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Spokane, WA: Father alleges severely autistic girl held in unpadded room numerous times

Dec 18, 2018, Spokane (WA) Spokesman—Review: Father alleges autistic daughter abused, injured at Shadle Park High School A severely autistic teenage girl endured severe physical abuse this year while being held in an unpadded room at Shadle Park High School, her father alleges. On three occasions, Katie Pope, a 15-year-old from Bellevue, suffered injuries that required treatment at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. “This is a challenging time for us,” said her father, attorney Richard Pope, who removed her from a Spokane group home last week and returned her to Bellevue. … Renewing a process that began last spring, Pope is again seeking placement for a daughter who he says cannot be managed at home. Pope’s situation highlights several issues: the lack of appropriate housing in the Seattle area for high-needs children, many of whom are being sent to Spokane; low funding for special education throughout the state; and how schools must deal with crises. In the meantime, Pope has taken to social media to demand the termination of several Shadle officials and Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger. “My daughter was severely physically abused and neglected by staff at Shadle Park High School,” Pope posted Monday on Facebook. The posts drew hundreds of responses, some critical of the school but others blaming Pope for placing his daughter in danger. Shadle parent Nelly Bean wrote to Pope, “My son had to ride the bus the day your daughter had a fight with one of the other special-needs kids. And my son had to run to the back of the bus and exit the emergency door for his safety.” … Pope’s criticism of the district centers on the use of an unpadded isolation room in Shadle’s ABLE (Autism Behavior Learning Environment) classroom. Pope says that his daughter was placed in the room “a dozen or more times” this fall. … However, Coddington said Shadle is working to place padding on the door in the ABLE classroom. … Katie, who is nonverbal, began school at Shadle on May 22. By law, public schools in Washington must accommodate all students, including those with special needs. However, special-needs programs in the state are underfunded despite the recent influx of funding that followed last year’s McCleary decision. … The rooms are used nationwide, usually to help the student return to a calm state so they are no longer a danger to themselves and others….

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