The mother of Christopher Baker, a 9-year-old student in Kentucky, claimed her autistic son was put in a duffel bag known as a therapy bag secured by a drawstring as a form of punishment for misbehaving at school.
Sandra Baker, mother of fourth-grader Christopher, said she arrived at Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg in central Kentucky to pick up her son for misbehaving, he was screaming and wiggling in the bag.
Momma, is that you? Baker said, recalling discovering her son was stuck inside of a duffel bag.
When I walked in, I went down his hallway, and I saw this big green bag laying in the floor beside the aide that was sitting beside the bag, and I saw it moving, she told WKYT. He was treated like trash and thrown in the hallway.
Baker said her son, who is enrolled in a program for students with special needs, was placed in the bag as punishment for what she believes was about 20 minutes.
It was a drawstring at the top and it had a hole about this big around left in the top of it, Baker said. There was no way he could get out of it, could not get his head through it if he needed to.
Baker said she demanded her son be taken out of the bag, which also contained balls most likely used for gym classes.
When I got him out of the bag, his poor little eyes were as big as half dollars and he was sweating, Baker 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.
Mercer County schools Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis could not comment on the incident due to confidentiality laws but did release 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, Davis said. Upon learning of the allegations, the school system reviewed the incident immediately, and the matter is being handled consistently with School District policies and with State and Federal law.
According to Time, state education officials are investigating the incident, which according to Baker is not the first.
Baker said school officials told her the bag, called a therapy bag, had been used multiple times on students and this was not her son's first experience in the bag. Baker said her son sometimes asked to roll over a bag filled with balls for therapy, The Associated Press reported.
Local news source WKYT said an online petition, which has been signed by thousands, was started to fire the teachers involved, though according to the Department of Education, there are no laws about the use of restraint or seclusion in public schools in Kentucky.