SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. — The mother of a 6-year-old boy who has mild autism is filing a lawsuit against the Sedro-Woolley School District for "failing to provide reasonable care."
Surveillance video from the van shows Chance Forbes struggling, crying and writhing while he's wearing a harness in the back seat.
His mother, Jaymee Weide, says he sometimes throws tantrums. She and the school district agreed to restrain him with the harness during the 1 1/2-hour trip to the Pacific Learning Center.
Chance began to show changes in his behavior that were regressive, Weide said. She requested the video from the van and says she was heartbroken by what she saw.
"She had tightened the harness way up so his little body was suspended," she explained. "I watched him struggle and cry on the way home and he was on a hook so to speak."
While it's not entirely clear from watching the videos, some clips appear to show the harness strapped on so tight, Chance needs to use his legs to sit on the seat. Other clips show the harness tangled and wrapped around his neck while he sleeps.
"What's going to happen in a crash?" Weide asked. "Will it hold up? This can't happen ever again."
In another clip, the harness is so loose Chance can easily turn around.
"The most heartbreaking thing about it is that I put my trust in people that could and should know better," Weide said in tears.
Raising a child with autism can be challenging to say the least, she said. "It's tons of phone calls from school saying you have to do better."
The Sedro-Woolley School District superintendent said he could not comment on any ongoing legal proceeding. Weide hopes the lawsuit brings change for others who are dealing with similar situations.
"The advocate in me won't let it go," she said, "There are so so many families in the district that need someone in their corner."
Chance is now taking private transportation to school, where he receives specialized education.
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