8 months pass before Nanaimo mother learns autistic son locked in school storage room

By Ian Holmes
June 29, 2017 - 5:30pm Updated: June 29, 2017 - 10:36pm

The mother of a six-year-old boy learned second-hand that her autistic son was locked in a school storage room.Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — School District 68 did not tell the mother of a six-year-old boy her son was locked in a storage room at a north-end school, NanaimoNewsNOW has learned.

A substitute teacher was suspended after admitting to the Sept. 16, 2016 incident at Rutherford Elementary involving the boy, who has autism, a published agreement between the Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB) and teacher said.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools Supt. John Blain said the Ministry of Education was told immediately what happened and the TRB was alerted. However, Blain wouldn't specify why the mother was not informed.

The mother declined to comment for this story, but confirmed she didn't find out what happened to her son until it was reported by media in late May, more than eight months after the incident.

“As soon as the parent raised the issue that she had concerns around communication we set up a meeting with her immediately and had further conversations,” Blain told NanaimoNewsNOW. “We should have been in communication with her.”

District 68 confirmed the meeting between the mother and the District, which included Blain, happened in early June.

Blain said the District has reviewed the communication breakdown that took place, however Blain noted he can't comment on the findings of the review due to the privacy of everybody involved.

“It's an unfortunate scenario and I have confidence in the system that we made all the necessary steps,” he said.

The TRB report stated the boy was having a “temper tantrum” and the teacher locked him in a storage room as a result. An education assistant unlocked the door to check on the student and found him curled up in a ball crying.

Rutherford Elementary Parent Advisory Council chair Kathy Schneider said this incident raises serious questions and concerns of how the District communicates with parents.

“At what point do parents get communicated of incidents that happen at school? So that we as parents are also prepared to deal with our children and help our children,” she said.

Schneider would like to see a review of how and when School District 68 parents are notified regarding any safety, disciplinary or welfare issues involving their children.

“From a personal perspective it was just heartbreaking to know that a parent didn't know that that had happened,” Schneider said.


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