ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A special needs student in New Jersey had a traumatic first day of school after allegedly being bitten and bruised by a classmate.
Video documents the more than five bite marks and bruises eight-year-old Emily Montero allegedly endured during her first day at William F. Halloran School No. 22 in Elizabeth.
“When I showed up to the office and I saw that on my sister’s face and I saw everything else on her body, I couldn’t help but start crying,” Britanie Montero, the victim’s sister said.
Her family says the special needs student was hurt by another child, while under the care of special needs staff at the school.
The school district says three adults were in charge of the eight special needs students in the class at the time of the incident.
“What were they doing that this happened?” Montero asked.
“Where are the adults?” the child’s mother Veronica Salluca said.
She says Emily is legally entitled to a personal paraprofessional. It’s unclear if that was the case when the incident happened and Emily is non-verbal.
“She can’t advocate for herself, she can’t tell me, ‘look what they did to me, look what happened,’” Montero told CBS2’s Valerie Castro.
The child’s family says other incidents have happened before and each time the district has transferred her to another school as the solution.
They believe the district as a whole isn’t capable of taking care of special needs students.
“As a school district they failed her by not providing her a means to be safe,” Emily’s sister said.
The Elizabeth Public School’s superintendent issued a statement calling the injuries minor and said “immediate and appropriate action was taken by school staff in accordance with established protocols following the incident.”
The incident was referred to the district’s Department of Special Services, which is “reassessing the individual needs and appropriate placement of the students involved.”
Emily’s family says she will not be returning to this school. They’re asking the school district to transfer her to another district with more resources for special needs children.
The Elizabeth School District also says it “takes pride in employing staff members that undergo extensive professional development and training,” with regards to children with disabilities.