Thursday, May 28, 2009
7 News Investigations: Tough to Swallow
Imagine your child comes home from school and tells you a teacher forced them to drink a liquid. When you talked to the school district about it, they refuse to give you any information. It happened to one South Florida mother, and as Patrick Fraser reports, the treatment is Tough to Swallow.
WSVN -- Everyday Pamela Davis likes to talk with her son about his day at school, but one afternoon his response floored her.
Pam Davis: "I almost lost it. Then I said, 'What do you mean she gave you some medicine? What happened? Start over from the beginning.'"
Mikail told her he was in his first class at Miami Edison Middle School that morning when his teacher looked at him.
Mikail Watson: "And then I coughed, and she said, 'No coughing in my class,' and I was like, 'All right.'"
The teacher then got a bottle out of her desk and walked over to him.
Mikail Watson: "She said, 'Open your mouth,' and I opened my mouth, and she had put it in my mouth."
Mikail says the brown liquid the teacher put in his mouth tasted horrible, that he almost threw up, but it was nothing like the taste in Pam's mouth when she found out that evening.
Patrick Fraser: "Did you ever give them permission to give him any kind of medication?
Pam Davis: "Never, never."
Patrick Fraser: "Did they ever show you the medicine that they gave him?"
Pam Davis: "No."
Pam was told the teacher said it was cough medicine, but what the teacher didn't know is that an hour before she forced Mikail to drink the liquid, Pam had given him medicine for his allergies.
Pam Davis: "I had medicated him before going to school, at the house. I medicated him and that was at 7:30, and taking another medication within an hour I am sure is not good for him, you know."
Mikail says he didn't feel well, but he was OK. Still, it frightens Pam to think of what could have happened to him or any child when a teacher forces them to swallow something.
Pam Davis: "Luckily, my child was not harmed to a degree where he had to be hospitalized. Kids are allergic and will suffer if taking things they are not supposed to have."
The incident happened on Oct. 31. The next day, Pam wrote letters to school officials. They said they would investigate, and they had some words for her.
Pam Davis: "The principal told me I should not discuss the matter with anyone. The investigator who investigated me told me I shouldn't discuss the matter with anyone."
A week later, the county did talk to Mikail to hear his story, and they had some advice for him as well.
Mikail Watson: "She said, 'You can't be telling everybody about this case until it is closed.'"
Patrick Fraser: "So she told you to be quiet?"
Mikail Watson: "Yes."
Seven months have now passed. In February, Pam sent this letter to find out what was going on. She got this letter back from the school district telling her it was under investigation. There were no answers to this mother's questions.
Pam Davis: "Where is the teacher? Is she still teaching? Is she in another school and may harm some other students? What was the content of the medicine? What gave this teacher the notion to medicate this child?"
Patrick Fraser: "We also contacted the Miami-Dade School District, eight phone calls to be exact, wanting to ask simple questions such as, can a teacher force a student to drink a liquid? Did the teacher notify the principal, and if so why didn't the school contact Pam? And why does it take seven months to investigate what a teacher did? After my eighth call to district headquarters, I got a response, the same message Pam got, it's under investigation, we can't talk about it."
Pam Davis: "I am livid about the situation because the fact is it's not her job to medicate my son. Her job is to teach, and that's what I send him to school for."
Pam also thought it was the school district's job to keep her informed. After waiting seven months, she has given up.
Pam Davis: "My next move now is to seek litigation because I would have liked for the situation to be settled without litigation, but it doesn't seem like they are going to move or give me any information until I get an attorney involved."
All she wanted was information, instead their refusal to answer is Tough to Swallow.