As national television networks have been airing the video of staff at a Lexington school dragging an autistic student in hallways, advocates are expressing concern, saying similar situations occur across Kentucky.
“There are a lot of teachers that are doing really good work in Kentucky,” said Jeff Edwards, director of Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, the state’s disability rights organization.
But Edwards added, “there are similar incidents I would feel certain occur daily across Kentucky where people are putting their hands on them (disabled students) unnecessarily and making situations worse.”
Edwards said Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, is monitoring the incident in which a video shows a non-verbal sixth grader with autism at Lexington’s Tates Creek Middle School who was dragged through the hallways by a teacher and school nurse after he refused to leave the gymnasium in September.
Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said last week that the teacher shown in the video, released through a Kentucky Open Records Act request, is no longer with the school district. Kevin Hall, a spokesman for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said the school nurse is on paid leave while an investigation into the incident continues.
The child’s mother, Jo Grayson, earlier told the Herald-Leader that her son sustained cuts and bruises while being dragged down the hallway.
Kentucky Protection and Advocacy has investigated similar cases in which disabled students in school districts elsewhere in Kentucky were injured in incidents with school staff, Edwards said.
Some members of the Lexington-Fayette NAACP said they have advocated for parents who contend their children with autism were dealt with inappropriately by school staffs. That group issued a statement Monday which said members are “deeply concerned by the episodic reports of inappropriate behavior toward children with autism spectrum disorders in Kentucky schools.”
“The lack of uniform training and practices is not fair to our children or the professionals that work with them in our schools,” the statement said.
“I just don’t understand how someone can do this to a child, let alone to a person with disabilities,” Grayson told CNN.
A protest has been scheduled for November 7 in the state Capitol rotunda in Frankfort to lobby for surveillance cameras in all Kentucky public school classrooms and for better staff training, Grayson said. The protest will be silent as a symbol of disabled students who often can’t speak for themselves, she added.