His mother was at a loss as to what to do as Camden Davis’ behavior started to deteriorate. She made an effort to speak with his school to find out whether they were aware of potential causes, but their concerns were dismissed.
At that point, she made the decision to act independently, and the results of her investigation were alarming.
Milissa Davis is a married mother of two boys who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She works with mini horses as therapy animals, and she loves her job. But what keeps her the most occupied is her 12-year-old son Camden, who has special needs.
She is fiercely protective of him, so when he started showing signs of distress, she knew she had to act.
After Camden was accepted to Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy, Milissa felt extremely lucky. It seemed like the perfect school for Camden.
After a bad run with several schools and uncompassionate teachers and classmates, Milissa thought that their troubles would finally be over. She could have never suspected the appalling outcome that her decision would have.
Hope Academy prides itself on catering to kids with special needs and making sure that they’re allowed to learn at their own pace, all the while making them feel safe and understood.
“Hope Academy’s mission is to meet the unique needs of students who typically have social and academic difficulties in conventional school settings by teaching these students how to manage and adapt their own unique systems to enjoy healthy, happy lives,” is what the school’s statement says.
When she read the admission letter, Milissa couldn’t help but shed a tear of joy. She thanked God; finally, Camden would be able to learn in an environment where he would feel right at home.
She hoped the school could give him the supportive environment he needed to thrive academically. But soon, she would find out it was the complete opposite.
Everything Seemed Fine
In the beginning, everything seemed good enough. Camden was excited about the change of scenery. By the end of his last year at his previous school, it wasn’t hard to tell that Camden was burnt out.
The teachers were terrible, and the classmates weren’t any better. Camden had a hard time making friends, and he spent most of his time in school all by himself.
It Was His Idea
As a matter of fact, the change of schools was Camden’s idea. That was something Milissa would never forget; the resolution and courage of that boy.
One day after school, as the trimester came to an end, he just walked up to her and said: “Mom, I think I want to change schools. I don’t like this one.”
Milissa would always admire her son’s courage when he said that. She could tell from a mile away that Camden wasn’t happy in that school.
She and her husband had talked about it, and they were planning on asking him if he wanted to change schools after the kid’s classes were over. But she didn’t expect Camden to bring up the topic all by himself.
The Big Decision
So, in a matter of days, the decision was made; after researching several special needs schools in the area, the family sent a bunch of applications.
It didn’t take long before they received the admission letter. When it happened, the whole family was ecstatic. Some weeks later, as the course started, it really seemed like they had finally found the place for Camden. However, things would soon take a sad turn.
First Few Months
For the first few months, everything seemed to be going right. Camden was getting good grades, his teachers seemed to be nice people every time Camden’s parents had seen them in a meeting, and there was no reason to expect what would happen next.
But right after the first trimester, things changed. It was almost unnoticeable at first, but Milissa’s intuition told her that something was very wrong.
At first, it started subtly; Camden seemed a bit moodier right after the Christmas break. For a minute, Milissa thought that maybe the kid was just annoyed about the end of the vacation.
However, things didn’t get any better as days passed. It came to a point where Milissa couldn’t ignore it anymore. But what exactly was going on?
Concerned By Sudden Changes
A few months into the school year, Milissa began noticing stark changes in Camden’s behavior. He became more aggressive, his anxiety increased, and he even started wetting the bed — something he hadn’t done since he was 3 years old.
Now, there was no doubt: something was going very wrong. Would it have something to do with Camden’s new school?
Every time Milissa or her husband asked Camden what was wrong, they didn’t get a clear answer from the kid. As a matter of fact, they didn’t get an answer at all. Camden would just shut down.
This was something he usually did when he was feeling distressed or overwhelmed. His parents knew something was off, and they were resolved to get to the bottom of the issue.
Going To The School For Answers
Thinking Camden’s new school environment might have something to do with his behavioral change, Milissa went to Hope Academy to talk about her son’s situation.
She tried to speak to the principal and school officials about where Camden was seated in the classroom, among other things. But the school wasn’t cooperative at all. So Milissa decided to take matters into her own hands.
Milissa bought a tape recorder and put it in Camden’s backpack one day before school. She hoped the device would record anything happening at the school that was out of the ordinary.
She knew it was an extreme measure, but given that her concerns had fallen on deaf ears at the school, she felt she had no choice. When Camden came back from school, Milissa couldn’t wait to hear what was on the tape.
