Mom Says Her 7-Year-Old Daughter Was Kept in Cage at School

A mom is suing elementary school administrators and a special needs teacher after she was horrified to discover how they had been treating her disabled 7-year-old daughter. The Fresno, California, mom made an unannounced visit to the special education classroom at Viking Elementary last May and found her daughter in a cage and wearing a soiled diaper.

Ledelldra Brooks says she called the police immediately upon discovering that her daughter was sitting in a makeshift cage, allegedly made from a baby gate and a crib gate attached to two bookshelves. 

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Brooks was having none of it. She not only contacted law enforcement, who dismantled the enclosure back in May, she also hired a lawyer to file claims against the school and the teacher.

Teresa MonPere was put on administrative leave while her special ed classroom teaching methods were put under investigation, but reports say she is now working at a different job at Addicott Elementary. Micheline Golden, spokeswoman for the Fresno Unified School District, only commented to say that the principal and superintendent wouldn't be commenting on the incident at this time.

"We take these situations very seriously," Golden said. "We conducted a thorough investigation consistent with our personnel procedures. I can’t share any outcome of that investigation because it is a personnel issue. Fresno Unified is committed to providing the best education possible for our special education students and being their advocates."

No criminal charges have been filed, but the school board is reportedly meeting next week to discuss the complaints.

At least one special education expert thinks putting children in cages is "totally inappropriate." Joe Bowling told the Fresno Bee, "This is not something I would put a child into and claim this is for their own protection. It’s a cage, this is what you would put a wild animal in ... obviously there are people in the district that need training. I can’t believe that somebody, an administrator walking in that room and seeing it, would allow that."

That's the part of the story that I'm having the hardest time with. If you look at the picture of the "cage," it's obviously an established, enclosed space. It's right there in the classroom, front and center. Was this the first time mom had been in her 7-year-old's class? Or just the first time she found her daughter in the space? What did she think it was for?

And what about other parents? Teachers? The school administrators? Was there any oversight? If MonPere is indeed working at another elementary school, and no charges have been filed, it seems that there are a lot of people condoning this.

Then again, handling a classroom full of special needs kids cannot be easy, and since we don't know the severity of this girl's disability, MonPere may have done what she had to do keep the kids safe while she was occupied with another student. Maybe not the best solution, but outside of growing an extra pair of arms, what are you supposed to do?

Do you think it's ever OK to put a child in an enclosed space resembling a cage?

 

Image via Krissy Venosdale/Flickr

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