End abuse of Autistic students in Mercer County, Kentucky
  • Petitioned Emma Jean Tamme

This petition was delivered to:

Special Education, Mercer County Board of Education
Emma Jean Tamme
Board Member, Mercer County Board of Education
Larry Yeager
Principal, Harrodsburg Day Treatment Center, Mercer Central - Alternative School, 9th Grade Academy
Gayla Jenkins
Principal, Mercer County Intermediate School
Dana Cobb
Board Member, Mercer County Board of Education
Pattie Burke
Superintendent, Mercer County Board of Education
Dennis Davis
Principal, Kenneth D. King Middle School
Terry Gordon
Assessment/District Wide Programs/Professional Development
Jana Stratton
Board Member, Mercer County Board of Education
James Stinnett
Mercer County Board of Education
MCBE
Principal, Mercer County High School
Melissa Hutchins
Board Member, Mercer County Board of Education
Billy Montgomery
Principal, Hughes Jones Harrodsburg Area Technology Center
Duane Flora
Board Member, Mercer County Board of Education
Ron Betsher
Principal, Evan Harlow Early Learning Center
Dr. Karen Hatfield

End abuse of Autistic students in Mercer County, Kentucky

    1. Lydia Brown
    2. Petition by

      Lydia Brown

      Washington, DC

(Updated and corrected version -- Also, the text of the petition is the next tab, "petition letter")

In Mercer County, Kentucky, nine year old Chris Baker, an Autistic student, was told by his special education aide to climb inside a bag intended for therapeutic purposes as a punishment to "control his autistic behavior" on 14 December 2011. He was placed in the bag with the drawstring tightened and left in the hallway in the school. When his mother, Sandra Baker, was called to the school to get her son, she demanded that he be removed from the bag right away. The teacher struggled to undo the drawstring, and Chris emerged sweaty and non-communicative. According to the teacher, this had been done several times over the last year, but Sandra didn't know until this latest incident. While she met with state officials on Monday 19 December 2011 before a possible meeting with school officials, there is no guarantee that those meetings will prevent this kind of abuse from happening again -- either to Chris or to other students.

If you think it's wrong to tell an Autistic child to climb inside a bag not intended as an instrument of confinement and tighten it with a drawstring, which could potentially have led to serious injury or death, as punishment, then please sign this petition. This is wrong. This is abuse. It needs to stop.

Updates, 27 Dec. 2011: 

While I personally believe that the teacher more than deserves to be fired, the demand stipulates that if she not be fired (which it does request explicitly -- asking that the teacher "be dismissed from position") then she be required to complete extensive education regarding respectful treatment of Autistic students. I do not harbor any illusions that the people who are naturally malicious-minded and inclined to abuse will truly benefit or amend their ways from any amount of education; however, in the event the county Board of Education refuses to fire her, it would be better than simply allowing her to keep her job and stay in the same position where she already is now, maintaining the status quo. 

I firmly believe that the majority of teachers are people with good or decent intentions who genuinely want to support their students and not abuse them; the kind of education demanded in the second and third provisions of the petition ought to provide these people with a better foundation and toolkit for interacting appropriately and respectfully with Autistic students and students with other disabilities. I would much rather focus on what good can be gained of a horrific and disgusting situation than the good that cannot be gained from it, and that is what I hope to accomplish with this petition. 

In response to concerns about misinformation or conflicting information about the type of bag used, it was an Abilitations BagOBalls (not a duffel bag, or a gym ball bag, or a netted bag), which is intended to be used for occupational therapy, specifically sensory integration therapy through application of deep pressure; however, the teacher who told Chris to get inside the bag was NOT a trained clinician using the bag in a therapeutic setting in a manner so that he would have been free to leave of his own initiative. It was instead used inappropriately as a restraint and a punishment, not as a therapy. 

