life. She reads better than him. We also did not "shelter" our children from the world. We talked about drugs and other important subjects that, if they had been in the public school setting, would have got the wrong messages. Yes most children might work better with someone other than the parent, but then they learn things that maybe they should not learn. I learned right along with my children, ie Algebra with my oldest, and caught on better working with them. We had some pretty interesting conversations. I have some friends that have home schooled their children all their schooling years. One has 12 children, the other I forget how many they have. They have children that are graduates of officer training schools, voted in to Oklahoma senate, in Congress. etc. I know that some would not do as good, but most are very industrious and more productive than their counter parts from the public school.

Edith - posted on 12/22/2010

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Susan you said you are an experienced homeschooler and I beleive you. I also beleive it works for many children but many children need much more. I know a lot that work better with their friends around and are on honor roll. Many of the children I am talking about are on their way to much more education from high school. Most of the children we see often are happy when school starts so they can be with the friends that "need" them, their word not mine. You may not know that there children that work better for some one else than a parent. When a parent has to be careful when they have a child with disabilities. I had other mothers go with me to visit the top rated school here. The class my child would have gone into was nothing but a baby sitter. We went to the last school we would have thought to put him in. The whole feel of the class was a different world. My child is like many I have talked to parents about. They work better for someone other than a parent. The school he goes to is one of the top rated here and my child has toped even the people that thaught he would go good. He never fails to supprise us with what he does know and can do. His work is put together by people that not give things he can do but things he has to work at a lot. I agree homeschooling and more one on one is better for some children others need the challange of other children. I ask that you understand that each child has different needs. Like you; I want to do what I think is best of my child as each parent must do.

Susan - posted on 12/22/2010

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Most of my children are married and very capable in the world. We only have two that are not married. One is in her 20's and the other is 17 and Spina Bifidia. I am an experienced homeschooler and know that there are many homeschoolers that have run for office in their states and are now getting into our government. I will disagree with you because I know this from experience not just because I think so.

Angela - posted on 12/22/2010

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I have no advice, but I feel for you and hope that you're able to find some kind of solution to help your child and any others that may be in this situation at this school.

Barbara - posted on 12/22/2010

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sometimes the mere presence of a strong advocate, or attorney will 'encourage' the school to provide what the law says they ust provide.... otherwise in many districts (sadly) they say 'no' as long as they can to save the almighty dollar.....

Jane - posted on 12/22/2010

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Our district refused to assign an aide so that is when we had to get a lawyer.

[deleted account]

It might be better to work with the school on changing policies before you take him out of there or call a lawyer. I'm fiquring he has an IEP? Than based on this incident, you'd surely be able to go to the CSE Committee to demand a 1:1 Aide for him. Someone who is only assigned to him all day long! Than work on the policies of the school. Are doors locked during the day? My kids schools, I have three in different schools, all have locked doors inside the school. Also, every school in our district has a woman at the door who makes every person who comes in sign for where they are going, what are you doing here or who are you here to see? Everyone gets a pass so there are no strangers wandering around the building where my children are!! They also see every person who goes out the door! The women who guard the door, know who the special needs students are in the school and would sound the alarm within seconds if one of them even tried to go near the outer doors alone! Good lord. I'm glad your son is ok. Try to work with them on changing things.

Edith - posted on 12/21/2010

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Susan, it is alright to disagree with me. can you granintee your children will not run into the problems in life when you may not be there to guide them through learning all is not good in the world? Can you put them in a bubble to keep them away from othes all their lives? If so you live in a different world. Yes they will learn things I wish they would not learn in school. With our family, church family, and the army of people who come into a child's life it is better for him to learn while he is younger that there is a lot of things in the world that is wrong. It will be better on Joey to learn right and wrong as a child than a teen or adult. You may not be there to guide them when they learn the things you do not want the child to know. Unless the children live in that bubble the rest of their lives they will things that you need to be there to help them with. I was sheltered. I did ok but it was harder on me than my sister who was not sheltered. I have one child in his 30's. His dad and I were there as he learned about drugs and drinking. He is a good man that does not drink or do drugs. Alot of the people he went to school does one or both. It is how we set the example that counts.

Jane - posted on 12/21/2010

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A similar thing happened twice when my son was younger. I met with the principal to no avail, so then I went downtown to the school administration. We negotiated a transfer to a school with a very strong reputation for dealing well with special needs kids.

Eventually I did need a lawyer about some other things and found one in our town who specializes in disability law. Here in Texas we have a group called Advocacy Inc. in Austin, Texas, that can help parents of special needs kids.

