Family frustrated after first grader suspended

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CHOCTAW, Okla. - A local family with a "troublesome" little boy  says they are upset their first grader was suspended from school instead of helped, especially after the school said the boy may have autism.

Jennifer Tidwell's 6-year-old stepson, Damien, attends Nicoma Park Elementary in Choctaw.

He was suspended last week for wandering the hallway, cutting his clothes with scissors and disrupting class.

The suspension came several weeks after the school told Tidwell he might be autistic.

The school said they would test Damien to confirm autism, but roughly a month later, that test still hasn't been done.

George McCaffrey, an attorney with Disability Advocates of Oklahoma, said by law, a school has 45 school days to test a child for a disability, including autism, after they receive the parents' consent.

"How long does it take to have a child evaluated by a doctor?" said McCaffrey. "Doesn't take 45 days."

Until Nicoma Park Elementary tests her child, Tidwell would like to see him placed in a special education class.

"If he's so disruptive, they should find an alternative method where he can still do his work in a private setting, until they figure out the testing," she said.  "They're kind of dragging their feet on that."

Choctaw-Nicoma Park Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jim McCharen, would not talk on camera, but told NewsChannel 4 " say the school is dragging their feet to get rid of him, that is very hurtful and absolutely not true."

He said, "We have an autism program at that school, but you go through a process to be placed there and they're going through that.  The law is very clear on that."

For more information on school disability testing, visit McCaffrey's website.

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