- Lydia

Update 2 Jan. 2012: I've received more than one email asking why I do not use person first language. I am Autistic. This deviation is intentional, and you can read about it and my rationale here. Please read that article and any links inside it in their entirety before emailing me demanding to know why I will not use PFL. Thank you.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 200,000 signatures
    2. Mother home-schooling autistic son placed in bag at Kentucky school

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky mother of an autistic boy who says he was stuffed in a duffel bag for misbehaving in class has pulled her son out of school, and insists if changes aren’t made he’s not going back.

      Sandra Baker said that although classes resumed today in their central Kentucky school district following the holiday break, she will home-school her 9-year-old son, Christopher.

      Baker said she won’t send the fourth-grader back to Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg until the staff is better trained to deal with children with developmental disabilities. She also insists that the teacher responsible be fired...

    3. Mother tells horrors of son being left in bag to WHAS11 News

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      (WHAS11) -- Last week, we first reported the story of a 9-year-old boy with autism, who was reportedly placed inside a gym bag by his teacher at Mercer County Intermediate School. It was apparently punishment for autistic behavior. Now, nearly 130,000 people have signed a petition supporting the family and calling for the teacher responsible to be fired...

    4. Reached 150,000 signatures
    5. 120,000 DEMAND FIRING OF GYM TEACHER WHO STUFFED AUTISTIC STUDENT IN BAG

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      (Note: It was not a gym teacher to my knowledge, but a special education aide. --Lydia)

      Explosive campaign on Change.org calls on Kentucky school district to fire teacher accused of putting autistic student in bag and to train teachers in working with special needs students...

    6. Online Petition Supports Mercer Co. Mom, Son

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      It has been two weeks and still Sandra Baker hasn't gotten an apology. That's all the Mercer County mother wanted after she said she found her Autistic son in a school ball bag. Tuesday night, Baker said if the superintendent won't meet her, she'll go to him and she's bringing the words of thousands of supporters with her...

    7. Reached 100,000 signatures
    8. Made small revisions to petition language.

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      Per concerns expressed, a few minor revisions have been made to the petition language, which can be read on the Petition Letter page.

    9. Mother condemns Kentucky school for putting autistic son in duffel bag

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      The mother of a nine-year-old autistic boy who was placed in a duffel bag with the drawstring pulled tight has called for the teacher responsible to be dismissed and for the practice to be banned.

      Sandra Baker, from Harrodsburg, Kentucky, said that her son, Christopher, has been withdrawn and uncommunicative since the incident at Mercer County Intermediate School two weeks ago.

      Baker, who was told her son had been placed in the bag as "therapy" for his autism, in a practice that has been used on other students, said she has had no apology or further communication with the school, despite promises to the contrary...

    10. Mother plans to confront school board

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky woman who has accused a school of stuffing her autistic son into a duffel bag for misbehaving plans to speak out at the next school board meeting, backed by an online petition demanding changes. Sandra Baker said Tuesday her 9-year-old son Christopher has been unusually quiet and withdrawn since she claims to have found the fourth-grader wiggling inside the bag with the drawstring pulled tight as a teacher's aide stood by in a school hallway Dec. 14. "It's to the point that I don't even know he's here," she said in a phone interview. "That's how quiet he is." Baker said she plans to attend the next Mercer County school board meeting on Jan. 19 to present the petition, circulated on the website change.org after it was begun by an autistic college student outraged by the Baker case...

    11. Reached 75,000 signatures
    12. ONLINE PETITION CALLS FOR EMPLOYEE'S REMOVAL

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      A school is accused of putting a 9-year-old boy who has autism into a duffel bag as punishment. An online petition calling for the dismissal of those responsible collected over 10,000 signatures within the first 24 hours. Did the school have the right to discipline the boy in this manner, and what action should the school district take to correct the situation? Read on!

    13. Reached 50,000 signatures
    14. Number of signatures exploding!

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      It was around 17,000 yesterday. Today, I went out the door at 18,000 signatures. I came back two hours later to 34,000 signatures. WOW.

