LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– A spokesperson for Fayette County Public Schools has released a statement following the release of surveillance videos showing a child being dragged through the school hallway by a teacher and a Lexington-Fayette County Health Department nurse.
Jo Grayson said that her 11-year-old son, Thatcher, is a student at Tates Creek Middle. He has autism, is mostly non-verbal, has epilepsy, celiac, and hypermobility. She said Friday, September 14 started with speech therapy, then community-based instruction and that was before he got on the bus to school. She said things went downhill from there.
“My son was having a meltdown. He refused to get up off the gym floor, and a teacher and a school nurse dragged him down a hallway until they could get him to the resource classroom,” Grayson told LEX 18.“The teacher had messaged me that they had to pick him off of the gym floor earlier in the day. But she did not say that he was dragged down the hallway,” said Grayson.
Thursday, October 11, Jo Grayson provided LEX 18 with surveillance video that appears to show Thatcher being picked up and dragged down a long hallway after refusing to get up. His service dog is with him in the video.
Grayson tells LEX 18 that because of his communication difficulties, she wasn’t aware of what happened until she saw the cuts and marks on his body.
On Friday, October 12, Fayette County Public Schools released this statement, “We are committed to providing a nurturing and safe learning environment for all of our students and the more than 730 special education professionals in our district work every day to meet the needs of the children in their classrooms. In addition to the specialized education requirements met by our special needs educators through the certification process, the district provides extensive professional learning opportunities each year. Incidents of this nature – in which an employee is acting outside of the district’s expectations and out of line with the training provided – are isolated. Our training is very explicit that physical restraint is a last resort only to be used when a student is a danger to themselves or others. The training also shows employees the proper ways to hold or transport students. In this case, neither of those standards were met. There is absolutely no tolerance for the conduct of the employee in this incident, and while we cannot discuss specifics, we do want to reassure our families that we take any situations of this nature very seriously. Our protocol in a situation of this nature is to immediately make a report to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and place the employee involved on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.”
When asked what the district would expect an employee to do if a child who is non-verbal refused to move, the spokesperson responded, “It is difficult to generalize the district’s expectations for responding to a situation like this because every child with special needs has an individual plan outlining the best evidence-based strategies to support their success. However, we can say that some recommended strategies would include use of wait time, visuals, a student’s individual communication system, and system of least prompts.”
The spokesperson said that the employee separation happened on October 2, 2018.