Autistic student humiliated after teacher moved his desk to bathroom
Danielle Goodwin, a resident of Washington, posted a Facebook photo that went viral. This photo is of her son, Lucas, standing in a bathroom of Whatcom Middle School. What's different of this photo is that there's a desk placed on a toilet and a chair.
This is the idea of a teacher to solve the 11-year-old boy's current situation in their school. To add insult to injury, they even gave him a camping pillow to lie down on the tile floors when he feels tired. This is the school's way of addressing Lucas' learning challenges as he suffers from autism and an autoimmune disorder.
While the talk between his mother Danielle and the school administration was all positive in choosing with Lucas' learning place to be a library, conference room or an unused office, the administration proceeded with this ludicrous idea of placing the child in a bathroom instead.
According to the family's attorney, Shannon McMinimee, Lucas was struggling to transition from elementary to middle school. That is why the family and administration were looking for options so Lucas can learn much better. However, Goodwin discovered during a school drop-off that his son was relocated into a bathroom.
This only caused the child to be humiliated.
In his post, Danielle wrote that, “My son has special needs and does best in a very quiet place. This was his teacher's solution...yes, that is my son in a bathroom. Yes, that is my son's desk over a toilet. She also provided a camping mat and pillow for him to nap....on the bathroom floor. I asked if he could work in the library and she said no. She also said it was fine for him to be in there because they ‘don't use it as a bathroom. My son was humiliated, embarrassed, and disgusted at this inhumane suggestion that he work in a bathroom. I immediately took my son home and he will not be returning. When we got home he was throwing up from the anxiety. How is this best practice? How is this ok? We must do better.”
Danielle spoke to Lucas' special-needs teacher who chose not to provide a better workspace for him. She proceeded to reach out to the superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools and made a formal complaint.
A spokesperson for BPS cites problems in funding, and that due to federal policy, they cannot discuss this to the public. It also seems like they are questioning the post's accuracy in this matter.
School superintendent Greg Baker actually commends the school for this idea, saying that it was an unused restroom so it's fine to turn it into "repurposed space" for Lucas. He claims that this idea is well-intentioned and will not move forward with it.
Since September 16, Lucas stayed at home. McMinimee says that there are more questions to explore with one of it being Lucas' situation, if he will be forced to go back to the bathroom or if he will return to the same teacher's classroom.