HAMLET, N.C. — An 8-year-old boy with special needs was left covered in his own feces at a Hamlet school, according to his mother.
Lisa Bass said she was called to pick up her son who has autism from Fairview Heights Elementary School.
"He's full of life, full of energy, sweet and loving,” Bass said about her son, Tony Autry, who is nonverbal and depends on others for help at the school.
She added, "There should always be somebody there to support him, and that's part of his behavioral plan."
But last week, she said a teacher assistant called her and said Tony had an accident on the bus and needed to be taken home to get cleaned up.
She says they're working on potty training Tony and it has happened before.
“This is a special-needs classroom,” Bass said. “If you know much about autism, potty training is one of the hardest things to accomplish for them.”
She said someone has always helped clean him up before she got there, but not during last week’s incident.
“He was covered,” Bass said. "His hands, and it was all dried, so it had been there a little while. I could not believe that my baby is standing there with feces around his face, on his hands. He's just crying, and she's, like, just wanting to get him out of there. I told her, ‘I can't believe you brought him out there like this.’ She's, like, ‘Well, we don't have a shower facility,’ but I said, ‘You have a sink with running water.’ She said, ‘But I have other kids in here.’ From the way she made it seem, she was the only one in there with the class."
Bass said she had to clean her son in the parking lot before taking him home.
"They know that, ‘OK, he's 8 years old,’ but he's an 18-month-old in an 8-year old’s body. How would you handle an 18-month-old in this situation? It breaks my heart. Sorry, that's my baby.”
She said several staff members have been wonderful with Tony but over the years, but it's been a struggle to advocate for her child and hopes the recent situation sheds some light on that issue.
“It's not just my child. It's other kids,” Bass said. “They need to worry more about these babies who can't speak up for themselves."
Bass said the school district’s superintendent called her to apologize for the incident and said they will handle the situation.
The Richmond County school district said in a statement: “We are unable to comment on this confidential personnel matter that is currently under investigation. Please know that Richmond County Schools takes all parental concerns seriously. The teacher assistant has resigned from her position with Richmond County Schools."