Chicago parents outraged after autistic daughter strapped to school bus seat

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The parents of a five year old autistic girl say they were shocked when they found her strapped to the seat of her school bus this week.

Now, the Chicago Public Schools are looking into the use of the restraint.
"This is what they put on my daughter. My daughter is not an animal,” said mother Rachel Sanchez Figueroa.

Figueroa showed FOX 32 the restraint device her daughter was wearing when her bus arrived from school on Wednesday.

Five year old Mila Figueroa is autistic and not capable of speaking. Her father says he was shocked when he climbed aboard the bus as it pulled up in front of their home in the east side neighborhood.

"I looked at it, I said 'What's she wearing? What is this?' She said we didn't want to put it on her but the school made us do it. I was like what if I don't like it? She's just hanging like's not safe for her,” said father Rigoberto Figueroa.

Mila has been attending a pre-k program at Langston Hughes school for the past two and a half years. The school provides an aide to ride on the bus to help Mila and other children with special needs.

the figueroa's say the aid on the afternoon bus told the driver mila had to be restrained to the seat, even though they say they've never been told about any problems on the bus.

"The school in order for her to leave she had to have that on for her safety. But my daughter's never had no prior issues with the afternoon bus driver. Because that's the same bus driver who's been driving her for the past two years,” mom said.

Mila's parents are also worried after finding tears on the jacket their daughter has worn to school for the past couple months. The seams behind both shoulders are ripped.

"I'm angry because my daughter's autistic. She's non-verbal.  You saw that when she was playing with you. She's non-verbal. She can't fend for herself. And everybody knows my daughter. Nobody has a problem with my daughter,” mom added.

Since FOX 32 conducted that interview and began making calls, CPS has been in contact with the family. Rachel says school officials told her the bus aide will be transferred to another route. Rachel also says she never gave CPS permission to restrain Mila, but it appears the use of restraint was authorized in her IEP plan. That has now been removed.

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