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Mt. Olive mother homeschooling autistic son after child comes home with bruises

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MT. OLIVE, IL (KPLR) – A Macoupin County family turned to homeschooling their special needs child after he came home with unexplained bruises.

Last month, the six-year-old first-grader came home from his special needs classroom at Mount Olive Elementary with unexplained bruises on his stomach and arms.

Thomas was diagnosed with a form of autism, ADHD, and several other physical health issues. But in his mother Jodi’s eyes, the barrier that is keeping him from going to school is his fear. On September 22, she found a large bruise on his stomach and bruises on his arms. She believes someone tried to improperly restrain her child.

“My son had come home with some marks on his arms, underneath his arms, and a large bruise on the side of his stomach,” she said. “I knew that he had had a rough day at school.”

Jodi said she’s afraid to send her son back to the classroom in the Mt. Olive Elementary School until the person or persons her son said hurt him are removed.

“My son tells me daily that ‘I love school; I want to go to school, mommy, but please don’t let the lady hurt me no more.’”

Jodi said the case is under investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The special needs coordinator for the Mt. Olive, Gillespie, and Staunton cooperative said regulations prohibit her from discussing the case. The three school districts share classrooms and services for students with developmental disabilities.

Susy Woods, a special needs child advocate who knows Thomas and the family, said recent cuts to school budgets across Illinois are making it hard on districts and parents.

“With autism, especially, kids have meltdowns and it has to be somebody who is not just an aide but very well-trained in what to do when a child has a meltdown,” Woods said.

Meanwhile, Jodi said the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is investigating the situation and also pushing her to put the boy back in school.

“The DCFS is saying, ‘No, your son needs the school,’ but the school is causing the big part of the problem with my son. So I almost feel like I’m either going to be forced to have him in there or not have my child,” she said.

Jodi said the special needs school cooperative has offered her son a one-on-one aide, but could not guarantee the boy will have no physical contact with the aide or aides who he said hurt him.

The Illinois State Board of Education did not respond to FOX 2's request for comment.