Was Cleveland special-needs boy neglected by school? - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Was Cleveland special-needs boy neglected by school?

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Few forces are more ferocious than a mother's love, a devotion which only intensifies when a child has been dealt a disability.

"He's my baby.  They have other babies here who can't speak up when something is going on, who can't speak up when something is happened to them," said Angel Cangemi, mother of a 12-year-old son with Down syndrome.

What happened at Cleveland ISD's Northside Elementary to 12-year-old James Cangemi may seem like no big deal to some, but it has left the boy's mother with a mixture of grief and fury.

"There's no way I would leave anybody's baby that cannot take care of themself, sitting the way they left my baby.  He was treated like an animal or worse than an animal," Angel said.

Challenged with toileting issues, James recently had back-to-back accidents within a short period of time.  Angel said instead of giving the boy a shower, James' special-ed teacher sent him to the school nurse's office where his parents discovered their son more than an hour later, sitting alone in his own waste.

"He had waste from the inside of his underpants, all the way down to his socks on both legs," Angel said.

Disability advocates say all Texas schools that educate special-needs students are required to fully contend with kids challenged with toileting issues.

On the advice of her pediatrician, Angel reported Northside Elementary to child protective services.

"He had blisters.  His skin was peeling off and it's all because they let my baby sit like this," she said.

While Cleveland ISD has admitted no wrongdoing, spokeswoman Stacey Gatlin told FOX 26 the special-ed teacher has been removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Angel said she's speaking out because she wants a reckoning.

"I think she should be fired. I think she should lose her job," she said.

She said her son's state-mandated "Individual Education Program" requires the school to provide personal care services including, help with toileting.

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