Elizabeth School Officials Respond to Alleged Assault of Special Needs Child in Public School

ELIZABETH, NJ – September 6, 2019 – Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer issued the following statement today related to an incident in a special needs classroom that took place at William F. Halloran School No. 22.

“A third grade special needs student in a multiple disabilities classroom received minor injuries as a result of the actions of another special needs student,” Hugelmeyer said.

“The two students, who are both non-communicative, were experiencing their first day of school in an unfamiliar classroom environment with unfamiliar staff members.

Immediate and appropriate action was taken by school staff in accordance with established protocols following the incident.”

“Children with multiple disabilities, in addition to their own personal challenges in assimilating to their environment, present unique challenges to both parents and educators.

Elizabeth Public Schools takes pride in employing staff members that undergo extensive professional development and training to address these challenges in a compassionate manner while providing a safe learning environment for students and staff.

The incident has been referred by the school’s administrative staff to the district’s Department of Special Services, which is reassessing the individual needs and appropriate placement of the students involved based on the new information ascertained as the result of this incident.”

THE FOLLOWING IS A STATEMENT FROM THE CHILD’S MOTHER POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

“This is my little sister Emily. She is 8 years old and has Down Syndrome. Today she came home with 6 bite marks ranging from a deep one on her face to some on her legs.

When my mom was told of this incident she was only told of the one on her face, it wasn’t until taking my sister to the bathroom that she noticed all the other marks.

My little sister is nonverbal so we are her voice. This is not acceptable. I am tired of Elizabeth board of Ed not taking our concerns seriously.

Today was my sister’s first day at school 22 because last school year in school 28 a teacher yanked on her arm right in front of my mom.

We sought action and she was simply placed in another school while the teacher remain employed. I am hurt that this had to happen.

I don’t blame the other child who bit my sister because I understand some children have behavioral issues or impulses.

One bite is understandable, however, i am NOT okay with knowing my sister was bit SIX times and only one of them was mentioned to us. I dropped my sister off this morning and she was nervous and scared, I could tell from her body language, to start in a new school she was unfamiliar and not yet comfortable with.

I hugged her and tried to reassure she would be okay. I can’t believe this happened in the care of that school.

I wanted to share our story because unfortunately children with special needs often get disregarded and become voiceless and i refuse to let that carry on. Emily will no longer attend Elizabeth public schools because her safety is our priority”.