Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mom Says School Sent Her Son with Autism To Study Alone in Bathroom: 'How Is This OK?'


A mother is demanding action after she came to her son’s school to find that his desk had been placed in one of the campus bathrooms.

On Sept. 16, Danielle Goodwin arrived at Whatcom middle school in Bellingham, Washington, to visit her son Lucas in his classroom.

Lucas, 11, has autism and an autoimmune disorder, according to Goodwin, and gets easily overwhelmed by loud noises so she wanted to try to arrange a quieter learning space for him.

But Goodwin was shocked when she discovered the school’s solution to the problem.

“I was stunned,” Goodwin told KOMO. “I was so shocked I just took the picture because I didn’t believe what I was seeing.”

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She found her son’s desk placed in the bathroom, along with a sleeping mat and pillow on the floor.

“My son has special needs and does best in a very quiet place,” Goodwin wrote on Facebook. “This was his teacher’s solution…yes, that is my son in a bathroom.”

After confronting Lucas’ teacher, Goodwin says it was confirmed to her that the school had decided to move her son’s desk into the restroom to provide a less chaotic learning environment.

“The teacher informed us that he would be studying in the bathroom,” she told KCPQ. “It’s not an appropriate place for anyone, but especially for Lucas with his PANDAS condition (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), he can’t be around germs. That’s something that can really affect his body.”

“It smelled and just the thought of my son working his school day away in a bathroom was disturbing to me,” Goodwin said.

Aside from the health risks, she said there were also social and emotional ramifications as a result of the incident.

“My son was humiliated, embarrassed, and disgusted. When we got home he was throwing up from the anxiety,” she said, adding that she decided not to take Lucas back to the school.

Before her discovery, Goodwin said they had had no issues with the district. But now, her son is scared to go back.

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“How is this best practice? How is this ok? We must do better,” Goodwin wrote on Facebook.

A spokesperson from Bellingham School District responded to Goodwin’s claims, telling KCPQ, “We are continuing to look into this, but at this time, it appears that the restroom was set up as a possible separate quiet learning space, but no student was placed in there. The desk has been removed, and staff at the school are aware that the space should not be used for that purpose in the future.”

The representative added, “While we aren’t able to share specific details about our students, we can tell you that keeping our students safe and engaged in learning are our top priorities.”

In response, Goodwin said, “Great that they removed the desk, but that doesn’t help my son’s self-esteem, his embarrassment.”

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