Lake Orion mom says school locked special needs son in padded room for 3 hours

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A Lake Orion mom is furious, saying a teacher locked her son with autism in a padded room.

She says the boy was left there for hours and not even allowed to use the restroom.

"Criminals get treated better than that," said Bridget, the boy's mother. "They can go to the bathroom."

Fighting back tears, Bridget, whose 8-year-old son with autism attends Paint Creek Elementary in Lake Orion, compares the padded room to a jail cell.

"This padded room, that was supposed to be a safe place, was used as punishment," she said.

Bridget, who does not want to reveal her last name, says she received a message from her son Nathan's teacher Sept. 19th that Nathan had been acting up. So, he was put into a padded 8-by-8 room or what is also called "the cooler."

"The purpose of the padded room is for students with special needs when they are feeling overstimulated if they need to calm down," she said.

But Bridget says her son had been put in there for nearly three and a half hours.

"They called me to come pick him up because he defecated and urinated in there," she said. "And they suspended him."

Bridget says Nathan had been put into the room twice and is not convinced it was for emergency purposes.

"If that's why they were using this padded room - because it was an absolute emergency, I should've been contacted immediately," Bridget said. "Not three and a half hours after it happened."

And Bridget says she was told something even more terrifying.

"He tried choking himself towards the end," Bridget said. "They decided it was for attention."

Officials with Lake Orion Community Schools tell FOX 2 -- they take Bridget's allegations very seriously, but say the scenario involving Nathan cannot be substantiated by anyone in the school district.

Officials go on to say: "We have been in contact with the parents of this child over the past month to address his needs and are continuing to work with them very closely to provide the best learning opportunities for him."

But Bridget says she has text messages from Nathan's teacher and worries about other special needs children -- who aren't able to speak for themselves.

"How do their parents know how long they were in there," she said. "How do the parents going to know how they felt?"

While Bridget has taken Nathan out of the school and has been seeking legal action, she says he is back Tuesday as she prepares to find him what she calls, a safer place to learn.

"I don't want this to happen again to him," she said. "And I don't want this to happen to anybody else."