Kathy - posted on 12/21/2010

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You need to change school and make sure they transport him to the new school and back home, check out every school around you. I agree also the school should be reliable and you need to get a lawyer

Susan - posted on 12/21/2010

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"Children need interaction with other children at all ages. That is why I would not consister home school for my child and the interaction will help him learn" This erroneous thinking. The only thing that the interaction with other children does is teach him maybe some things that you may not want him to learn. I have home schooled all of my children and they have always not had lack in interaction with other children. They got interaction in Sunday School and under supervision, which is not really what the public schools give. When my children did go to the public school they brought home some things that they learned that I should have been the one to teach them. In fact, if you teach them yourself, most of the time you can teach them correct social graces, instead of the disrespect that the other children tend to teach the child.

[deleted account]

I am not sure what you want the lawyer for. You don't want to create an environment that the school won't work with you. There is a lot of power in an IEP. If your son is on an IEP, I would demand a meeting right away and get added to the IEP that the school is required to have an aid with your son at all times. You already have the evidence that it is needed. I don't think they could deny it. If it is already in your IEP, you need to find out how this failed. You have the right to call a meeting. If they refuce they are breaking the law. User the power of the IEP. If your son is not on an IEP, you need to do your research and get him on an IEP. Your doctors can help you with this.

Darcy - posted on 12/21/2010

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This is more common than you know, but that does not make it ok. I'm curious as to whether the teacher or school knew he wandered in the past. Even if they didn't, there should always be someone looking over ALL students at all times. I work with kids with special needs...and we do the following: make sure the local police & fire department are aware of your son and the school he attends so they can be on notice, demand the school set up an action plan to ensure this never happens again. (this could be alarms on doors, intercom system for office & security), get him an ID bracelet, require they have appropriate staff to student ratio. He is likely in a self-contained class so they should have a high staff/student ratio anyway. Either way, they should have dropped everything an ran full speed after him! There are no excuses...this does happen, but they did not do nearly enough to prevent it or handle it.

Barbara - posted on 12/21/2010

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you can (and I recommend) contacting your state Disability Rights Network (each state has one - they have attorneys that will represent you in a disability rights action) If you are unable to find them call the Institute on Disabilities in your state - again each state is required to have one, they are most often connected to a state university system - for example here in Philadelphia it is connected to Temple University. If I can be of more specific help feel free to contact me @ BeenthereKindon@aol.com - the school IS responsible for his safety and they obviously are not taking this seriously! Does he have an IEP?? What does it say about safety behaviors???

Edith - posted on 12/19/2010

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If you would email me with the town and state you are in I will talk to our local Families Helping Families and see who to contact in your town that is their equial. edithhixon8@aol.com I am in Monroe, LA and I am willing to do what I can to help from here. It would upset me to no end that something is not done to protect the children in that school. Families Helping Families goes to school meetings, in home meeting with caregivers, state workers and careproviders, even to doctor appt. as needed. They advise on what you can do and who to contact if you need more help. Our office if you would prefer to go ask who to contact there they may be able to help. I you would prefer to call them your self the no. is 318-361-0487 I am sorry I do not have the 1-800 no. I would love to know the outcome of every thing. again good luck

Edith - posted on 12/19/2010

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Children need interaction with other children at all ages. That is why I would not consister home school for my child and the interaction will help him learn. First contact a lawyer then a suport group to go with you to all meetings. In our city there is a March of Dimes sponsered org. that can help tell you where to go and who to see then go to the meeting with us. Your son is the responsibility of the school system from the time he gets on the bus until he steps off in evening. Your child and any other child that goes into the school needs to be protected. You need to meet with the prinicpal and head of your school board. Insist on a 1 on 1 para from the time he steps on the bus to his home. You can contact the local disability org, in your city to tell you a good suport org. to help you. Get help you can get, include other parents in this fight to protect your child. After all they should know that if this happens to one child it could happen to others. God bless you and guide you as you fight this fight. Post where you are on here. There may be some parents in your area. Also go on facebook. There are parents that do not have disabled children that may help you. Good luck

Deb - posted on 12/17/2010

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i agree, but i want the school to be liable. i dont want this happenening to anyone else's child. i just dont know where to begin

Jennifer - posted on 12/17/2010

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my son is 11 yrs old with ds.. he also ran out of school and knock on someones door across the street but lucky someone was right behind him running after him! u need to take some kind of action even if it changing his schools just to have better teacher looking after him! i had my son home school for about 3 months i felt bad becuz he wanted someone 2 play with so i have him at a different school with way better teachers!

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