Student with mental handicap left behind on a field trip - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

5 employees fired after leaving a student behind on a field trip

Reported by Casey Roman - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email
Updated by Nikki Brochetti - email

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Five Brunswick County school employees have been fired. They are being held responsible for leaving behind a mentally disabled student while on a school trip.

Pamela Speidell's 16-year-old son, Tad, has a severe mental handicap and needs close supervision, but when he went on a class trip to Greenfield Lake in Wilmington, the school bus left without him.

"This system has failed my son," said Speidell.

She said she is always concerned about her son's well being, but never thought something like this could happen.

"The people who are supposed to be taking care of my son left him," Speidell.

A mother at the park saw the bus pull away without Tad around 2:00 Thursday afternoon.  Since he can barely speak, she called the Wilmington Police Department, who later returned him to the school.

Speidell said school officials didn't notify her until after 6:00 Thursday evening to let her know where her son was. 

"I don't even know how to explain to you how I felt," said Speidell.  "Paralyzed, scared, crying, shaking angry, just full of fear."

She said the emotions she felt Thursday brought back the nightmare of how Tad became handicapped.

"At 18 months old he drowned due to the negligence of a babysitter," said Speidell.  "She left him outside with a ten foot pool and he went in."

Meanwhile, one of the school employees who was fired, former theraputic assistant Morris Cook Jr, says he is very disappointed how the school system has handled the incident.  He believes by releasing so many teachers at once, it is bad for the other special needs students.

"These children do not handle change very well," said Cook. "Now, all of a sudden, everybody that worked with them all year long is gone or has worked with them for years are all of a sudden gone. It's going to cause a real disruption."

He also says the teachers in charge of Tad took full responsibility for leaving him and firing 5 employees does more harm than good.

Cook and some of the other employees involved say they are seeking legal advice at this time.

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