I-Team: Congresswoman Susie Lee takes I-Team story about school 'hot box' to Capitol Hill
LAS VEGAS - One of 8 News NOW's I-Team stories inspired a lawmaker to get involve and take action. The story shed light on questions about a school for students with special needs, and whether the staff was secluding some students in an outdoor area.
It was a concern for local mother Shantal Myers, but thanks to Congresswoman Susie Lee, D-NV, her story is being heard on Capitol Hill.
"I think the administration is turning a blind eye, yes. And I think a lot of parents aren't aware that it's even happening," Meyers said about the alleged seclusion of special needs students.
Myers' son Christian is autistic and non-verbal and had previously attended Variety School for special needs students in Las Vegas. Myers claims Christian was placed in this outdoor enclosure after he became frustrated with a classroom exercise on a day when it was 105 degrees
"My attorney calls it a hot box," Meyers said.
It was Meyers' story that caught the attention of Congresswoman Lee.
"My heart breaks for her," she said.
The congresswoman took action and brought the concerns to a national spotlight during a committee hearing on restraints and seclusions in school.
"In Las Vegas, we had an incredibly troubling incident," Lee said to the committee.
As the I-Team previously reported, the Clark County School District refers to the area where the "hot box" is as a patio area. A spokesman said the "Administration has since directed staff that the patio area is only to be used when a student initiates access."
Vanessa Murphy, I-Team Reporter: "Could we see legislation at the federal level to prevent something like you saw in our story with that enclosure?"
Congresswoman Susie Lee, D-NV: "First of all, Nevada is a state that does have regulations about it and so, but definitely; I mean that was a hearing that I think was the first step towards us drafting up potential legislation, Keep Our Schools Safe Act which will provide national standards around this incredibly important issue."
According to Lee, the goal is not only to keep students safe but also to make sure educators have the tools they need.
According to a district spokeswoman, the only additional training required for special needs staff at CCSD is a video.
Shantal Myers says she was contacted by a school staff member at Variety School after the I-Team's story aired, and she was told an investigation was opened.