District responds to duct tape incident with training for special ed employees

Employees involved on leave during investigation

INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis school district is responding to allegations that a special needs student was duct taped at school Monday by offering ongoing training for staff and putting a number of employees on administrative leave.

The move follows allegations that an 8-year-old girl with Down syndrome had duct tape tightly wrapped around her feet and ankles at Westlake Elementary Monday.

Wayne Township schools issued a statement Wednesday saying all special education employees in the district will review the district's "Use of Seclusion, Restraint, and Aversion With Students" policy.

The school said its nonviolent crisis intervention policy has been in place since 2010.

Spokeswoman Mary Lang said the use of duct tape, which she called "appalling," does not conform with the policy.

"This isn't something we condone at all," Lang told RTV6. "This is not who we are."

Nate Searcy, the girl's father, said the tape was so tight that his daughter couldn't walk, and he was told she was wheeled out to the bus in a wheelchair.

Lang said a group of adults works in the classroom in question. She would not specify how many adults work in the room or how many have been put on leave.

Searcy said he and his wife, Elizabeth, are glad to hear that the school has identified and suspended the employees that were involved in the incident. He said they are hopeful that their situation will lead to improvements for other students.

"We hope that something is resolved," he said. "May this incident cause some changes and make a difference in today's schools."

Lang said she doesn't know how long the investigation will run, but she said it will be thorough.

"We will keep asking questions until we have all the answers that we're looking for," she said.

The Arch of Indiana, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has voiced support for proposed legislation that would have all schools adopt a policy to ensure restraint is always a last resort.

Kim Dotson, with The Arch of Indiana, said whoever duct taped the girl lacked proper training.

"That is such an extreme measure that whoever did this to this child definitely had no training of positive behavior support of behavior issues," Dotson said. "There is no situation that warrants duct tape."

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