Questions raised as family prepares to lay student to rest
Jeremy Jennings, Jr., the 6-year-old Baltimore city school student who died after falling from the back of a city school bus last week will likely be laid to rest on Friday, his mother said Monday.
Meanwhile the city school system is facing questions of policy and procedures for meeting the needs of special education students, particularly those they send out of the city because they suffer from such severe emotional and behavioral problems.
The school system has been mum about how they're grappling with these issues in the wake of Jeremy's death, but released the following statement Sunday after they received word that he had died:
"City Schools is profoundly saddened by the death of one of our students who was injured
during an accident last week while returning home from a non-public school in Baltimore
County. We express our deepest sympathy to the student’s family, loved ones and school
community. We will work with Baltimore County authorities as they fully investigate the
circumstances surrounding this tragic accident, and respond as necessary after we know
all the facts concerning the accident."
Jeremy's mother, Lisa Avery--who is very well versed in special education law and rights--is anticipating the school system's response, demanding the answers to three poignant questions: Why wasn't Jeremy in his harness, as his IEP mandated? Why didn't the bus driver stop the bus when her son and another student were fighting? Why wasn't one of the two adult aides on the bus able to stop Jeremy from opening the door?
Concerned parents of special-needs students--including some whose children attended school with Jeremy--are also awaiting the same answers.
Several parents contacted The Sun saying that the environment of school buses that transport their children to and from the city fits the script of the disarray that is described in the account of the moments leading up to Jeremy's fall. They say it's mostly because aides are often ill-equipped to handle the needs of their students.
But, we've also been contacted by special education professionals who say that Jeremy's death highlights the challenges of controlling one, let alone multiple students with severe behavior problems. They raised questions about whether the suspension of the bus driver and the two aides was reasonable, given that they were in a compromising situation having to be responsible for five special-needs children, including one who was intent on escaping.
We continue to investigate all angles of this story, but for now would like to hear from our readers.