ROLLA, Mo. – A 5-year-old disabled boy was allegedly strapped down to his wheelchair at a Rolla school. The allegation has led to investigations by both police and state authorities.
Hayden Park is the oldest of five grandchildren and might be the sweetest of the bunch, his grandmother said.
“He’s my world,” said Patricia Pashia, Hayden’s grandmother.
There was absolutely nothing he could have done to deserve what happened to him at school yesterday, she said.
Restraint is not an option in his IEP, Individualized Education Plan. Pashia made a surprise visit to his school, B.W. Robinson, a state-run school for disabled children.
Pashia was dropping off his new wheelchair. She found him facing a wall, chewing on a soiled clothing protector (essentially a large bib), she said.
“It was tied around his neck and wrapped around the chair…his feet were…strapped to this bar (on the wheelchair) wrapped all the way around with Velcro. He could not move his feet whatsoever at all…he was very uncomfortable,” she said. “He had tears in his eyes. He’s not aggressive. He doesn’t bite. He doesn’t hit. He doesn’t scratch. Why would you feel the need to tie his legs down?”
Pashia took photos of red marks around his neck and legs.
“Who did this? Nobody would tell me who did it. All they told me was they don’t use restraints here,” she said.
Hayden, who loves music and seems to “sing” when he’s vocal, has encephalopathy and autism. A Missouri Department of Social Services investigator visited Pashia and Hayden.
Pashia wants to know if the person who restrained Hayden is still working at the school, and, if so, why.
A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education confirmed the investigation but said she could not comment further.
Rolla police are investigating, too.
The school has 46 students and has been in operation since the 1970s. There was a complaint from a mother last summer, but was found to be unsubstantiated.
“I don’t ever want to see a child like that again,” Pashia said. “He is a little boy, just like everybody else’s 5-year-old little boy. He has feelings.”
It may be at least month before Pashia hears back from that state investigator.
She’s looking into in-home tutoring and therapy for Hayden. He won’t be going back to B.W. Robinson School.