The employees who were involved in duct taping the legs of a young girl with special needs have been placed on leave, said the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township.
The school district said they continue to investigate the incident and have spoken to the child’s family several times since Monday’s incident.
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 young girl, who has Down Syndrome, attended the Life Skills Program at Westlake Elementary School. She has since been relocated to another school in the district at the request of her parents.
“We’re in the process of really trying to figure out exactly what happened, exactly who was involved in it, and how they were involved, but there will be disciplinary action at the end of all this,” said Mary Lang, spokesperson for the school district.
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.
“We have to be somewhat careful about the information we release about the investigation but we certainly want the family to know it is underway, that we’re taking it extremely seriously, and we along with them are very appalled about what happened,” Lang said.
As the investigation continues, district officials said they are continuing their efforts to ensure educators understand techniques involved in nonviolent crisis intervention. Officials said the school district already has ongoing training to help teachers practice safe and effective behavior management techniques, which is outlined in the district’s policy called “Use of Seclusion, Restraint, and Aversion with Students,” which has been in place since 2010.
“We offer training to our teachers who work with special needs students to help then understand what the best ways are to get students who are showing behavior problems to change those behaviors,” Lang said. “We do know the process in this behavior is not a process we would endorse.”
District administrators, the Indiana Department of Child Services and law enforcement are all involved in the investigation.
“What happened here was an aberration,” said Lang. “It’s something we certainly don’t condone. It’ something we find appalling and it’s something we’re dealing with.”