Woman says Duncan Public Schools failed to accommodate her special needs son

DUNCAN, Okla. - A mother is hoping her concerns will bring a wave of change to Duncan Public Schools after she said her son went without adequate care.

Tiffany Hartfield recently moved to Duncan and said her 13-year-old son Cainaan was used to having an aide with him at his previous school. Cainaan lives severe epilepsy and intellectual disabilities.

But she says DPS needs new leadership over special education. She says DPS was slow to process his paperwork so he started the school year 6-weeks-late. Now, recovering from his 16th surgery, she said the school gave rise to her concerns about his care.

"He's still in diapers so he would have a bag full of urine soaked clothes that they'd send home with him," said Hartfield. "That's not adequate attention, that's neglect. That's abuse."

She said her son, who is in special education classes, would be separated from his peers.

"There's no reason for him to be secluded from the rest of the children but his desk was at the back," she explained.

She says she was met with resistance when she tried to hire her own nurse to be with the boy in school full-time. She says district officials questioned the legality of the outside caretaker. In early January, the nurse relayed an encounter that left Hartfield heartbroken.

Hartfield tells News 4 a teacher and two aides tried to get the boy out of his seat.

"They intimidated him," she explained. "The nurse let me know he dropped to the ground and covered his little head like he was trying to protect himself. So that's very concerning."

She withdrew him immediately, saying she doesn't trust the administration of the district.

She now has concerns about what went on when no one else was around.

"I know what they told me but I'll never know what went on behind closed doors with my baby and he'll never be able to tell me."

Hartfield brought her concerns to the school board, and she says she felt she was heard, but hopes it creates change and comes to the forefront of the minds of other parents.

News 4 reached out to Duncan Public Schools, the released the following statement:

Board policy allows parents, who have made a prior request, to address and disclose publicly any matters they want regarding their children at a school board meeting. However, this is not a two way street. The board or district administration cannot respond publicly. Parent consent is required before district employees can discuss specific matters related to a student due to federal and state confidentiality laws. Caring for students and their individual needs is of paramount importance to us. Duncan Public Schools strives every day to provide the best educational opportunities for students and respond to parent concerns in a compassionate and professional manner.

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