Weighted vest controversy in South Bend schools


A South Bend family is furious their son's kindergarten teacher forced him to wear a weighted vest at school.Richard and Miranda Hinds say they found out in a note sent home Monday from the teacher that their son was made to wear a 5-pound weighted vest in class.Their 5-year-old son Carter attends Swanson Primary School."I was furious and I felt bad for my son," said Miranda.School administrators say it is an acceptable form of intervention used for some students.The parents argue they should have been asked first."I had never heard of that, said Miranda. It's the first time that has been brought to my attention."

An internet search shows a variety of child's weighted vests. They are normally lightweight fabric with pockets so beanbag type weights can be added.Weighted vests are considered sensory equipment, used in most cases to assist autistic or special needs children.A December 2012 South Bend Community School Corporation newsletter says these vests, lap blankets and other equipment could be used as an option for any student struggling to pay attention and sit still.

The Hinds say their son is a normal, active little boy and immediately contacted the teacher to complain."She said it helped with his movement and soothed him," said Robert.

They were told Carter wore the vest two days recently...20-minutes at a time, with an hour-and-a-half break in between.

Reporter Denise Bohn asked Carter about what he thought about the vest."Is it really heavy," he explained."Do you like wearing it? No. Why not? 'Cuz when I walk it makes me fall,' added Carter.

Hinds and her husband are so upset they are keeping Carter home from school."When we inquired about it, her (the teachers) response was, 'Do I have to inform you every time I implement a new behavioral strategy?' When it comes to putting a 5 pound weighted vest on my child, absolutely!" said Miranda.

"It seems extreme to me. It does," stressed Richard.

Sue Coney, Director of Communications with the South Bend School Corporation, says they are unable to comment on any particular student but did release a statement, saying they "use a variety of interventions for students. These are not used for discipline."The Hinds say they were very apprehensive about sending Carter back to school here and are looking into transferring.The Hinds say just last week, they had a parent-teacher conference with their son's teacher, and she never discussed using a weighted vest.They have learned that one other child in the class has had to wear the vest as well.The school has reassured the Hinds that Carter will not be made to wear the vest again.The Hinds have a meeting set up with school officials on Friday.