Mother says multiple reports from community members of ‘verbally cruel behaviour’ from his aide





A Kitimat mother has pulled her 14-year old autistic son out of Mount Elizabeth Secondary school because of what she calls ‘verbally cruel behaviour’ from his aide.

 “I’ve been getting a lot of negative feedback about the people that are working with him, and the environment at the school, and lots of different things that affect an autistic child,” said Leeann Ferguson.

The issue began when her son Hunter’s regular aide left for maternity leave. He was placed with a temporary one who his mother believes was mistreating him after she heard of multiple incidents from community members.

“Grocery checkers, who see my son doing his life skills in the community, and they’ve informed me that the aide that is with him is not acting appropriately,” said Ferguson.  “[The aide] is quite abrupt, and verbally cruel to him for no apparent reason.”

Ferguson also says her daughter- who also attends Mount Elizabeth- has reported incidents at the school where she witnessed Hunter left crying in a room alone while his aide held the door shut.

The school has hired a new aide for Hunter, who’s being trained right now.  Ferguson says she is nervous to send him back.

“They hired somebody,” said Ferguson. “But she’s a secretary from one of the local Dr’s office. And she has no training, she’s unqualified.”

And while Ferguson says she has discussed her concerns with the school principal, the district manager, and the superintendent, Coast Mountains school board chair Art Erasmus says that there’s no reason to believe Hunter has been previously mistreated.

“I’m putting that down as rumours. And I don’t want to deal in rumours when we have employees, agreements, and collective agreements as to how we have to help people,” said Erasmus.

He also said that any formal complaints to the school are investigated.

Erasmus says that the staff at Mount Elizabeth want Hunter to return to his program and added that the next option for Ferguson is to bring the issue up at the school board.

But Ferguson isn’t backing down. She wants Hunter to be placed with an aide at the school who’s worked with him previously.

Erasmus says that even if the other aide is a good fit, the collective agreement may not allow for such a switch.

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