Fargo public schools under investigation

Published: Oct. 27, 2019 at 10:05 PM CDT
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Frustrations linger for many Fargo parents who say they've been left in the dark.

A federal agency is looking into the schools' use of seclusion and restraints after receiving multiple complaints.

Sunday, parents and advocates had the chance to share their stories with investigators.

"All of us parents are concerned, frustrated and scared," parent advocate Samantha Stewart said. "I think the fact that we have been working on this for quite some time with the schools, and we are still feel like we are in the same place is really frustrating."

Staff that can meet the needs of special education students, understanding what a restraint is and transparency with families.

These are some of the changes parents like Stewart want to see in Fargo schools.

"We want to make sure that children with disabilities in all schools, and certainly in Fargo public schools, have free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment," disability advocate Brenda Ruehl said.

Katy Barnum has two kids in the district. Her son is on the autism spectrum and receives special education.

She came to Sunday's meeting in hopes that her voice would be heard.

"I think you lose trust when you send your child to school and he's coming home with bruises and marks on his body, and no one is telling you about them," Barnum said.

Even with the lingering frustrations, parents said the investigation is a step in the right direction.

"It was nice to be able to speak our truth, tell our stories and voice our concerns in a way that felt like maybe they would do something with that information," Stewart said.

Investigators will be in town for the next three days. They'll be talking with parents, advocates and school staff to determine the fate of Fargo public schools.