Parent files complaint: against DOE - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Parent files complaint: against DOE

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - A parent of a special needs child at Inarajan Middle School has filed a formal complaint to the Department of Education's Central Office, saying her child wasn't properly supervised. Yesterday, her child was tied to a tree by another student with special needs in a nearby jungle after he was forced to turn over his lunch money.

IMS parent Doreen Cabrera says her son and all the other students with special needs are supposed to be in the care of a one-to-one school aide. Although her son was provided with one at beginning of the school year, the aide hasn't been to work because of an accident, leaving the 7th grader without proper supervision since January. Cabrera says she received word yesterday that her son was tied to a tree in a nearby jungle by another child with special needs.

She says she's upset with the fact that there was no one to supervise the kids at the time of the incident, telling KUAM News, "Nobody noticed that they were missing. They were unattended, until around 2nd period, another aide in passing noticed some movement in the jungle and so he yelled out, 'Who's in there? If anyone is in there, please come out!' So at that time when he said that, the two boys walked out of the jungle area. Granted, that he wasn't harmed and he wasn't bleeding and he didn't have any serious bodily injuries, but it could've been worse. It would've been a worst-case scenario."

Cabrera went to the principal's office yesterday, demanding answers, but was told by school officials that her child currently doesn't have a one-to-one aide because DOE lacks money to hire them. She further questioned why she wasn't adequately informed about the incident right away. She said had no one found them, things could've been tragic.

"Yesterday I was very emotional and very distraught. As parents, and with a child with special needs, we leave our children in the hands of the administrators, trusting them that their safety and well-being is taken care of. They are responsible in that manner and they're kids with special needs, you would think that they'd be more attentive to the children," she stated.

Cabrera filed a complaint with DOE's Central Office yesterday and says the agency needs to focus on the needs of the students and that leaving these kids unsupervised is unacceptable.

In the meantime, chairperson of the Legislative Committee on Education, Speaker Judi Won Pat, says parents need to be adequately informed about situations like this once it occurs. She also says the school not only needs to ensure these students are in proper care, but officials should also evaluate the way students are being supervised all around the campus.

"I think the school needs to go back and look at exactly how it sends out its school aides and where are they at a specific area when the children are out in the playground or out in the halls," said Won Pat.

KUAM News went to Inarajan Middle School to speak with school administrators about the incident. Assistant Principal Angel Legaspi told us he couldn't comment on the incident because it remains under investigation.

In the meantime, Deputy Superintendent of Educational Support and Community Learning Arlene Unpingco says they're currently looking into the incident to see whether the school followed proper protocol. The Central Office has sent over another school aide to help supervise the child. Unpingco says she expects to complete the investigation by the close of business tomorrow.

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