PLAINFIELD (CBS) — A Plainfield mother says an attempt to fight for her child’s rights ended with her being banned from school property.
Now, it’s the focus of a federal civil rights investigation.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reports it’s not the first red flag raised about how the district handles parent concerns.
Laura Pell admits she’s protective of her 5-year-old daughter Lia and her three older children.
It’s one reason Pell went to see the principal at Lia’s school, Lincoln Elementary in August. Pell says her kindergartner was left to wander around the school, unsupervised, after returning from an outside therapy session earlier that day.
“I was concerned she’d exit the building and be gone,” Pell said. “There’s no alarms on the door.”
Those concerns were heightened by the fact that Lia has an individualized education program (IEP) for impulsivity and other issues.
Pell says the principal listened.
She later voiced some concerns on Facebook and then got a no trespass notice from District 202 stating she was not allowed on school property.
“They told me I couldn’t even drop her off,” Pell said.
The district cited safety concerns and parent complaints to police about Pell as reasons for the order. Pell reviewed police records and turned up nothing.
She kept fighting, ultimately filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s office of civil rights, which is now investigating the district for disability retaliation.
“I felt it was pure retaliation for me seeing something and reporting it,” said Pell.
In 2018, several grade school parents in the district told CBS 2 their bullying concerns were never adequately addressed, something district officials vehemently denied.
District 202 spokesman Tom Hernandez says there was no retaliation at all in Pell’s case but couldn’t say any more.
Pell admits to being a vocal critic of the district at times and runs a parent Facebook group for parent concerns.
As for the no trespass, a state education official says there is no policy about if or when districts can issue them.