Child with Down Syndrome sent home from school with shoes duct taped to legs

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Wayne Township parents made an awful discovery when they picked their child up from the bus stop Monday.

According to police documents, parents Nathaniel and Elizabeth Searcy claimed someone duct taped their 8-year-old daughter’s legs in order to teach her a lesson.

The child, who has Down Syndrome, attends the Life Skills Program at Westlake Elementary School.

The Searcys told police they knew something was wrong when they went to meet their daughter at the bus stop. They said the bus driver told them they needed to take a look at the little girl’s feet.  That is when they saw duct tape wrapped tightly around her ankles, strapping her shoes to her feet.

According to the police report, the father had to carry his daughter off the bus because he said she was unable to walk due to the tape being so tight. The report also stated the school had trouble getting their daughter to keep her shoes on in the past, but the school would typically call the child’s mother.

It’s still not clear who applied the duct tape to the girl’s ankles.

“When she gets tired, she wants to get her shoes off,” said Nate Searcy. “I mean we’re home before she comes home from school so there’s no reason why they couldn’t call us. I just don’t know why it was any different this time.”

The girl’s father said he will not be sending his daughter back to Westlake Elementary School until he gets answers from the district about how this happened.

“Any parent would have a problem with it if their kid comes home and they have duct tape around their shoes and feet, it’s ridiculous,” Nate Searcy said.

Police are investigating the incident and have notified Child Protective Services.

The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township spokesperson Mary Lang issued the following statement to Fox59 Tuesday morning:

“We have had the opportunity to meet with the parents of the student involved in this reported incident and have begun our own investigation. We have notified the Indiana Department of Child Services of the incident, and if warranted, we will file a report with the agency. We have also involved our own law enforcement officers in the investigation. When the investigation into this incident is concluded, we will take appropriate action.”


  • April

    That is just crazy if the staff can't handle a special needs child then why offer the program. They need alot more time and attention and love the rest. Who ever did this needs to be fired and not work in the field again.

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      >an't handle a special needs child then why offer the program.

      Because the government mandates it, that's why.

      • Anna

        Not all schools have programs or the support for special needs students. This school is basically a "magnet" school for special needs students…

        I hope who ever did this gets there karma back, no reason that should have happened to the child.

    • Lisa

      The program may be offered because it is state/federal mandated–laws say programs must be in place but that old funding issue always comes into play–there just isn't enough money to properly fund all the programs the government puts into place.

    • Clareena D

      Exactly such an abusive way to teach, person doing this should be jailed for abuse and intent to further harm the child. Such a very sad story for the butterfly angel! I hope your little legs are healing. My prayers for the parents and special needs children. Online schooling might be an option if you could find a licensed teacher to help! You have very good cause, duct taped to the skin can lead to cancer, and cut circulation of the blood can lead to damaged skin and blood cells also slowing down the blood flow to the other parts of the body causing further damages with current Medical condition.

    • Josh Sibert

      It’s sad that someone would treat an inicent child in such a way, led alone a child who has special needs. In a time when children are being shot at in schools, you would think our society would be extra understanding. Whomever is responsible should be held accountable for his or her actions with punishment of the highest degree.

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    >but the school would typically call the child’s mother.

    Was the mother called this time but didn't respond? I'll put $50.00 on yes or she did respond in a non-helpful way.

    So what was the alternative? Let the girl go walking around barefoot in the ice and snow?

    I smell something here and it smells like bullsheet.

    • Starrdust16

      The mother specifically says in the article, that she was not informed. So, yes, I smell it too, and it seems that someone has NO reason to work with children if abuse ends up being the end result.

    • Kathyjl47304

      This makes me sick to think someone would think this was ok. Do you mean the mother did not respond in a helpful way b/c this is a special needs child? If the parents did not care they would do nothing aboout this. You should take your $50.00 and go educate yourself. I feel sorry for your children if you have any.

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      Fox59 keeps censoring my responses so I will leave it at: All of y'all need to take a remedial reading/comprehension course.


