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Mother: My special needs daughter was forced to wash lunchroom tables

Posted at 5:52 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 18:01:18-04

GREENVILLE, Mich. — When Laura Jean Scanlon's daughter Kate came home from school Monday, she was upset. Kate is 14 years old, and a student at Greenville Middle School.

“When Kate got off the bus, she had tears in her eyes. I said, 'Kate, what’s wrong?' Her chin started to quiver. And she said, 'I had to clean tables,'” Laura Jean Scanlon said.

Kate has cerebral palsy and had her first seizure at just 9 months old.

"I just think it's the way it's always been," Scanlon said.

Kate and her other special education classmates were all told they had to wash the tables in the lunchroom.

The practice started decades ago, used to be a way for special education students to raise money for classroom activities, according to the Montcalm Area ISD. At some point, the students stopped getting paid but continued washing tables. Scanlon's biggest issue is only the special education students were asked to clean up.

“It’s one thing to respect your school. Clean up your own area,” Scanlon said.

After the ISD found out, they stopped the practice immediately. They issued FOX 17 the following statement:

“The moment we were notified that a parent posted a concern about something taking place in one of our schools, we contacted the parent as part of our investigation and we immediately put an end to the practice in question. We are thankful the parent brought forward their concern, and that we were able to address the issue and have a positive outcome."

But it took a while for Laura Jean to get this response. Originally, she texted her daughter's teacher. Nothing changed. Scanlon says she loves her daughter's teachers but the policy was above their head.

“It’s not that she doesn’t like school. She loves her friends. She loves her teachers. It was specifically this,” Scanlon said.

Laura Jean took to Facebook, believing there is power in numbers.

"I was like, 'Did I do the right thing?'" Scanlon said.

Laura Jean found out she wasn't alone. She says since her post, she has gotten dozens, if not hundreds of messages, saying the same thing happened to other special education students across the state.

While this will no longer happen in Montcalm County, it's not enough for Laura Jean. She wants policies like this one to change not just in Michigan but across the country.

"She's a brave girl," Scanlon said.

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