Mother tells horrors of son being left in bag to WHAS11 News


by Adam Walser

Posted on December 28, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 28 at 8:02 PM

(WHAS11) -- Last week, we first reported the story of a 9-year-old boy with autism, who was  reportedly placed inside a gym bag by his teacher at Mercer County Intermediate School.

It was apparently punishment for autistic behavior.

Now, nearly 130,000 people have signed a petition supporting the family and calling for the teacher responsible to be fired.

The family says that if anything positive can come from this tragic incident, it will be that the public will be made more aware of how schools should properly deal with autistic students.

They say tying up a frightened child in a dark bag is the last way special needs children should be treated.

“It's hard when you see your kid like that. It's really hard,” Sandra Baker, choking back tears, said.

It was on Dec. 14 when Baker says she made a horrifying discovery when she went to pick up her 9-year-old son Christopher from Mercer County Intermediate School.

Christopher is autistic assigned to a special needs class.

When Sandra went to his school, she said she found him out in the hall tied up in a cloth gym bag.

“They pretty much treated him like trash. Put him inside a bag, tied him up and put him in the hallway,” Sandra Baker said.

The Bakers say the teacher admitted in a later meeting that she had used the same form of discipline several other times on Christopher and other special needs children.

“If you gave me any child that was in a regular classroom that acted up, they don't get thrown in a bag and put in a hallway,” she said.

The case has received national attention.

The Bakers appeared live on CNN Wednesday afternoon.

An online petition launched by the non-profit group has collected about 130,000 signatures.

It expresses support for the student and his family and calls for the teacher responsible to be disciplined.

A Facebook group has also been formed advocating taking a stand against restraint, seclusion and bullying by teachers.

“It's not only for Christopher. I'm doing this because I want every parent out there to be aware that this is going on in the school systems and can be happening to their child,” Baker said.

Whas11 News left messages for school officials, but they didn't return our call Wednesday.

In a release issued earlier, interim superintendent Dennis Davis said, "Upon learning of the allegations, the school system reviewed the incident immediately and the matter is being handled consistently with school district policies and with state and federal law."

As for Sandra, she's prepared to make her case at the next school board meeting.

“I told them when we walked out of that building this is by far not over and it's not,” Baker said.

I talked to the spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Education earlier Wednesday afternoon. Who told WHAS11 that the case is still an ongoing investigation and that no action has been taken in the case.