Parents report bus driver used duct tape to restrain student with Asperger syndrome

A Missouri school district is facing outrage from parents this week after reports surfaced that a 5-year-old boy was duct taped as punishment for an outburst.

Two weeks ago, an angry mother called the Johnson County, Mo., Sheriff's office to report suspected child abuse.

According to the police report filed that day, the alleged abuse included her son being bound by duct tape at Chilhowee School.

The report states witnesses saw the school bus driver and the Chilhowee principal using duct tape to restrain a 5-year-old boy's hands. The kindergartner has Asperger's syndrome and, according to his mother, was upset at that moment.

The mother of the boy, who filed the report, said another parent told her the school bus left the school once on Sept. 25, and then returned after her son had an outburst. That's when the duct tape was allegedly used for restraint.

"I don't know what I would have done," reacted parent Shawn Holt. 

Holt said he was infuriated by the allegations. Holt's seven-year-old son also attends Chilhowee School.

"I think there ought to be criminal charges involved not only on the school bus driver, but also on the school because they covered this up for at least a week," he explained.

Superintendent Jeff Blackford refused an offer to comment on Wednesday and would not say if those involved in restraining the boy have been removed from duty or if he had communicated with parents since the alleged incident.

However, he did share a statement with Scripps Missouri station 41 Action News, part of which claimed "We hold all our staff members to very high standards and we expect our staff to appropriately supervise and manage students at all times."

Parent Linda Lujan sees the situation very differently than school district officials, and had a strong message for them.

"Get off your butts and teach your staff how to deal with kids with disabilities," Lujan said.

Her 7-year-old son Connor has Asperger syndrome, too, and Lujan claimed he was threatened by the same bus driver.

"He told us that he started yelling and was kicking the seat and Mr. Mike (the bus driver) stated that if he didn't shut his mouth, he was going to duct tape him," she recounted.

In the end, Lujan said Connor avoided duct tape restraint.

The allegations remain under investigation by sheriff's office and the school district.

Read a pdf of the full statement from the Chilhowee School.

Friends of the boy who was reportedly duct taped told 41 Action News the family is conducting its own investigation and is planning to pursue legal action.

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