    • bmiller

      I would have to agree. I was a SBDriver for handicap children and they are very sweet children. Never had a problem with them, just gave them LOVE

    • theadvocator

      IT'S THE SCHOOL'S LEGAL BURDEN under IDEA laws, not the parents to make sure the child's needs are met at school. If the school can't handle it, then the district has to figure out a different place for the child's eduction. Least restrictive and must be appropriate for that specific disabled child.

      All educators are made aware of their legal obligstions under IDEA before they step foot into a school to work. If they can't handle that obligation then maybe McDonalds is hiring.

    • kids without a voice

      How dare you put a different standard to a special needs child. You would not say these horrible inhumane things if this child did not have downs syndrome. If this child was a normal student you would be outraged!!! When is the abuse going to stop!! I just saw a 170 pound female aide grab a 25 pound boy with downs syndrome by the arm and wrench it behind his back as hard as she could. He screamed in pain & cried. The reason-he has audio sensory sensitivity and reacted to it being to loud in the lunch room. I could barely stand the noise! Oh- he scratched her arm while reacting to the unbareable noise!! These people are the worst type of abusers. And we are thinking about giving them guns. Next they will be shooting our special needs children. The ones we are trusting to help them. If we did this as parents child services would take them away and put us in jail!

      • ClanSmokeJaguar

        How dare you be a moron who failed to comprehend what I wrote.

        >Next they will be shooting our special needs children.

        lol! Now, that's just plain stupid.

    • casperdoggy

      I agree with Jaguar. Whats the big deal if they were not so tight that they was painful or harmful. I imagine they were not that tight and the parentsare being over protective as most of you are.

      • ClanSmokeJaguar

        I know what the father "said" and there's a wide divide between that and the possible truth.

        As I stated before, my wife is a teacher and you'd be stunned at the parents who refuse to come pick up children who are sick…fevers over 100, throwing up, etc…and/or get angry that they do have to come get them,

      • theadvocator

        Clans I was on a district committee that showed the majority of my district's parents of special needs students showed up 99% of the time as asked by the school for meetings and so on. Do you know how many non disabled students' parents don't even show up for parent teacher conferences? u r picking on the wrong group of parents. Give up

      • theadvocator

        Further… special needs students' parents sacrifice far more for their kids because it's simply required and do so without complaint or resentment. They understand from their child's early age that they are are their kids have and so their kids are the parents TOP priority. Many of them work jobs far below their capability if it means they can be available for their kids.

      • theadvocator

        oops…They understand from their child's early age that they are ALL their kids have and so their kids are the parents TOP priority.

    • Compasionate1

      You as well as this unknown person should be treated the same. This little girl DID NOT deserve that treatment. If that were my child I would be in JAIL because of people like you…….You Are Filth And You Disgust Me!

    • Compassionate1

      The alternative would be to follow government regulations as to caring for special needs children (just remember she was 8 years old with special needs) AND NOT BE LAZY!!!!!!!

  • dawn

    i have a daughter with downs' and my daughter has issues with things also, but if the someone in the school system ever did that to her, the one responsible wouldnt have to worry about an investigation just some medical bills

  • Star Mckinney

    My childern have bee going to Westlake Elementry for 6 yrs,I have never heard of any actions taken like that to a student.This is very shocking news.Westlake has been well kept up with great respectful staff,Im not sure on what haapen with this situation,but i do the principal Ms Mruff will take action n making this right.She is soo sincere with all of her student their at Westlake.Im am deeply concern bout the child as,would any parent.Im just stating my personal experience with Westlake Elementry n i trust the staff and facualty to know how to take care of our students n the most conductive way.A very concern mother.

    • ClanSmokeJaguar


      Are you sure you're not a student of this school or were you driving while typing this into your mobile device?


      • Star Mckinney

        No im not a student,Like i had said im a very concern parent n no its not ok for that to happen to that lil girl.Yes i did write it in a hurry.That was my personal opinoin on that school itself.So before u try to put someones opinoin in the funnies please read it all the way throught.My deepest regards do go out to the lil girl n her family.On another note I have never had an issue at Westlake concerning any harsh punishment to my childern or any other students.So plz remember this is my opinoin,im not asking for any comments!Im gonna stand up for a great school.Whomever done this should be fired!!!

