Jail, probation, juvenile detention? Do any of these sound like they fit the crime?
Chantal was under increased stress due to many factors (like most pre-teen girls in junior high). Autistic children are often attached to objects and use them as a calming tool. Chantal had a toy that she brought to school to help soothe herself. The problem was, it made noise. Her social studies teacher called it a distraction and told her not to bring it back. The next morning another teacher helped remove the noise maker at Chantal's request and gave the toy back to Chantal who carried it with her all day. Chantal was actually very excited to go back to her social studies class so that she could show her teacher that she had 'solved' the problem with the noise.
When the teacher who told her not to bring it back saw the toy again she said told Chantal she could not come in with it. When Chantal tried to explain, the teacher answered, “I don't care,” which upset Chantal. She grabbed a book and threw it at the teacher before turning and leaving. Chantal said that she knew right after she did it that it was wrong and that is why she left and went to another room.
The school's police officer saw the incident via closed circuit camera and brought the teacher paperwork to file charges. Just as it happened with the first charges, the teacher noted that she was not injured by the book. This time, however, the charge was Felony Assault of a Civil Servant.
Chantal's parents are still fighting these charges and have spent thousands of dollars doing so. They had to hire a criminal defense lawyer. The school has requested mediation to deal with Chantal's future education within Frisco Independent School District. However, the teacher who filed the charges and the District Attorney are both unwilling to drop the felony charges.
Since when is it okay to blame a child with special needs for their disorders? Since when is it okay to look at an eleven year old girl and say, “I would rather send you to jail than work to help turn you into a contributing member of society someday.” Nobody said that in words, but their actions speak volumes.
It makes one wonder what any school has to gain by filing charges against students with special needs. What is worse about this story is that it is not completely unique. Several other reports of special needs children being charged criminally are popping up all over the country, including at least three others in the same Frisco school district.
When this happens, unless the story goes public and there is an outcry about the ridiculous tactics of the schools, parents often end up spending every last dollar they have to fight a system that uses taxpayer dollars to pay for lawyers and experts.
Some speculation says that it is more 'cost effective' for schools to send children to behavior programs than to provide for all of their special needs within the school. Others see this as an outlet for teachers who are suffering from burn-out. In any case, it is an issue that needs to be resolved.
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