(INDIANAPOLIS) — An Indiana couple is looking for answers from their daughter’s former elementary school after the 8-year-old came home from her special-needs program with her shoes duct-taped to her feet and ankles.
Nate and Elizabeth Searcy’s daughter, Shaylyn, who has Down syndrome, was in her first year at the Life Skills Program at Westlake Elementary in Indianapolis. But after what the parents saw when she returned from school Tuesday, they have re-enrolled her in Bridgeport Elementary, the school she attended last year.
“Shaylyn got home and the assistant on the bus said, ‘Where’s mama?’ I looked down at my daughter, and she said, ‘My feet hurt,’” Nate Searcy told ABC News. “I noticed she had duct tape around her shoes, over and under the tops of her shoes, and up and around her ankles to keep them on.”
Shaylyn had to be wheeled to the bus because she couldn’t walk, Elizabeth Searcy said the assistant principal told her. Her dad carried her from the bus when she got home.
“Then they put her in a type of safety restraint chair, and pushed her out of the school to the bus,” she said.
Elizabeth Searcy made sure to take a photo of her daughter’s bound feet before the couple headed to the elementary school to speak with the assistant principal, who agreed that the actions were inappropriate, according to Nate Searcy.
Shaylyn likes to take her shoes off from time to time when she gets tired, her dad said, adding that such behavior is something he has observed among children with Down syndrome. He said he still does not know who bound his daughter’s feet to her shoes.
The couple has not received an apology from anyone at Westlake Elementary. Indeed, Nate Searcy said, they have not heard a word from the school about the incident since their visit. He said he found someone who works with special needs students in his school district to get Shaylyn out of the Westlake program.
Mary Lang, chief communications officer for the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, released a statement to ABC affiliate WRTV-TV Tuesday, saying, “We have notified the Indiana Department of Child Services of the incident, and if warranted, we will file a report with the agency.”
Calls placed to Lang by ABC News were not immediately returned.
Although Nate Searcy said he is looking forward to seeing Shaylyn get back to school Thursday at her old program, he still wants action taken at Westlake.
“I’d like to see people’s education backgrounds checked. I’m stunned,” he said, “Obviously, whoever did this doesn’t need to be a part of the program there.”
Elizabeth Searcy said she hopes her daughter’s story will help strengthen protection for all children in school, disabled or not.
“This is unacceptable for any child to go through,” she said.
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