Parents of an 11-year-old boy with special needs are furious with a school district in Washington state after his desk was moved to a school bathroom.
Danielle Goodwin, the boys mother, said that his teacher thought the bathroom would be the best quiet place for him to learn. Her son has autism and an autoimmune disorder, and does best in a calm and quiet area. Goodwin said she had discussed her son’s special needs with the teacher, but when she showed up on Monday at Whatcom Middle School in Bellingham, she discovered the solution was to put her son’s desk in the bathroom. Goodwin said:
“I was stunned. I was so shocked I just took the picture because I didn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Danielle Goodwin said the teacher also gave him a camping mat to nap on the bathroom floor. When they found the desk in the bathroom, Danielle Goodwin asked if there was another possibility, perhaps the library, but the teacher said no, and indicated the school was currently not using the bathroom. Goodwin added:
“It’s not an appropriate place for anyone, but especially for Lucas with his PANDAS condition (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), he can’t be around germs. That’s something that can really affect his body. It smelled and just the thought of my son working his school day away in a bathroom was disturbing to me.”
She immediately took her son home, and he said he doesn’t want to go back to Whatcom Middle School.
A Bellingham Public Schoolspokeswoman told KOMO News that space has been an issue at the school and the desk was set up last weekend. She said in a statement:
“I can tell you that we are aware of the situation, and that we have taken immediate steps to remove the desk depicted in the photo and ensure that this space is not used as a learning space. While we aren’t able to share specific details about our students, we can tell you that keeping our students safe and engaged in learning are our top priorities. We received a complaint this morning, and we are continuing to investigate.”
Shannon McMinimee, an attorney for the Goodwin family told CNN:
“I can’t believe that there was anybody that thought this was a good idea. There’s a lot of different ways you can accommodate students with disabilities without humiliating them.”