Not Knowing What To Expect
Milissa took the recorder from Camden’s backpack and rewound it. She knew she’d have to listen to hours of audio, with the possibility that there was nothing of interest in the tape.
And, sure enough, the beginning of the recording showed the normal goings-on of a school day. But then she came upon some conversations that chilled her to the core.
Mocked By His Own Teacher
On the tape, Camden’s teacher can be heard scolding him for not writing something he was assigned. This would be normal at a regular school, but special needs children don’t respond well to admonishment.
On top of that, the teacher’s tone was condescending, even mocking Camden’s attempts at verbalizing. In shock, Milissa continued to listen — and the worst was yet to come.
At one point, a conversation can be heard between the teacher and her teaching assistant. Even though no children appeared to be present, they were clearly in the classroom and close to Camden’s backpack.
They were talking derogatorily about Camden, even using swear words. When she first heard it, Milissa couldn’t believe what they were saying. She felt sick to her stomach.
Disturbed By What She Heard
“I just wanted to cry, scream and do everything I could because it was so bad,” Milissa said. “To think that I had sent my son there every day, and what had happened before that, I don’t know about.”
Armed with that damning evidence, Milissa once again went to school officials. And, once again, her concerns were dismissed. But she was determined not to be ignored.
Milissa immediately pulled Camden out of Hope Academy. But she didn’t want to leave the issue there, thinking of all the other special needs children being exposed to such unprofessional teachers.
But she had a plan. She did what she knew would get the school’s attention: she posted the audio on her Facebook page. Her plan worked.
The School Takes Action
The post went viral, forcing the school to take action. Principal Linda Stone released a statement, saying one of the teachers had been fired and the other would be let go once the semester ended.
The parent never brought the recording to the attention of Hope Academy before posting it on social media. The parent has also refused to meet with Hope Academy to discuss the actions we have taken to address the issue,” the statement said.
“The persons involved in the communications are either no longer with the school or will no longer be with the school after this semester,” principal Linda Stone stated.
“Over these many years, Hope Academy has built a strong reputation for competently serving the educational needs of the special needs community. These recordings are not an indication of who we are.” But was that true?
“We ask that the community not let the actions of two persons reflect on the reputation of and the mission of the school-a mission we have tried so hard to build.”
“We again extend an invitation to meet with the parent involved to discuss this incident further,” the statement concluded. But by then, Milissa had other ideas in mind. She was going to get her revenge.
Taking The Legal Route
Milissa hired the services of attorney Charlotte McGehee and planned to file a complaint with the Department of Education.
“No child should have to have this happen to them,” she told the media when asked about the case. “I brought this to light because I wanted my son to be the last kid that this happened to at this school.”
The pressure forced the school to fire the second teacher immediately, and everyone who had been following the story on the media and online celebrated it, showing Milissa and Camden love over social media.
Meanwhile, people online shared their opinions on the incident; and this revealed a disturbing trend.
“Unfortunately, this happens more often than you think,” one of the people who commented on the story said. “My son, who suffers from ASD, came with bruises all over him.”
“They claimed they just had to restrain him. He became non-verbal except for sweating that year. After the year with that teacher was over, he became verbal again, and he told us stories about different teachers telling him not to believe in God.”
It Gets Worse
“Teachers doing nothing all day but talking between themselves and complaining about the kids, work, etc…” she continues. And that’s not even the worst part of it.
“Teachers making fun of and smacking another student that had balance problems and would grab onto things and people to steady himself….” There were more people commenting on Milissa and Camden’s story, and this is what they said:
“There is something seriously wrong with some people who pass all the security checks and still abuse children!” said one mother.
“This infuriates me to no end. Would those monsters want someone to do anything like that to their children? I think not. I hope these teachers get punished severely. Hope this boy is OK. God bless him.”
Support From The Web
Milissa was touched by the sentiments of support from all over the world and even opened a P.O. box so people could send letters and gifts to Camden.
But in the meantime, there was something else to do; finding a new school for the kid, making sure that this one would be the right one for him.
Getting Back To Normal
Milissa transferred Camden to a different school, making sure that the teachers were qualified and professional. Camden’s new teacher minored in psychology and has a degree in special education and Applied Behavior Analysis.
Even so, the effects of his former teachers’ bullying have not completely subsided. Hopefully, with time and lots of support, Camden can go back to being the sweet, loving kid he was before.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.