      • Snugbug

        Star, Clan was commenting on your extremely poor spelling and grammar – not your personal opinion. We'd be happy to "read it all the way through", but it's rather difficult to do when what we're reading doesn't make much sense.

    • Anonymous

      My children go to Westlake also and I have had issues with plenty of staff there. I have also worked in the Elementary schools and seen how some of the staff treat the children. In my opinion Wayne Township has gone downhill over the years…

    • theadvocator

      Hi Star. Here is the problem…unless you have a special needs child you will never understand. I've seen really nice schools that people love be very terrible in how they can treat special needs students. Under IDEA law your school has to accommodate the special needs of students they know have disabilities. And sometimes schools hire people who seem nice but behind closed doors they are very rotten to these kids. It's just a different world. Feel blessed if it's not happened to your kids.

  • gravedog1989

    I guess the people that thinks this is ok, doesnt have any special needs kids of thier own. Duct tape should never be used on a child at any point in time. The people who thinks it is ok would have a fit if thier child came home with duct tape on thier mouth because the kid wouldnt stop talking. If its wrong to use duct tape on your childs mouth, its also wrong to duct tape a special needs kid. Why dont people think about how they would react if this was thier kid? It could happen again and the next time it might be your kid. Love the kids! Dont make them fear you in this way!

    • Clareena D

      AMEN! I agree with you, the teacher should be punished with lots of jail time, although the other teachers should not be ridiculed over someone elses poor actions. The teacher who did this should be barred from all schools and not allowed anywhere besides jail for a very long long long time!

  • Joyce

    I am outraged at this! I have worked with special needs children and this totally uncalled for ! I have yet to see a child that needs to be duct taped. I hope the person who did this is able to sleep at night……I also hope they are fired, they sure don't need to be working with children if they don't have the patience to do so.
    ( Also, I can't believe some of the comments on here,)

    • Clareena D

      Amen agreed 100% there. I work with special needs children everyday in my area and I love every minute of it without being paid cash, its called mothers everywhere watching out for the little ones! Hearts for children!

    • politicaljules

      So you are saying it is ok to duct tape children to the point of them being hobbled? What indication do you have that this father and mother were not raising their own child? Are you saying they should homeschool their own child? I'm ok with that.

    • trish

      everybody raises their own kids..what is wrong with some of you people? special needs children deserve to be able to have an education just like everybody else….if you can not handle the role of a special needs teacher or bus driver..whoever did it then dont transport them or teach them..plain and simple.

    • jerry

      listian here your stupid love life basterd how in the hell is it ok to abuse an kid you tell me that what if it was ur kid

    • umpire

      this is a silly way to make your point snyder. 1. people raise there kids 2. You have to understand raising a kid with DS and one without are two things and very hard to do with both. they go to school to learn. that what parents are teaching there kids to do. So i guess if your kid acts up in school you should raise them up to be better right?

    • David

      You sir show an adundance of ignorance or stupidity or possibly both. Please feel free to crawl back under that rock you came from and take your moronic comment with you.

    • brendad

      Oh, the whole, its against the law thing, maybe. Not everyone has the luxury to stay home with their child.

    • Veronica

      You mean "educate" your own kids? Because schools don't "raise" children. Parents do (or should). Schools play a major role, but schools and parents are supposed to work together.

    • Kristina

      This is probably the dumbest comment I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure the parents raise their kids…But for most of their day, children have to be in school and parents should not have to worry during that time.

  • Kelsey

    Even if she was not "Specal needs", No child should be injured or humiliated at school. It is supposed to be their safe haven and teachers are not doing their jobs. As for a comment made about raising your own kids, what the hell does that have to do with education. send my children to school for learning not to be abused.

