An ABA school.— A.I.M (@AIMautistic) April 11, 2018
Are we surprised? https://t.co/uHgzSxBhXL
Two educators at a special needs school called Hope Academy in Baton Rouge are being let go after audio surfaced of them making inappropriate remarks about an autistic child.
The child's mom, Milissa Davis, had noticed unusual behavior in her child at home, including aggression and wetting the bed. This made her suspicious of what might be going on at school and prompted her to slip an audio recorder in her son's backpack.
She was dismayed at what she found.
"I just wanted to cry, scream, and do everything I could because it was so bad," Davis told ABC-affiliate WBRZ. "To think that I had sent my son there every day, and what had happened before that I didn't know about."
A teacher and a teacher's aide at Hope Academy were heard in the recording, at times with the child and at other moments without him in the room.
At one point in the recording, one of the adults said to the child, "You're just writing the word. What is hard about it?" Then after the child makes a noise, she mockingly imitates him.
In another section of the audio with the child out of the room, one of the adults said, "Let's see what they do with him in f****** public school. He was going to go to Live Oak Middle. Uh ah, he wouldn't make it for a minute."
Hope Academy said it has fired one of the educators, and the other will leave at the end of the semester.
Hope Academy's website states that it specializes in teaching students with learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome, ADHD, down syndrome, cognitive disabilities, and dyslexia.
The school's principal, Linda Stone, released a statement, saying the "recording contains regretful conversations between these adults."
The statement goes on to say, "These recordings are not an indication of who we are. We ask that the community not let the actions of two persons reflect on the reputation of and the mission of our school-a mission we have tried so hard to build. We again extend an invitation to meet with the parent involved to discuss this incident further."
Mentally disabled people are often not capable of speaking up for themselves, so this mother's use of a recording device may be the best thing she could have done. Her instinct that something unethical was going on turned out to be right, and it's not surprising she would be more assiduous than other parents because the disabled are targets of abuse much more often than those without disabilities.
It's unclear how far the derogatory behavior from the teachers went, but we can assume that it doesn't reflect Hope Academy as a whole, and it certainly doesn't reflect most special needs schools.