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California mother claims district offered family thousands to keep autistic son out of school

10:30 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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YUBA CITY, CA (KXTV) -- The mother of a child with severe autism and diabetes said two school districts are violating her son's right to an education.

Heather Houston has been involved in ongoing negotiations with Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD) and the Sutter County superintendent of schools (SCSOS)since last year.

According to Houston, they've discriminated against her son, David Swanson, and refused to follow his individualized education program (IEP). They've even barred him from campus with his private duty nurse, despite doctor's orders.

On the first day of school in mid-August, the nurse refused to sign a medical release form which would allow the district's school nurse to communicate with Swanson's doctor and care for him. Houston said the school denied him and the nurse entry because of the nurse's refusal, even though the waiver reads the refusal will not affect the student's education.

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Mom: School endangers, discriminates against son with autism, diabetes

Houston said school officials are going to extreme lengths, even offering tens of thousands of dollars to keep Swanson out of school.

"They don't have a right to do it to anyone," Houston said. "And they don't have a right to do it to David."

Houston said she just wanted YCUSD and SCSOS to comply with the law. According to Houston, it's never been about money and their unsolicited payment offers show how far they are willing to go keep him out of school.

The first settlement offer came in June. Houston was offered $50,000 to take Swanson out of their school district.

Houston rejected it.

Then another offer was made Aug. 27. It was for $86,000.

"At some point, they want me to sign his rights away, which I'm never going to do," Houston said. "You could offer me a million. I'm not going to take any money to sign away my son's rights to an education."

Houston is baffled by the amount of money they're willing to shell out to keep Swanson out.

Houston's four other sons graduated from Yuba City schools.

"The things they were denied because of budgets cuts," Heather explained. "We've all been through those."

All Houston wants is to make sure Swanson has a fighting chance in the world. For her, it all starts in the classroom.

"I don't have a right to sign it away," Swanson said. "They don't have a right to deny it."

Houston said she plans to take her son's fight to court.
SCSOS attorney Heather Edwards said she can't comment on ongoing litigation. She denied any wrongdoing on the district's part.

YCUSD Superintendent Nancy Aaberg confirmed a settlement offer was made in June, but said she wasn't aware of the latest $86,000 offer.

Siemny Chhuon, News10/KXTV

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