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Parents of Special-needs Student Accuse School of Poor Supervision

Washoe County School District
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RENO -- Jennifer and Rick Potter's son Aaron, who has Down Syndrome, should be in school.

However, his family has decided to keep him at home until they meet with their attorney.

Why have they pulled him out of school?

"The idea of him going back to a school that won't take care of his special needs... and he gets killed, kidnapped, or lost," Jennifer says, "and that scares me to death."

Jennifer is still upset after she picked her son up from Donner Springs Elementary School on Thursday and found him wandering around the parking lot by himself.

Aaron is 10 years old, but Down Syndrome has left him with the mental capacity of a three-year-old. His parents say special needs are not being met -- and they blame lack of supervision.

"When we drop our children off, we are dropping them in their care," Jennifer says.

Jennifer says Aaron's class has 11 children with special needs, one teacher, and sometimes two aides. She questions if that's really enough.

Washoe County School District student support director Doug Whitener says it is.

"State laws prescribes a certain number of students per classroom due to the disability involved," he says.

According to the law, Aaron's classroom situation is legal. Whitener says every year, each student meets with a group of specialists to determine their individual education program.

But the Potters say that's not enough, if their son can leave school unnoticed all by himself.

"I just want something done," Jennifer says. "My son is suffering from it."

Administrators say they only want what's best for the students, just like parents. District officials wouldn't comment about Aaron's specific situation, but they did say the matter is under investigation.

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