The worst part about raising kids is the moment when you send them to school to be under the care of strangers. Raising kids comes with a lot of responsibilities and endless worries, especially when it comes to children with special needs, in which case the challenges multiple. Sending your child to kindergarten and school to be under the care of strangers is one of the hardest struggles for parents to children with special needs, since you want to ensure you child is in the most capable hands.What happens then when you learn that this isn’t the case and that your child is being treated wrongfully? Any parent would act as Milissa Davis did if his child was being treated with injustice under the care of his teachers. When Milissa noticed suspicious changes in her son’s behaviour, she hid a recording device in his backpack, and what she found out was beyond her worst expectations.
Wanting the best for their child
Millisa Davis lived happily with husband and son Camden, 12 years old at the time, in Louisiana. Camden was always a happy, good-natured kid.
He was diagnosed with autism not too long before the incident occurred, and so finding the perfect school for him meant a lot more now to than it ever did.
It’s all about the perfect fit
Not every school is right for every kid, and so finding the perfect school for your child is not an easy task as it might seem, and it becomes that much harder when it comes to children with special needs.
At Camden’s age, the school can affect the child’s development greatly, and so finding the right school isn’t something to be taken lightly.
Giving them hope
That’s when the Davis family finally found Hope Academy, and it seemed as if the search was over. It appeared to have been the perfect fit for Camden and precisely what they’ve been looking for.
According to the name, “Hope Academy,” the school promised it provides a warm, supportive environment for kids with special needs to grow according to their own pace.
Cautious but hopeful
It sounded promising enough, and so Camden’s parents decided to enroll their son to the school. This was a private school specializing with kids on the autistic spectrum, and though it wasn’t easy to fund, it seemed like the perfect place for Camden to learn and grow.
Milissa and her husband weren’t willing to compromise on their son’s education and decided to do whatever it takes to enroll their son to this school, which seemed like the answer to all their problems.
A new beginning
Camden was enrolled in Hope Academy and his parents were hoping he would get the best education in a compassionate environment fitted for his needs.
It wasn’t long, though, until they started to notice some alarming changes in their son’s behavior.
A drastic change
Milissa felt as if something wasn’t adding up – since Camden started attending Hope Academy, she detected a drastic change in his behavior.
While he used to be a very positive, happy kid, smiling and laughing constantly, Milissa noticed that the smiles were gone and replaced with frowns and overall aggressive behavior.
Aggressive and stressed
Camden’s behavior towards his parents changed so much that Milissa could hardly recognize her son anymore. According to her, he was acting aggressively and impatiently, which was completely out of character for her usually cheerful boy.
It wasn’t just his aggressive behavior, but something else changed in Camden – he started to wet his bed again, after losing this habit at the age of three. This was a bad sign.
Something isn’t right
That’s when Milissa started to suspect there was something at school causing her son’s regression. She was worried out of her mind and knew she had to get answers.
Since the changes in his behavior started after he enrolled in Hope Academy, and his behavior was usually worst after coming home from school, Milissa decided that was the best place to start investigating.
Naturally, she figured Camden was being bullied by other children. After all, kids at this age can be insensitive to their peers, especially when they seem different in any way.
Milissa worried that her son’s change in behavior was a result of social exclusion. Little did she know that the real answer was a lot more troubling.
Looking for answers
The worried mother decided the best thing to do was book a meeting with the school’s principal, Linda Stone. If Camden was suffering from social exclusion, the principal was ought to know about it.
But the meeting didn’t go as well as Milissa had hoped, as the principal had no answers for her. She assured her that Camden was doing fine and dismissed the subject.
She wasn’t convinced
Milissa knew something must be wrong, though. She knew her son better than anyone else, and she knew there has to be a reason for this sudden change of behavior.
That wasn’t all – his behavior was only getting worse after her talk with the principal. He seemed constantly stressed, though there was nothing going on at home that could explain it.
Taking matters into her hands
It was up to Milissa to help her son. If the principal wasn’t interested in helping her, Milissa would act on her own to get the answers.
She decided to devise a plan to help her uncover what was really going on in her son’s school.
The grand plan
Her plan was to hide a recording device in her son’s backpack the next day when he goes to school. Of course, she had to hide it somewhere he wouldn’t find it since she didn’t want him to know anything was going on.
