When a California father went to pick up his autistic son from school, he was informed that the 11-year-old boy had wandered off the campus. However, when he spotted his confused and scared child handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, he decided to take legal action.
For Trevor Hibbert, being the father of a special needs child is a full-time responsibility. So, when he enrolled his autistic son at Endeavor Middle School in Lancaster, he was assured that employees had a personalized plan to assist and protect his child around the clock.
The school’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) included having a specially trained administrator working with 11-year-old Abraham at all times. However, Hibbert says that school officials would often replace the professional with non-trained faculty members, leaving Abraham vulnerable to miscommunication, meltdowns, and even threats of danger.
After several examples of what he calls “gross failure,” Hibbert documented the school’s most recent incident, which included a video of his confused and terrified son in the back of a police cruiser. However, the indignant father has no reservations about the officers’ actions. Instead, his fury is aimed solely at the school district.
In an interview with CBS Los Angeles, Hibbert explained that Abraham had an emotional meltdown during class and kicked a faculty member before fleeing. The boy was then able to walk nearly a mile from campus before the LA County Sheriff’s Department caught up with him.
“It’s is [sic] what happens to an 11 year old, severely autistic child when he has a meltdown and is able to walk off the Lancaster School District, Endeavour Middle School ‘secure’ campus almost a mile away, for a THIRD TIME in three weeks due to their gross failure to adhere to his IEP by the Administration and District. Thank God for our Sheriff’s department was there to clean up your mess, but the damage is done,” Hibbert wrote on Facebook.
Hibbert called out Principal Sonia Arnold-Dehay by name, accusing her and the district of failing to follow protocol and violating the law. In an earlier post, he accused the district of “gross negligence,” “failure to notify” him of a death threat made to his son, “violation of the 1st and 4th Amendments,” and “pathetic threats” in response to him considering pulling his son out of school.
After a lengthy rant, Hibbert then put the icing on the cake. According to his social media post, he has unveiled plans to run for a spot on the school board in order to make sure that district policies are effective and enforced.
“Therefore… I am publicly announcing my candidacy for Lancaster School District Board in the next available election,” Hibbert wrote. “I WILL be running for LSD School Board in the next available election. I WILL win, and when I do… I WILL clean house.”
Although many would assume that Hibbert would direct his outrage at the local police department over the mere sight of his autistic son in handcuffs, he expressed his deepest gratitude for their efforts. Hibbert thanked the responding officers for doing their best to ensure that his child was safe after the school’s ineptitude.
“Thank God for you Annette Lopez and the other officers who responded to ensure the safety of my son. I truly don’t know what I would’ve done if you had not been there. How is it that the administration of an LSD Middle School with dozens of special needs students, is less educated than our law enforcement in dealing with children who have autism? I’m so grateful to have you as a friend and that our Sheriffs Dept. care enough to train its officers in dealing with those who have special needs,” Hibbert wrote.
Of course, the district was forced to issue a response to the controversy, which has garnered national attention. However, Lancaster School District Superintendent Michelle Bowers’ statement fell short of Hibbert’s expectations, according to FOX News.
“We’re doing everything we need to do to support the family and support this child to be successful,” said Bowers. “This is his first year of middle school and while we’re completely committed to his safety and his education, we’re also very mindful of the safety of our staff, so we’re trying to balance all of that out.”
Hibbert slammed Bowers’ response, pointing out the school’s failure to provide his special needs son with a safe and secure learning environment. He then ended the interview by vowing to take the necessary legal steps to ensure that there isn’t a fourth incident involving his son.
Hibbert plans to go the legal route in an effort to hold the school district responsible for several incidents involving his son. Still, he remains thankful that the police officers were there to provide the care and support that school officials failed to deliver.