School Tries to Discipline Special Needs Kindergartener for Acting Like a Child

Gloria Rodriguez and Hector Ortiz's 5-year-old with special needs has had a rough start to the school year. After missing the first week and a half of school because they didn't "feel comfortable" accepting him without an action plan (which his mom tried to square away before the year started), the little guy managed to run away from his classroom.

A police officer spotted him about two blocks away from the Buffalo school, where the administration had already gone into action trying to locate him. When his mom got a call about the incident, she says she was told that her child was going to be suspended for leaving school without permission.


The kindergartner attends Early Childhood Center School 82, six miles from his home, because it's one of the few that had an opening in a special-education classroom with a 12-to-1 student ratio. In addition to the teacher, there's also an assistant to help manage the children.

He made his escape when the assistant had left the room to pick up the lunches for the kids, and the teacher was busy with another student. To complicate matters even further, the kiddo has life-threatening food allergies. Several school staff members, including the school nurse with an epi-pen, began searching for him before he was returned by a police officer who found him wandering on the side of the road.

The real trauma occurred later, when his parents were notified that he was to be suspended for leaving the school without permission.

Gloria Rodriguez recounted that Principal Denise Segars-McPhatter "waved suspension papers in front of them," stood up, said, "I cannot deal with this. I have to fax these papers." She said they were at the school for an hour trying to sort things out, and didn't see Segars-McPhatter until the end, when she informed them that she had changed her mind about the suspension.

Rodriguez said that the assistant principal, Margaret Wantuck, was very apologetic, and other staffers expressed their sympathy as well, but they were not told that the boy could return to school, and they've been unable to receive a school incident report.

assistant principal, Margaret Wantuck, showed up and was very apologetic about the whole situation.

Other staffers also expressed some sympathy and tried to provide information to the family, though the parents asked for a school incident report but were never given one.

"We need answers," Rodriguez said. "What is my son's standing in school right now? He's already behind. What will they do to keep this from happening again? What are going to be the changes? How are they going to be able to assure my son's safe?"

It's absolutely heartbreaking that these parents are having to deal with a situation like this, at a school that's supposedly used to dealing with special needs kids. Yes, they need more supervision. Yes, they need extra care. But they have a right to an education too.

Would you be horrified if your child was disciplined because of his school's failure to provide adequate supervision?


Image via Maria/Flickr

Read More >