The right to learn: David Swanson, 21, who has autism and diabetes, has been discriminated against by his Californian school, his mother has claimed
A mother is fighting for her autistic son’s right to an education after public school officials tried to palm her off with a settlement check to keep him away from classes, it has been revealed today.
Heather Houston wants her son David, 21, who is mute and has diabetes, to attend school in California until he is 22 which is his legal right.
Ms Houston said that authorities have failed to follow her son’s individual education plan and taken extreme measures to keep him out of school, even offering her $86,000 last week.
She received the large check after her son was turned away from the first day of the school year on August 15. David is currently being home-schooled.
This followed an offer of $50,000 in June to keep David out of school, which the mother rejected.
Ms Houston has been negotiating with Yuba City Unified School District and Sutter County Superintendent of Schools since last year after lodging civil rights complaints that her son was force-fed and left out of school activities.
Ms Houston told ABC : ‘The law says he’s allowed access to education. I don’t want their money. I never wanted their money.’
The family received an unsigned letter on August 27 which offered $86,000 for David to be kept away from public school.
He is currently entitled to go to school until his 22nd birthday next spring.
Eager to learn: David, 21, is mute but able to communicate with others using his iPad
If Ms Houston accepts the money, she must drop any legal complaints against the school, the letter states.
Ms Houston told WUSA 9: ‘You could offer me a million. I’m not going to take any money to sign away my son’s rights to an education.’
The autistic student’s education plan includes learning how to write down his name and phone number incase he gets lost, communicating with words on his iPad and about hygiene.
Annette Armstrong is the private nurse who goes to school with David to monitor his diabetes. She also understands when he is upset as he hums or puts his fingers in his ears.
She has cared for the autistic man for the past five years but claims that she was fired because she complained about a teacher force-feeding David.
Battle: Heather Houston says that she does not care about the money but wants her son David to be able to go to school (right)
Ms Armstrong said that one lunchtime, a teacher tried to feed David with a metal fork which he cannot use because his autism leaves him with extreme sensitivity to metal.
The nurse said that when David spit out the food, the teacher mixed it back into his bowl and made him eat it again. The incident left the student vomiting.
Nurse Armstrong added: ‘I always have tried to … advocate for David and just try to get through the day. Why do we have to make the kid so upset that he pukes on his shoes?’
Ms Houston claims that David was later barred from campus with his private nurse after she refused to sign a waiver to allow another nurse to become involved in his care.
The Department of Education states that public schools are required to provide free and appropriate education for children with disabilities.
Both school districts deny any wrongdoing. Ms Houston is now taking her son’s battle for an education to court.