    15. Reached 30,000 signatures
    16. Mother says her autistic son was put in bag as discipline at school

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      (CNN) -- A Kentucky woman says special education teachers put her autistic 9-year-old son inside a net ball bag as punishment at his school. The mother, Sandra Baker, told CNN Monday that she was called to her son's elementary school on December 14, because he was being unruly...

    17. Reached 12,500 signatures
    18. Nation reacts to boy with autism put in bag at Central Kentucky school

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      (WHAS11) – An online petition that was created after a nine-year-old boy with autism was stuffed into a bag at his Central Kentucky school for acting up is gaining national attention...

    19. Online petition protesting alleged abuse of autistic student gains thousand

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      The alleged abuse of a 9-year-old Kentucky boy who was stuffed in a duffle bag continues to garner national attention.

      An online petition created by an autism advocate now has thousands of signatures. 18-year-old student Lydia Brown, says when she heard about the case of Chris Baker, she had to do something.

      Sandra Baker says that earlier this month, a teacher at Mercer County Intermediate School stuffed her 9-year-old son in a duffel bag in order to control his autistic behavior...

    20. 'He was treated like trash': Mom furious as she finds out her autistic son

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      ...was STUFFED IN A BAG by school workers after he 'misbehaved'

    21. Ky. mom claims autistic son was abused by school, confined in bag

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      (CBS) MERCER COUNTY, Ky. - The mother of an autistic 9-year-old Kentucky boy claims an employee at her son's school put him a bag in as punishment.
      According to CBS affiliate WKYT, Sandra Baker says her son Chris was placed in the bag for acting out at the Mercer County Intermediate School.

      Baker says last week she was called to the school, where Chris is enrolled in a program specifically for students with special needs. She says she was told her son had been misbehaving...

    22. Reached 10,000 signatures
    23. Boy with autism put in duffle bag at school: Change.org responds

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      A young Kentucky boy and his mother have become the center of a national petition after a school employee allegedly put her son in a bag.

      Sandra Baker says the 9-year-old, who has autism, was placed in the bag as punishment for acting out at school in Mercer County. Since then, hundreds of people from across the country have signed a petition to help the family.

      His mom, Sandra Baker, says last week she was called to the Mercer County Intermediate School where Chris is enrolled in a program specifically for special needs. She says she was told Chris had been misbehaving...

    24. Parents Angry After School Put Autistic Son in Bag

      Lydia Brown
      Petition Organizer

      “God, they do not have my son in that bag …”

      That’s what Sandra Baker, of Harrodsburg, Ky., said she thought when she walked down a hall toward a big green bag, with a teacher’s aide sitting beside it, at her son’s school, on Dec. 14.

      “Mama, is that you?” a voice coming from the bag said.

      Christopher Baker, 9, is autistic and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sometimes his school calls Baker, 35, to come to the school to help calm him down, she said...

    25. Reached 9,000 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Tatum Anderson LITTLE CANADA, MN
      • 2 months ago

      There are better ways to teach good behavior.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Don Wolfe PORTLAND, OR
      • 2 months ago

      I spent a year in Kentucky, and know most of America has a long way to go before we can honestly claim we have "equality for all".

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Emilie Antoniak SEVERNA PARK, MD
      • 3 months ago

      My brother has autism

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • lejla Hodzic BOUND BROOK, NJ
      • 3 months ago

      This aide should be fired and needs a serious punishment. I don't care who you are in a school district if you actually think it is normal and okay to place a child in a bag and toss him in the hallway you have serious issues and need to be placed in an institution. Who ever this person is should never be allowed to work with children, ever again. "control his autistic behavior" Seriously unbelievable, what if Chris got hurt. Terrible that people like that are around children throughout a daily basis.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Damian Cunningham SPOKANE, WA
      • 4 months ago

      I also have a child with autism that has also been abused harassed and bullied, not by the students but from her teachers and faculty. It seems to be a national problem with the governments public schools and the only way this will ever be fixed is the teachers and faculty need to get special training on how to work with children with autism. Without training these people should not be teaching are children.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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