Sandra Baker, a Kentucky mom picking up her son at school, was shocked to find he was stuffed in a bag – not by bullies – but by school workers who wanted to teach him a lesson.
Sandra Baker said she noticed the large green bag when she arrived at the school to pick up her son, but as she walked down the hallway, the bag moved.
Then it spoke: “Momma, is that you?”
It was her son, 9-year-old Christopher Baker, who is autistic and enrolled in a programme for children with special needs.
“He was treated like trash and thrown in the hallway,” said Sandra Baker.
Sandra Baker did not know how exactly how long he had been in the bag, but probably not more than 20 minutes.
A teacher’s aide was there, and Sandra Baker demanded that her son be released.
The mother said: “I tried to talk to him and get his side of the reason they put him in there, and he said it was because he wouldn’t do his work.”
Sandra Baker said when Mercer County school officials called the family to pick him up, they were told he was “jumping off the walls”.
In addition, Sandra Baker learned that it wasn’t the first time that he had been put in the so-called “therapy bag”.
The incident, which occurred on December 14, has spawned an online petition calling for the firing of the school employees responsible.
The district’s Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis said confidentiality laws forbid him from commenting.
Dennis Davis said in a statement: “The employees of the Mercer County Public Schools are qualified professionals who treat students with respect and dignity while providing a safe and nurturing learning environment.”
State education officials said they were investigating.
Christopher Baker is a student at Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg in central Kentucky.
The day had barely begun when his family was called to the school because the boy was acting up.
At first, the aide struggled to undo the drawstring, but the boy was pulled out of the bag, which had some small balls inside.
Sandra Baker said the bag resembled a green Army duffel bag.
She said: “When I got him out of the bag, his poor little eyes were as big as half dollars and he was sweating.”
Days later, at a meeting with school officials, Sandra Baker said she was told the boy had smirked at the teacher when he was told to put down a basketball, then threw it across the room.
At a meeting with school district officials, the bag was described as a “therapy bag”, Sandra Baker said, though she wasn’t clear exactly what that meant.
She said her son would sometimes be asked to roll over a bag filled with balls as a form of therapy, but she didn’t know her son was being placed in the bag.
So far, nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition on the website Change.org.
Sandra Baker said she heard different accounts about her son’s behavior that day.
She stopped short of calling for the dismissal of school employees, but she said they should be suspended.
They also need more training, she said.
In Kentucky, there are no laws on using restraint or seclusion in public schools, according to documents on the state Department of Education’s website.