INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana family is demanding answers after their 8-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, came home from school with her feet duct taped.
Nate Searcy said his daughter, Shaylyn, returned from Westlake Elementary School on Monday with duct tape wrapped around both of her feet.
The bus assistant pointed it out to him when he went to get his daughter off the bus Monday afternoon.
"I'm like, 'Shaylyn, come on,' and she just kind of stood there, kind of limping a little bit," Nate Searcy said. "And I'm like, 'What's wrong?' And she's like, 'My feet hurt.' I look down and she had duct tape wrapped around both shoes, both ankles, and she couldn't even walk."
Nate said he turned to the bus driver for answers, and what she told him was even more disturbing.
"They had the tape on her feet so tight she couldn't even walk," he said. "They had to push her out with a wheelchair on to the bus."
Searcy said he and his wife, Elizabeth, went straight to the Wayne Township school to get answers.
"I had to carry her off the bus, carry her to the car," Nate Searcy said. "We went back to the school and told the principal what was going on. It took her 30 minutes to get the tape off."
Nate Searcy said the duct tape was so tight that it was cutting off Shaylyn's circulation, and the child had bruises left on her feet and ankles.
Even after the meeting with the principal, the Searcys say they still don't know who put the duct tape on their daughter.
"I just don't know what they'd need duct tape in a handicapped room for," Elizabeth Searcy said.
The Searcys admit their daughter can be a handful at times, throwing temper tantrums, but they said the school has always turned to them in the past.
"They've called me before because she won't get her shoes on or she won't stand up and walk to the bus and had fits," Elizabeth Searcy said. "And I've talked to her on the phone with the teacher, and she's got up and she's got on that bus. I don't know why today was any different."
"I'm home before they get home from school," she continued. "There's no reason why I couldn't go get her, if it was such an issue."
But it was different, and the parents said they're worried about the effect on their daughter.
"It's not only physical abuse to her, but it's mental abuse because now she's going to think every time she does something wrong, this is what they're going to do to her," Nate Searcy said.
The school's policy says restraint may be used in an emergency situation if there's physical risk of harm to the student or others.
Shaylyn's parents admit their daughter will sometimes refuse to keep her shoes on, but her dad says that's no excuse for duct taping them so tightly that the girl was in too much pain to walk.
"The assistant principal said the same thing, that that was not procedure and he did not agree with it," Nate Searcy said. "He took pictures himself."
Searcy said he expects to see some action for what happened to his daughter.
"The teacher that did this and whoever else was involved shouldn't be working in a school, let alone a special needs program," Nate Searcy said. "They need to do something. Some of these kids, like her, they can't really speak for themselves."
A school spokesperson told 9 On Your Side Scripps sister station RTV6 they won't make any decision about possible disciplinary actions until their investigation is complete.
Shaylyn's parents have a meeting with Child Protective Services investigators Wednesday.
They're working with the director of the special needs program at Westlake to arrange to transfer their daughter back to her previous school.
Wayne Township Schools issued the following statement to RTV6 in Indianapolis:
"We have had the opportunity to meet with the parents of the student involved in this reported incident and have begun our own investigation. We have notified the Indiana Department of Child Services of the incident, and if warranted, we will file a report with the agency. We have also involved our own law enforcement officers in the investigation. When the investigation into this incident is concluded, we will take appropriate action."
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