Allen ISD confirmed to Local Profile that it’s being investigated by the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The department will look into several claims made by a parent of an Allen ISD special needs student.
According to CBSDFW, the investigation first appeared in 2021 when a parent of an Allen ISD student felt her son's needs were not being met.
"Nicolas just turned five and he was born with a condition called TAR syndrome," the student’s mother, Christina Cabral, told CBSDFW. "For Nicolas, he's actually missing all of his arm bones and his knee joints as well."
Cabral explained that Nicolas needs support when walking because his condition makes it difficult for him to get around without assistance.
"When he does fall, his risk of brain hemorrhaging and internal bleeding is really high because with his low platelets, his blood doesn't clot," Cabral said.
When Nicolas enrolled in Allen ISD, Cabral claims she made the district aware of his needs. Upon entering the school, educators allegedly wanted to put Nicolas into a stroller with restraints, but Cabral explained that the restraints could cause him injury.
After Cabral felt she was not being listened to by educators or the district, she contacted Karen Mayer Cunningham, a special education advocate. Cunningham filed a complaint with the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights citing Nicolas' legal rights were being violated.
According to CBSDFW, the OCR investigation will look into the following allegations:
- The student was not allowed to enter Cheatham Elementary until August 29, 2022, three weeks after other students began classes.
- The district required the student to use a stroller and harness in order to enter the school and used the harness to improperly restrain them.
- The student was made to use a plastic toilet on the floor.
- The district failed to implement the student's education plan and did not effectively communicate with the student by using their electronic voice output device.
- The student was retaliated against with threats of being disenrolled.
- The school failed to maintain accessible entrances, classrooms, and a playground.
Allen ISD told Local Profile they intend to corporate throughout the investigation and expect a thorough investigation into the allegations from OCR.
“OCR has only just begun its investigation of the complaint and the district has not yet had an opportunity to provide a response; as such, it is important to note that OCR has made no determination with regard to its merit,” a district spokesperson told Local Profile. “Allen ISD strongly believes that the claims in this complaint are without merit, and all procedures were followed in accordance with the law.”
On January 6, Cunningham will host a press conference at the Allen ISD administration building at 2 p.m.