The family of a nonverbal eight-year-old girl is demanding answers after she was bitten by another student in her special needs classroom in Elizabeth.
Emily, who has Down syndrome, suffered six bites while attending class at School 22 Thursday.
School officials say another special needs student bit Emily, adding that the first day of school is often disorienting for children with special needs.
Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer issued a statement after video of the child was posted to social media. Hulgelmeyer's statement appears in full after the social media post.
“A third grade special needs student in a multiple disabilities classroom received minor injuries as a result of the actions of another special needs student,” Hugelmeyer said. “The two students, who are both non-communicative, were experiencing their first day of school in an unfamiliar classroom environment with unfamiliar staff members. Immediate and appropriate action was taken by school staff in accordance with established protocols following the incident.”
“Children with multiple disabilities, in addition to their own personal challenges in assimilating to their environment, present unique challenges to both parents and educators. Elizabeth Public Schools takes pride in employing staff members that undergo extensive professional development and training to address these challenges in a compassionate manner while providing a safe learning environment for students and staff. The incident has been referred by the school’s administrative staff to the district’s Department of Special Services, which is reassessing the individual needs and appropriate placement of the students involved based on the new information ascertained as the result of this incident.”
The family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to "seek action to get justice for her," organizers said.
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