It seemed like the perfect plan, as it allowed her to listen to the tape and hear everything that’s going on first hand.
Uncovering the truth
Milissa figured out she was helping the school as well – after all, they’d want to know if there’s anything bothering one of the children.
Hiding the recorder wasn’t as complicated as she had expected, and her plan was soon going into motion. Milissa was on edge until her son came home from school that day.
About to lose hope
The day flew by, and when Camden came home from school Milissa was anxious to listen to the tape and learn what might be the cause for her son’s misery.
However, Milissa felt helpless when she put on the tape and realized most of the recordings were completely muffled. She couldn’t make out anything but muffled sounds.
The shocking truth
When she was about to give up on the tapes, suddenly Milissa recognized a clear voice. She could hear complete sentences, and to her surprise, it wasn’t anything like what she’d expected.
While Milissa assumed her son was being mistreated by other kids, it turned out, to her great surprise, that the teachers were the ones who wronged him.
Impossible to believe
She couldn’t be mistaken – it was clearly a teacher’s voice emerging from the recording. Turns out the recorder was working while Camden was taking an exam, and the teacher’s comments were heard in the background.
Milissa distinctly heard the teacher’s voice mockingly asking, “what’s hard about it?” when Camden needed help during his exam. The kid’s reply was a frustrated noise, followed by another mocking reply from his teacher.
The teacher continued harassing Camden throughout the exam, asking him why there’s nothing written down on his paper. She said this was the reason he was banned from sitting with other students, followed by “tell your momma that.”
Camden’s mother couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How can a teacher act with such insensitivity towards her 12-year-old student?
Disappointed and angry
Towards the end of the tape, Milissa realized it somehow recorded a private conversation between a teacher and her assistant. They were heard discussing Camden’s performance in school, saying, “he wouldn’t make it for a minute.”
When she thought it couldn’t get any worse, Milissa learned that the place meant to make her son feel safe and included was the reason for his recent misery.
Fighting for a greater cause
When her son’s behavior changed so drastically, Milissa figured he was being bullied, but she never imagined it was being done by his teachers.
Finding out your child is being treated in such a manner by the people who are meant to protect and care for him is perhaps the hardest thing for a parent to learn.
This wasn’t about getting revenge for Milissa, but justice for her son. If these teachers could act this way towards her kid, who’s to say how many other mistreated children were under their care?
This fight wasn’t only for Milissa and Camden, but for the cause of all children out there being abused (emotionally or physically) by the people who are supposed to perform as their care-givers.
Milissa contacted lawyer Charlotte McGehee, who was more than willing to help this important cause. She found this a sure case, as the abuse that miserable Camden had to endure was all on tape.
Although she was reluctant about her plan at the beginning, that’s when Millisa knew she did the right thing by sending her son to school with a recording device, because it provided her with the proof she needed.
What upset McGehee most about this case was Camden’s special situation. All kids deserve to be treated sensitively and respectfully, but as a kid on the autistic spectrum, she felt that Camden should have been treated with extra patience and compassion.
And that’s exactly the opposite of the treatment he received from his teachers at Hope Academy.
Lawyer Charlotte McGehee advised Milissa to release the recording to the press, to get as many people as possible exposed to the outrageous story.
She followed her advice and contacted a local news station to release the tapes. Naturally, the story caused a great commotion in the press.
Refusing the interview
A local news station wanted to interview the principal of Hope Academy, but naturally, she was reluctant to give an interview.
Instead, she announced that the school was holding a board meeting to discuss this unfortunate and irregular case and that they were doing everything in their power in order to prevent it from happening again.
The principal of Hope Academy and the educational team declared that the school is appalled by the incident and is taking measures to ensure it never happens again. According to the principal, the school has been looking after children with special needs for over 11 years now.
The abusing teachers were let off their jobs, and the school decided to take on a new approach when hiring the new staff – making the hiring process more selective.
A new beginning yet again
The story had the best possible outcome, with the abusing teachers fired and brought to justice, but Milissa was scarred by this event.
Although the school assured her they would do everything in their power to make this a safe institution for her son, Milissa lost her trust in them. She was now back to the difficult task of looking for a new school for Camden, yet again. Hopefully, this time it would last.