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Hope Academy proposes changes after educators fired for mocking special needs student

3 years 6 months 7 hours ago Tuesday, April 17 2018 Apr 17, 2018 April 17, 2018 4:41 PM April 17, 2018 in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- At a meeting with parents Monday night, proposals were discussed to prevent what happened at the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy from ever occurring again.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit published an audio recording last week where you can hear two educators mocking a student with Autism. That student, Camden Davis, began wetting the bed and getting aggressive. It's why his mom, Milissa Davis decided to place a recording device in his backpack to hear what was going on. The published recordings led to the termination of one educator immediately and the other following national outrage that came as a result of the WBRZ Investigative Unit story.

Part of the disturbing audio clips are captioned below:

     ADULT: You're just writing the word. What is hard about it?

     STUDENT: grunting noise.

     ADULT: mocks noise

     ADULT: Camden, why don't you have anything written down? That's why you can't sit with everyone. Tell your momma that.

     ADULT: Let's see what they do with him in f****** public school. He was going to go to Live Oak Middle. Uh ah, he wouldn't make it for a minute.

Today, Board President Brandon Black said a number of items were discussed with parents Monday night. Among some of them: adding cameras to the school and how to pay for them, additional sensitivity training and refining background checks.

Aidan Reynolds has a son who has Autism. He said he was flabbergasted when he heard the recordings.

"The father in me was outraged, profoundly disappointed," Reynolds said. "I was angry. The lawyer in me was, how did they let this happen. How are they screening these teachers? Are they providing them with any support or sensitivity training?"

Once again today, no one from Hope Academy would do an on-camera interview. However, at least one parent who has a child there did to support the school. Dr. Jennifer Hogan said the recording does not define the good work that is happening there for other students. Hogan's 14-year old has behavior and social issues.

"They have helped us move him along," Hogan said. "He's functioning a lot better now. He's happy. He's learning. We've had a very good experience."

Meanwhile, Reynolds said he would like to see changes on the state level so this never occurs again. Reynolds would like to see Louisiana model Texas' laws when it comes to dealing with kids with special needs.

"The Texas education law allows for parents, administrators, teachers, and guardians to request both audio and video in classrooms where they are educating special needs kids," Reynolds said.

The President of the Board at Hope Academy, Brandon Black, said he would do an interview next week to talk about the exact changes that are being made. That's when a formal plan is expected to be in place.

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