School Reassigns Teacher Following Claims She Made Student Crawl Up
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 21, 2006
SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI--The Missouri Department of Social Services is investigating claims that a teacher repeatedly forced a fifth-grade student with disabilities to crawl down a sidewalk, up concrete steps and across the floor at her school.
According to the Associated Press, Bissett Elementary School teacher Patricia Wright was reassigned last week to a non-classroom job while the state and school district investigate the allegations made by parents Taci and Jim Mathers, whose daughter has cerebral palsy and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
The couple claim that they asked the school in January to provide their daughter, Jacqueline Smith-Jackson, with an aide to help steady her when she came in and out of the building. They also provided a note from the girl's doctor requesting the aide because she had a series of recent surgeries that make it difficult for her to walk.
Last month, however, one of Jacqueline's friends informed her parents that the girl was instead being made to crawl on her hands and knees.
Later, Wright reportedly said she had Jacqueline crawl because she was concerned she might fall and hurt herself.
Earlier this month, a parent of another classmate expressed concerns that Jacqueline was left alone in the classroom during a fire drill. Another parent told the News-Leader that Wright ordered students to draw straws in the classroom -- in front of Jacqueline -- to decide who would have to "volunteer" to sit with her during lunch and recess.
"I think it's wrong," said Pam Lawrence, whose daughter Heather is in Jacqueline's class. "I can't even imagine what kind of feeling that would give Jacqueline, seeing that."
"Allegations put disabled student on hands and knees" (News-Leader)
"State checking Bissett abuse allegations" (News-Leader)
"Board's silence reeks of indifference" (News-Leader)