Mom finds daughter with special needs in cage during surprise school visit

Nov 10, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Image: Kunihito Terawa/Getty

Showing up unannounced at your child's classroom should never be cause for concern. One California mom experienced every parent's worst nightmare in an impromptu visit to her daughter's elementary school. There, she found her 7-year-old daughter with developmental disabilities wearing a soiled diaper and kept in a makeshift cage in the classroom.

Ledelldra Brooks found her 7-year-old daughter in these horrific conditions during an unplanned visit to her daughter's first grade classroom at Viking Elementary School in Fresno, California. Brooks described the scene in which her daughter was wearing a dirty diaper and kept inside a pen made from a crib gate and toddler gate attached to bookshelves.

As any parent would do, Brooks called the police immediately. Authorities took apart the cage and sent the case directly to the district attorney with possible charges of misdemeanor child abuse. Brooks has since hired a lawyer to begin filing a lawsuit against the school district.

Teresa MonPere, the Viking Elementary School teacher who allegedly created this barbaric setup, was immediately put on administrative leave by the school. MonPere has confirmed that she currently teaches at Addicott Elementary School.

Brooks' daughter was one of seven special ed students within the class, according to a teacher's aide. The young girl suffers from a seizure disorder and developmental disabilities. Teachers' aides claim that the cage was used to control special education students who posed a risk to themselves and others, not for punishment. Brooks' daughter was put in the cage after scratching one of the aides and disrupting class.

It should be a no-brainer that caging a child, especially a child with special needs, is cruel and unusual. Joseph Bowling, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley board on behalf of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, agrees that isolating children with disabilities is never the most effective form of behavioral management.

He explains, "This is not something I would put a child into and claim this is for their own protection. It's a cage, this is what you would put a wild animal in. I can't believe that somebody, an administrator walking in that room and seeing it, would allow that."

Bowling makes an excellent point. If these allegations are true, it is horrifying that an elementary school girl with special needs was caged to control her behavior. The teacher who created this makeshift cage is firstly to blame, along with any and every staff member who saw the caged girl. I find it hard to believe that this animalistic cage was kept a secret in the school. The fact that other teachers saw and turned a blind eye is even more disgusting.

You can see a picture of the horrific cage at The Fresno Bee.

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