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Mother of 10-year-old special needs child arrested says school not equipped for care

WPEC

A mother is in shock after her 10-year-old son with autism was arrested Wednesday. Okeechobee County School Resource Officers arrested the child for allegedly attacking a teacher in 2016. However, the child’s mother, Luanne Haygood claims the school district isn’t properly equipped to deal with children who have autism.

Haygood recorded her son’s arrest on her cell phone.

“He has autism. He doesn’t know what’s going on," Haygood is heard saying on the video recorded on Wednesday. "He’s scared to death. He’s 10-years-old.”

Haygood could only watch as her son John Haygood was arrested Wednesday. He’s accused of punching and kicking his teacher at Okeechobee Achievement Academy. The altercation allegedly left the teacher with scratches and other marks.

John has been homebound for months, but went back to school for mandatory testing Wednesday.

A school resource officer recognized him when he came to school and confirmed he still had an outstanding warrant for the assault.

“I asked, 'Are you going to arrest him right now?' She said, 'Yes ma’am, we have to,'” Haygood said.

“It was horrible,” John said.

John was cuffed, arrested and taken to juvenile detention.

“People kept cussing at me,” he said.

John said he was only fed one meal during his time behind bars. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

John saw a judge Thursday morning and was released under house arrest. Haygood claims this would have never happened if there were proper schooling services to address his disability.

“It’s nationwide, and these children are not getting the services they are guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” Haygood said.

She hopes this story will shed light on how the special needs of children with autism are not being addressed.

“Now, maybe something will be changed," she said. "Now, maybe somebody will believe me and other parents when we say our kids are being mistreated."

The school district tells CBS 12 they cannot comment on the specific incident due to educational laws, but provided us with the following statement.

It has been district procedure to invite students in to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The district would not invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.
The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists. As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.
The district is unable to provide specific information as to both current and past incidents regarding this or any other student due to educational laws and rules. It is our hope that we can continue to work with all families to help their students improve both behaviorally and academically." –Okeechobee County Schools.

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