An Unacceptable Use of Duct Tape

duct tapeDuct tape has been used to fix many things, and has dozens of uses. One thing that duct tape should never be used on, however, is a child’s shoes, especially if the purpose was to prevent the child from removing the shoes while she was at school. Sadly, this really did happen.

Westlake Elementary School is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Nate and Elizabeth Searcy have two children who were attending the school: their son, Riley, who is six years old, and their daughter Shaylyn, who is eight years old. Shaylyn has Down Syndrome.

On Monday, February 4, 2013, the Searcy’s were waiting for Shaylyn’s bus to drop her off in front of their home. When the bus arrived, they saw that duct tape had been wrapped around Shaylyn’s shoes and ankles.

According to a police report, the tape was wrapped so tightly that Shaylyn couldn’t walk. Her father had to carry her off the bus. How did she get on the bus? The driver said that she was brought onto the school bus in a “restraint chair”. It was a wheelchair.

Shaylyn was not able to tell her parents who it was that taped her socks and shoes to her feet. So, the Searcy’s drove to the school to get some answers. They spoke with the assistant principal, who helped to remove the duct tape. It took 30 minutes. There were bruises on Shaylyn’s ankles.

The assistant principal took photos and said he would investigate what happened. He said that this was not school procedure. Several teachers have been placed on administrative leave. It seems that the reason why the duct tape was used was because Shaylyn would often remove her shoes while at school.

Kim Dodson is the assistant executive director of The Arc Indiana. It is an advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities. She points out that this type of situation could happen again to other children with disabilities because Indiana has a lack of limitations when it comes to school “seclusion and restraint” policies. She said:

Seclusion and restraint methods are a last resort.

Schools should be required to have a policy where every child, disabled or not, has the right to education and is treated with dignity and respect and a healthy and safe environment in which to learn.

The Searcy’s have since removed both their children from Westlake Elementary School and enrolled them in another elementary school. I think this is a very reasonable decision.

Image by woodleywonderworks on Flickr