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Special-needs student’s desk moved to bathroom at middle school in Washington

Education

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BELLINGHAM, Washington (KOMO) —An 11-year-old Bellingham boy with special needs is furious that his desk was moved to a bathroom.

It wasn’t a prank.

His mother said that’s where his teacher thought would be the best quiet place for him to learn.

Danielle Goodwin said her son, Lucas, has autism and an auto immune disorder so he does best in a quiet place.

Goodwin said she talked it over with the teacher but when she brought her son to Whatcom Middle School on Monday, the solution was the bathroom.

“Sad, stressed, embarrassed,” said Lucas Goodwin. “I was like how is this happening? How am I in the bathroom? Why?”

The look of disgust is clear on Lucas Goodwin’s face in the photo his mom took when they came to school on Monday to find his new quiet learning place, in a functioning bathroom. The 11-year-old’s desk was over a toilet.

Danielle Goodwin said the teacher also gave him a camping mat to nap on the bathroom floor.

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

When they found the desk in the bathroom, Danielle Goodwin asked if there was another option, she said the teacher said no.

Courtesy KOMO

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

She immediately took Lucas home and he said he doesn’t want to go back to Whatcom Middle School.

“ ‘Oh yeah, we’ll just put him in the bathroom, perfect space,’ that’s not OK. You don’t do that,” said Lucas Goodwin.

A spokeswoman with the Bellingham Public School told KOMO News space has been an issue at the school and the desk was set up last weekend.

The spokeswoman sent KOMO News a statement saying, “I can tell you that we are aware of the situation, and that we have taken immediate steps to remove the desk depicted in the photo and ensure that this space is not used as a learning space.

“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,” she said.

Greg Baker, superintendent for the school district, addressed the situation Friday on the district’s website:

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