Mother: Son was abused at special needs school

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A 6-year-old boy shouldn’t have a care in the world. Axton Tucker used to be one of those boys.

“Usually he is a very happy child,” said his mother Melinda Tucker.

But Axton’s smile is hard to come by these days. Tucker said her son is being abused at school by the people who are supposed to help and protect him. And, she said the heartbreaking part is that Axton has autism and is non-verbal.

“He’s got a 50-word vocabulary but other than that he can’t form the sentences to say, ‘This person hurt me,’” she said.

Tucker said she found a large rug burn on Axton’s side and it didn’t make sense.

“A staff member was like, ‘Oh, he’s at the nurse’s station,’” Tucker told Fox 59. “She wouldn’t explain why.”

Tucker confronted her son’s teacher at the Damar Services School.

“He was like, ‘Oh, he just got a small rug burn,’” she said. “So I was like OK, no big deal.  Kid’s trip fall, carpet, rug burn.”

She said she saw some small red spots on Axton’s legs and didn’t think much of it until later that night.

“When we got home I cooked dinner went to put him in the shower and when I took his shirt off is when I saw it,” she said. “It’s a very severe rug burn.  I wanted to get a hold of everybody and start screaming until I got answers.”

The next day she confronted the principal.

“I had to wait for her because she was in a meeting and I made them pull her out of the meeting I was like, ‘No, I want answers for my son now,’” she recalled.

She said she was horrified by what the principal told her.

“A staff member grabbed a hold of him by his feet and dragged him across the classroom, giving him a severe rug burn on his ribs,” she said.

She was told it was all caught on tape on the classroom camera. Tucker told Fox 59 the school wouldn’t let her see it.

Fox 59 also tried to get answers at the school. Damar Services School officials wouldn’t go on camera, but they issued this statement:

“The safety and well-being of our clients are our top priority. We provide services and educational opportunities to hundreds of children with severe autism each day.  When an injury or accident occurs during treatment or while providing educational services, our policy requires immediately reporting the injury or event to appropriate governing agencies for review. The policy also indicates that if a staff member is present when an injury occurs, that staff members is put off work until the internal and external investigation is completed. Due to HIPPA and client and employee confidentiality restrictions we can’t provide more details.”

Fox 59 has discovered that the incident is being investigated by the Indiana Department of Child Services and Tucker said the teacher has been suspended. She’s still worried about her son’s safety at school.

“At this point, I do want him to go to a different school,” she said.

That may happen soon. Tucker said she met with a judge, DCS and the Damar Services School. Damar told her that the school nurse will check Axton twice a day for any marks on his body before he leaves school and will call her immediately with something as simple as a stubbed toe.

And she said the accused staff member is not allowed to work at the school while Axton is there. She said the staff member is still suspended.

Tucker said the school transfer should happen within the next 30 days.

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