    • Clareena D

      Amen! Kids are not kids they are proper form children and a special needs child is one that needs doubled timed care sometimes triple! My cousins are special needs and so was a few others in my family so naturally I was raised with heart for them! Payment comes from the joy you feel afterwards! Kelsey I am agreed with you 100%!

  • Shawna Beers

    I am a mother of an autistic child and he went to a Wayne township school. I fought with the school for several months and was very unsucessfull. The had my child put in handcuffs by the police, would put him in a room very small with things he could have hurt himself or others with and surrounded him with several staff members and let him destroy the room. When he would go into a rage they would let him go home. I have since moved him to damar day academy and they have been a amazing with him. We also had shirts made for the walk for autism and allowed company's that sponsored us to put their names on the shirts they refused to let the kids wear these shirts because liquor barn was one of the companies. We then covered the liquor barn part and they still would not let them wear the shirts.

    • theadvocator

      So sorry that happened to you. hope you pushed a grievance or two their way via the IDEA laws. Glad he's in a good place now. Don't blame them about Liquor Barn not being acceptable, I think once they saw an alcohol source sponsoring it, they for legal reasons had to say no. But the rest, yeat that's terrible.

  • Reeda

    I have a granddaughter with special needs I don't care what the reason is you would never do no crap to her like that Just saying……..

  • Rachel

    It hasn't even been determined if this was something the school did, or a horrible child being mean. So let's get the facts, then react. Indy loves to jump the gun before they get their information. There is ALWAYS more to the story. I thought we all learned that during the south side house explosion? I used to work with developmentally disabled children for a living… so trust me when I say that if it was in fact the school, there will be hell to pay. But lets not bad mouth an entire school system and a program before we are sure they were at fault!

    • Mary Miller

      If it was another child being mean who duct taped her, the teachers are just as much at fault for not supervising the children better.

      • Rachel

        But honestly though, if a teacher or administrator saw that that happened, don't you think they would remove the tape to escape the accusations that it was them?? It wouldnt make sense for them to do this one bit. That's why I say more details should come out before everyone jumps to conclusions!

      • theadvocator

        . Administration can't be everywhere at one time…truth is the buck stops with them but many times in schools principals are the last to know,…

    • umpire

      there two sides to a story but why would a bus driver tell the dad to come on the bus and look as his own kid? he knew something was wrong when the child got on bus but probably didn't want to say anything to school so he said to the parents. I am sick of adults thinking that the school are so innocent there not.

      • Rachel

        Well you are barking up the wrong tree because thats not what I said at all. I have tried to reply in a very respectful and detailed way but Fox59 has refused to post my comments.

    • theadvocator

      well lets see there is a big set of laws Emily that are called the IDEA laws and it stipulates that such things are not suppose to happen. It's considered inappropriate and too restrictive. The police themselves called CPS because even they knew it was against the law. You are the one who needs to grow up enough to do your homework. The disabilities popluation and those of us who are looking out for them are NOT going to stand for society being so ridiculous anymore towards our kids! And the school is responsible for the conduct of all the kids not being an issue for this child.

  • Andrew Chase

    The story leads with legs duct taped together. How about the reporter KNOW the story and not make things up. OH WAIT, that is how the news works now. They make outlandish claims just to incite people.

    Here legs were not duct taped together according to the story I read.

  • courtnet

    whoever has done this to those poor children or child needs the same things done to them…thats crap…and its simply wrong… whoever did this needs to be humiliated just like they did to that child and their family…those teachers deserve to be fired or worse arrested for neglect

  • Paris

    awwww that is just sad!… no parent would want to send thier child back to a school especially not knowing exactly who did it….

  • JCofOK

    No child should ever be restrained. I have a "special needs" child and if anyone had ever restrained him there would have been big trouble. I think the only thing that needs to be restrained are people like you.

  • guest

    Yes the child may have needed some form of restraint, but aren't the people working with them suppose to fave MANT training??????????????????
    AND …. I don't believe that duct tape should be used as a form of restraint!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • guest

    I hope the person that is responsible for doing this has to answer for their actions, this is unacceptable in so many ways and not just for special needs.

