Mom wants policies to help students with autism after injured son gets off bus

Posted at 6:51 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 08:49:27-04

Callahan McFarland was screaming as he came home from Walnut Creek Middle School on the school bus Tuesday.  As he came of the bus he was covering his face. He has special needs and rides a bus with a driver and an aid that transports three students.  

The school bus driver and aid on the bus for students with special needs, allegedly didn’t explain why he was upset.

“Nothing was said to my husband other than Cal took off his shoes today,” said Val McFarland, his mom.

As the bus left Cal’s parents saw he was hurt.

“The side of his face was scratched and swollen,” said his mom.

They called to find out what happened. They learned there was a fight on the bus.

 Val McFarland says doctors were concerned because he couldn’t speak about where he hurt. She called and asked to see the video recorded on the bus right away.
“I told them, he is non-verbal.  I know you haven’t had this situation before where a non-verbal person was attacked. We have been to urgent care twice. He can’t tell us what is wrong. We don’t know if he had a concussion, internal bleeding. I can’t go to bed tonight without knowing what is going on with Callahan,” said McFarland.

The school says because of student privacy laws the video couldn’t be released until other parents signed off.  Val says the policy needs to be clear - in a medical emergency it is allowed.

“When it comes to the health of a child, what if Cal didn’t wake up this morning? And I don’t think i am being exaggerating or crazy about this,” said McFarland

The school says it is investigating what happened with Dean Transportation. Val says she has been told the aid on the bus is being disciplined.  The school district says if it is a matter of life and death such video can be released, but the school needs reason to believe so, such as a call from a doctor treating the student.

The day after this happened, the district did get permission from involved parents and released the video to McFarland.  She wants school districts to be prepared with policies in place for non-verbal students should this happen to someone else in the future.