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A New York mother is fighting for justice and accountability after being informed that pictures of her autistic son were taken in a high school bathroom by his fellow students.
Karen Close, a divorced mother whose son attends Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York, told Fox News Digital that she was on a phone call discussing an individualized educational plan meeting for her 18-year-old son on March 18 when his teacher said that a “safety goal” needed to be discussed.
Confused, Close asked why her son needed a safety goal. The teacher allegedly responded without much information, stating that a “safety goal” needed to be in place when her son uses the bathroom. The next morning, Close and another family called the shool’s principal and director of special education. Together, they found out that other students were taking pictures of Close’s son and the other family’s child.
Close said that the school administrators were “very vague” in describing what exactly happened beyond stating that pictures were taken, but said that the incident was reported to school officials on March 11, meaning that there was a gap of more than a week between when the school found out and when the mother learned about it.
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After the mother and families of other students who may have been victims began their search for answers, they found out this was not an isolated incident, and that it may have even been going on for months. Close said she was also told on March 22 by school administrators that a formal police investigation would take place.
On March 31, the school district sent a letter to parents, stating that a “very disturbing incident” had taken place at Fox Lane High School “which violated the privacy of some of our students.” Fox Lane High School did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Unsatisfied with the pace of the investigation, a flyer was put up by Close and other families with a tip line and cash reward for information leading to the identification of the people who took the pictures.
Pictures began to come in “within a matter of a few hours,” and some appeared to have been from September, according to Close, and looked to have been sent using Snapchat. Close also said that other special needs children were impacted and had their pictures taken.
Some of the photos, she said, were selfies that included the perpetrators’ faces.
“They had their face in the picture with our children at the urinals with their naked back and their feet,” Close said.
The mother was told that the students responsible for the acts were suspended through the fall, but she wanted more action and answers on why it took so long for the school to inform parents about the incident.
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The Bedford Central School District Board of Education voted during an April meeting to hire an independent investigator to look at the incident. At the same time, the local police department and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office were also conducting an investigation into the incident, which both failed to produce charges.
Close said she still has not been contacted by the school’s independent investigator.
In a statement provided to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office it did not press charges after reviewing the facts and consulting with the families of the victims.
“After our review of the facts and circumstances, and in consultation with the families of the victims over which the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office has jurisdiction, we have closed our investigation without the filing of any criminal charges against the individuals over which our Office has jurisdiction,” the spokesperson said.
The Bedford Police Department also chose not to press charges, according to ABC7 News.
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When asked if the entire incident and dealings with the school, police department, and district attorney’s office had made her lose trust in a justice system that’s intended to protect people like her son, Close responded “absolutely.”
“100% the victims are not protected,” Close said” The perpetrator’s rights seem to be more important than the victims.”