  • theadvocator

    Even with out NCLB, there are the IDEA laws. My son would have never gotten a chance for an education without the IDEA laws. because of them he reads at a college level inspite of being autistic and he is in a setting that suits his needs. He also is being given job training through the IDEA laws. He'll be more independent because the law forces the public schools to provide for his educational needs. people like indyowriter if it were left up to them, my son would be given nothing i bet.

  • nicole

    This shouldn’t be done to ANY child, one with a disability or one without. Whomever did this obviously doesn’t belong in the school system. It’s up to the school to protect the children they teach. The truth will come out!

    • umpire

      Joe you want the school side here your answer from the school

      " We don't comment on rumors or disciplines to the public"

  • none

    It seems like too many school districts completely fail at appropriately handling their special ed students these days. My child was physically abused at Rise Learning Center in Perry Township, and more than half a dozen other allegations have also been made by other families. Southside Special Services didn't even call CPS, like the law says they must. At least MSDWT made a mandated report and opened an investigation. Still, what are we parents supposed to do when there is nowhere safe and trustworthy for our kids? With the autism epidemic, the numbers of kids needing special ed services are only going to increase even as funding is slashed. It's not a good combination.

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      Oh! So you disagree and consider GWB Senior a Conservative?

      Fascinating but maybe not so coming from a moron who is quick to label somone.

    • BrendaD

      Great idea, guess what, some of us don't have that luxury or it is not right for our special needs kids. My son does better for teachers at school for me, and I can't homeschool. What is stupid is by saying this you're blaming the family for putting their child in school. You are as much of the problem with the school system as the bad teachers that are out there. Telling people they need to homeschool doesn't do a thing to change the system.

  • Sally D

    I was a teacher for many years. I started out working with with special needs kids too. I never even had duct tape in my possession. Or handcuffs, rope or any other kind of restrictive materials. Why would you ? Maybe if the furniture was falling apart. To use any restrictive measures on a wee girl like this is totally immoral, unprofessional and also abusive. Whoever did this should be removed from the system immediately with notes on her record to the effect that he/she is not to be left in charge of any children, again.

    • martinstucky

      Whoever did this is par for the course in Special education departments with West Central Joint Services.

  • Johnathon MIller

    My daughter has Downs and its things like this that makes me want to home school her myself, these people make me sick and if it was my daughter i would rip the doors off this building and have a "Talk" with the person in question myself!

  • Lydia

    If a parent did half the things to a child that we are always hearing about happening in the schools, they would be charged with child abuse.

  • Abe Bagel

    Spare the rod and spoil the child. As the twig is bent so the tree will grow. One rotten apple spoils a barrel, etc., etc.

    Educators need tools like tasers, waterboards and yes even duct tape to produce obedient citizens who follow rules. Only terrorists disagree.

  • Cindi L

    My comment spoken out of righteous indignation gets deleted but Abe can spew such ignorant garbage……hmmmmmmmmm

  • martinstucky

    The problem is there is no accountability in the system. Even if you file a complaint with the DOE and the school is found in violation they do not even get a slap on the wrist. They usually have to write a letter stating they won't do it again, and again, and again… Most school districts have multiple letters like this on file at the DOE and absolutely no reason to change. They do not follow the law. They don't care. And as long as a former teacher's union boss is in charge of the DOE they never will!

  • martinstucky

    The problem is there is no accountability in the system. Even if you file a complaint with the DOE and the school is found in violation they do not even get a slap on the wrist. They usually have to write a letter stating they won't do it again, and again, and again… Most school districts have multiple letters like this on file at the DOE and absolutely no reason to change. They do not follow the law. They don't care. And as long as a former teacher's union boss is in charge of the DOE they never will!

  • anonymous

    I just wish they would FIRE!!!! teachers like this. I had one grab me by the throat and threaten me with scissors. Just because I had ADHD and was a little hard to deal with. Listen if you you can’t handle kids of All kind, GET OUT OF EDUCATION!! It took me a few years to be able talk to the teachers at my son’s school. Scars from your childhood can last forever!

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