(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a two-part series)
VARNEY - Allegations of a special education student being physically assaulted was addressed with Mingo Central High School Vice-Principal Gordon Carter, during a phone interview with the Daily News on Friday.
According to Carter, who oversees disciplinary concerns at the school, the incident reportedly occurred earlier this week and took place during a physical education class.
Carter stated that, first of all, the incident was not what rumors have implied, and said to a certain extent, has been blown out of proportion.
“One of our special-education students came up behind another male during P.E. and reached his arms around his chest in what we think, was an attempt to hug him,” said Carter. “The boy being hugged had no idea what was going on – he simply thought someone was acting in a threatening manner and retaliated by reaching around and grabbing the student before he realized who it was.”
Carter did not release specifics about the type of injuries, if any, the special-education student received, but he did say the male that retaliated was suspended for three days.
The vice-principal stated that the suspension is a standard rule that applies in any and all circumstances where physical blows are exchanged, or during threatening and confrontational situations.
When asked if the parents of the allegedly injured student were contacted, Carter stated that attempts had been made but he didn’t know the particulars at this time, and further explained that the incident happened later in the afternoon, shortly before time for the students to be dismissed.
This created a break-down in communication, and he said that all administrative officials at Mingo Central were not aware of what had happened until the next school day. The special-education student, who according to school officials suffers from Down-Syndrome, was sent home on the bus.
Carter said that the parents of the teen have come to speak with him, and expressed concern that their son does not have a full time teachers-aid assigned to him. According to the vice-principal, there are approximately 10 special need students at Mingo Central.
The school employs one special-education teacher and one aid.
“With budget limitations, we cannot supply one-on-one aid and student assignment for all of them, although we would definitely like to,” said Carter. “We’re re-evaluating the situation to see what changes we may have to make.”
Carter said that there are a few classes that are self-contained for the special-education students that do not include interaction with others, but physical-education is not one of them.
“From our end as school administrators, we’re doing everything we can to address this and alleviate any future problems,” said Carter, “We’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to.”
While speaking with Carter, he touched on the subject of rumors about inner-school rivalry and alleged problems with continued fighting and hostility among the students.
“We do not have any problems with the consolidation issue,” he said. “I would be safe in saying that at least 98 to 99 percent of our students get along fine.”
The vice-principal explained that the fights and arguments that happen at Mingo Central are due to issues that came from within the feeder schools before they came to the new facility.
“Students that had problems with one another in the individual schools before this year are the only fights we have experienced,” said Carter.
“We have a great school with a wonderful group of students. There are problems that occasionally arise in all schools that have to be addressed and corrected and we are no exception.”
Sunday’s edition of the Williamson Daily will contain part two of this article that will include an interview with the parent of the special needs child involved in this alleged situation.