After parent's arrest, school system admits child was removed from wheelchair with recording device
LIVINGSTON - The Livingston Parish School System admits it removed the wheelchair of a special needs child from the room where she was learning, a stunning admission that could impact a pending criminal case against the child's mother.
This week, Amanda Carter was arrested for 20 counts of illegal use of a wire, essentially a wiretapping charge. She is accused of placing recording devices on her daughter Gracie's wheelchair after the family says she began coming home with bruises.
Some of those recordings captured conversations between other adults at Live Oak High School. Live Oak administrators were aware that the wheelchair had recording devices, and in one part of the recordings adults are heard talking about who told them to move it.
"Ms. Jones said (inaudible). For what? Said it needed to be locked up."
Gracie's family believes Ms. Jones is the school's principal Beth Jones.
When WBRZ inquired whether the principal instructed someone to remove a special needs' wheelchair from a child, Delia Taylor, a school spokesperson gave the following statement.
"The student participates in ambulatory activities during the day as part of her IEP (individual education plan), including classroom interaction, physical education and physical therapy exercises. On these occasions, the wheelchair is removed from the classroom to allow for additional space. It is placed in a safe, unoccupied secure space. At times when the student must travel distances, for example, to and from the bus, the student is returned to the wheelchair for those activities."
An hour after Livingston schools released that statement, a spokesperson sent another written response saying it broke the law by sharing that information and that it should have never been sent.
"Livingston Parish Public Schools is prohibited by legal statute from identifying any student with disabilities, in accordance with HIPA (sic) regulations, nor can the district comment on the individual education plan (IEP) for students with disabilities, including information about devices that may or may not be part of that student's IEP. Thus, Livingston Parish Public Schools cannot respond to your request for a public statement."
The original admission by the school that it was removing the wheelchair raises questions about whether the wiretapping charges will hold up since employees separated the device from the child and moved it.
"I think if anyone is wrong here it's the school, and they should be looked into, not the mother," LSU Law Professor Ken Levy said.
WBRZ reached out to the school system to ask if it would be dropping the charges against Carter with the new information. They never got back to us.
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