Father of special needs child upset after teacher restrains chil - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Father of special needs child upset after teacher restrains child in chair

Source: Waco ISD Source: Waco ISD
Source: KXXV Source: KXXV

The father of a 5-year-old with special needs is upset after he said his child was restrained in a chair at the elementary school he attends.

George Sandoval said his child, Reagan, recently became afraid of going back to South Waco Elementary.

"When I would mention school is in the morning. Let's go to bed, he was in a panic mode,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said his son's reaction prompted him to believe something happened at school. He said when he asked his son what occurred, he used the word "tight." Sandoval claimed he learned about the incident after his teacher called on Tuesday to ask why he was absent from school for four days.

“I was informed about a chair then. I never knew about a chair. I didn't know there was protocol for them to restrain an autistic kid at 5 years old,” Sandoval said.

Waco Independent School District Director of Communications Bruce Gietzen said restraining is not part of the district’s protocol.

"Waco ISD does not use any restraining tools. We do use a non-violent intervention something called CPI only when a child is a danger to himself or others," Gietzen said.

Gietzen said the 12-inch high chair with a seatbelt Reagan was put in is not supposed to be used for restraint, but instead for medical purposes. Only four children in the district use the chair, which is prescribed by physical therapists to help children who have trouble sitting up straight.

According to Gietzen, Reagan was restrained after he became upset because he wasn't allowed to leave the classroom with a counselor who had brought toys to the classroom. He went on to say that one of the times he was restrained, it was only for one minute. 

"The first year teacher got some erroneous information on whether they could use the chair. She put the child in the chair and sat there with him and just used the seatbelt,” Gietzen said.

Sandoval who had not seen or received a description of the chair before News Channel 25 interviewed him pictured the chair differently.

“I have this image and it hurts me that he had to go through it not once but twice of a chair maybe with arm straps or leg straps. But to see him scared, traumatizing him, is what I see,” Sandoval said.

After News Channel 25 gave the parent Gietzen's description, Sandoval said he still has concerns.

“It traumatized my son. They should've never put him on that chair regardless if it was throwing a little tantrum,” Sandoval said.

Gietzen said the chair has been removed from the classroom and staff will be retrained to make sure they are aware of the proper procedures and of when the chairs should be used. In addition, he said parents have been given the option to transfer their child to another classroom and receive counseling to get acclimated to the new classroom.

"We want to do what's best for the child at this point and whatever we can to help him get used to the new environment," Gietzen said.

According to Gietzen, the decision whether the teacher would be punished would be an administrative decision.

Sandoval plans to follow up with the district on this situation. He will seek legal advice for options, if nothing is resolved with the district.

The district is still investigating the incident. 

News Channel 25 obtained a photo of the chair after 4:30 p.m.

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