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Special needs child's feet taped at school

Feb. 6, 2013 at 10:33 AM   |   Comments

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Special-needs students need protective laws, advocates said, after the feet of a girl with Down syndrome were duct-taped at an Indiana grade school.

School officials said they are investigating the incident at Westlake Elementary School in Wayne Township and notified the Department of Child Services, the Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.

The 8-year-old's parents, Nate and Elizabeth Searcy, said the tape was so wound so tightly around their daughter's shoes and socks that Shaylyn couldn't walk.

"It's an outrage," said Kim Dodson, associate executive director of ARC of Indiana, a special-needs advocacy group.

What happened to Shaylyn on Monday, she said, could happen to any special-needs student because Indiana is one of 20 states that don't have laws requiring school policies prohibiting excessive use of "seclusion and restraint."

"I think that it is time for the state of Indiana to do something to require all school corporations to have some type of policy on record," Dodson said Tuesday.

Shaylyn's mother, Elizabeth, said her daughter sometimes won't keep her shoes on, and that the school has called previously about it, the Star said.

"I don't know why they couldn't have called me again this time," she said.

Searcy said her daughter had duct tape from her feet up to above her ankles and was unable to exit the school bus Monday because her legs hurt.

"And it was industrial duct tape," she said. "It literally pulled fabric off her socks and vinyl off her shoes, it was so strong."

The Searcys took their daughter back to the school and sought help removing the duct tape, a procedure that took 30 minutes, the Star said. The girl's ankles sustained bruising.

Wayne Township Schools said in a statement Tuesday it has begun launched an investigation.

"When the investigation into this incident is concluded, we will take appropriate action," the statement said.

In the state Legislature, a Senate committee is scheduled to hear next week a bill that would require local school boards to approve policies on seclusion and restraint.

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