Parent to file lawsuit against Aiken County School District, alleging ‘inhumane treatment’ of autistic son

CSRA News

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – The Aiken County School system is standing by a teachers decision to isolate a special needs student at Chukker Creek Elementary School.

A parent has accused teachers at the school of secluding her autistic son in an empty room by himself.

In a statement by the Aiken County School System, “de-escalation methods to include space free of items” can be used for students in “crisis” and in order to promote safety, however, the student is never left alone or prevented from leaving.

The school system has not received notice of a lawsuit, despite a press release filed by an attorney representing the family.

Statement from Aiken Co School System:

As a school district, we are committed to providing quality educational experiences conducive to support all learners, including students with disabilities. Due to federal laws prohibiting our District’s release of protected student information, we are unable to provide specific details related to your inquiry of recent student incident which has been inaccurately portrayed.

In Aiken County, a student posing an imminent threat to self or others (in crisis) is supported by a trained employee for de-escalation. De-escalation is not a means of discipline or punishment for misbehavior. Depending on the physical location of the student during his/her crisis and the school facility, a safe location for the student to deescalate could be an empty classroom, a school staff member’s office, or an identified space free of items or furniture that could be utilized by the student in crisis to harm him/herself or others.

While South Carolina’s State Department of Education does have guidelines on the use of seclusion, the use of seclusion is strongly discouraged. Aiken County Public Schools (ACPSD) does not promote the use of seclusion in our district and there are no spaces currently being used for the purpose of seclusionary time out in ACPSD. As explained by South Carolina’s Department of Education, “not every removal of a student involves seclusion…if the student is not alone, it is not seclusion, and if the student is not prevented from leaving, it is not seclusion.”

The event in question has been investigated by local law enforcement, as well as the school and district. Our investigation and that of law enforcement has indicated no wrongful action on the part of the teacher or educational aide.

We are aware that information was shared with the news media indicating a lawsuit. However, we have not received official notice.

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