Milton family fed up with school district

Family considering filing complaint with DPI
Milton family fed up with school district

The Hying family has several concerns with the School District of Milton involving their son Ethan, who they say is isolated from children his own age and forced to use the bathroom in a closet-like room.

“It’s just heart-wrenching that he can’t be with his peers, and they’re excluding him, and it’s not right,” said Aaron Hying, Ethan’s father.

Hying said the school district promised that, even though Ethan has disabilities, he would be able to attend Milton Middle School with his friends this year. Hying said he even paid the seventh grade enrollment fees, but the district refunded those fees when they told the Hying family Ethan would be attending Northside Intermediate School instead of the middle school.

“I tried to ask the school, ‘What’s the problem? Can we make a compromise on him coming part of the day to school?'” Hying said. “They said absolutely not. It’s not going to happen.”

Hying said Ethan will miss out on being with his classmates for two years because next school year the district said Ethan would attend the high school while his peers are in eighth grade.

“He has it hard enough as is and when you have him taken away from his friends for two whole years, it’s just unacceptable,” family friend Cody Bauer said.

Superintendent Tim Schigur said he’s not legally allowed to comment on cases involving specific students. Generally speaking, though, he did say some students were enrolled in different schools when the one they should attend doesn’t fit their needs.

“We provide wonderful programming no matter where the students go to school,” Schigur said. “The physical limitations of our buildings are a hindrance to locations of where some students may attend school.”

For example, Schigur said East Elementary has classes in the basement, so if a student is in a wheelchair, he or she would be bused to West Elementary for class instead.

“Sometimes, it’s not often, but it is on a regular enough basis that our physical facilities do limit programming decisions, and that’s unfortunate,” Schigur said. “That’s just what it is at our current status.”

Schigur said the decision to change a student’s school is decided by a team of education staff, special education staff, parents and sometimes directors and administrators who are involved in the student’s Individualized Education Program.

“What people need to know is that we don’t make these decisions lightly,” Schigur said. “Many decisions, when it comes to the physical locations, may depend on the physical limitations of the building, and those cannot be remedied as easily.”

Hying said he’s also concerned because Ethan is forced to use the bathroom in a closet-like room that he says doesn’t have running water.

“For them to choose to use a bucket for him to go to the bathroom is just not right when there’s a bathroom inside the learning disability area where he could easily use it,” Hying said. “It just takes him too long, they say.”

Volunteer advocate Tami Goldstein has been working with the Hying family. She said Ethan’s civil rights are being trampled.

“I realize there’s a lot of budgetary concerns, and the district had a second failed attempt at a referendum for a new school, but it doesn’t mean that the accommodations are not still needed for the children,” Goldstein said.

She said the family would like to work things out with the district but is considering filing a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.