Vulnerable boy dies after allegedly being left alone in room at Ontario school

The 16 year old’s mother says her son had special needs and warned the school he could not be left alone because he suffered seizures.

An Ontario mother is devastated after her 16-year-old son with special needs was found unresponsive and alone at his school two weeks ago, and later pronounced dead.

Brenda Davis, whose son Landyn had Dravet Syndrome, is looking for answers on why no one was allegedly with him. She’s left wondering whether he would still be alive if someone had been.

Dravet Syndrome is a rare type of epilepsy that causes seizures.

Landyn was in Grade 10 at Trenton Public High School. He was found unresponsive in a private room, known as a sensory room, on May 14.

“All we know at this stage is that Landyn was left unattended in a room for some time, and he was found dead at the end of the day by teachers,” said lawyer Josh Nisker, who is representing Davis.

It’s unclear how long Landyn had allegedly been left unattended, Nisker said. “It is my understanding he was found at the end of the day to be woken up to get on the bus to go home. He was found unresponsive and his body was cold.”

Nisker explained that prior to the incident, Davis had told the school that Landyn couldn’t be left alone, especially if he was napping, as sleep was often a trigger for his seizures.

Due to his condition, Davis slept in the same room as her son every night. “She would either sleep in a bed with him or sleep on the floor on a mattress to be with him at night to ensure that he woke up every day safely and happy,” said Nisker.

The police and the coroner are investigating, according to Nisker, but he said in incidents like these, sometimes it takes legal action to get answers.

“The school board has not been forthcoming with the family,” he said. “And the hope is that through this process, we do get answers and ensure that like this never happens again.”

Davis was too distraught to speak with CityNews, but described her devastation on social media: “Never in a million years would I think they would close the door with him in a room like that, and not have eyes and ears on my boy.”

In a statement to CityNews, the Hastings and Prince Edward County School Board said, as with any tragic event, a “comprehensive review of procedures and processes is underway.”

A spokesperson for the board would not comment on the protocol involving students with special needs and the sensory room, along with whether these students were allowed to be left alone.

“The family is grieving, as are students, staff and the greater school community. Our hearts go out to everyone affected during this difficult time,” continued the statement.

In a statement, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said the loss of a child is “an unspeakable tragedy.”

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Trenton High School student who passed away and to the entire Hasting and Prince Edward District School Board community.”

Lecce also said the police and school board have launched an investigation into the incident. “I know all parties will work together to ensure this tragedy does not occur again,” the statement continued.

The Ontario Autism Coalition has repeatedly called for more funding in schools, adding incidents affecting children with disabilities are often due to chronic underfunding.

“We’ve been trying to sound the alarm bells with the government for a number of years now about the lack of safety in schools for children with special needs,” said Kate Dudley-Logue, vice-president of community outreach at the Ontario Autism Coalition. “There is a serious lack of resources. […] kids are in danger on a daily basis.”

Nisker said as part of the family’s case, they will be looking into a lack of resources led to this incident as well.

“Staffing might certainly be a component of this, but ultimately it’s a claim of negligence, negligence being that the teachers, educational assistants and administrators did not meet the standard of reasonable educators … to ensure that this child who was entrusted to their care was provided for, supervised, treated with dignity and respect,” he explained.

Nisker tells CityNews he has dealt with other personal injury cases involving children at schools, but nothing like this. “It’s a tragic case. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

A fundraiser has been started to help his mother with funeral costs. It describes Landyn as happy-go-lucky, a child who often gave his mother bouquets of dandelions and loved to sing to his classmates.

“Landyn was a son, a brother, a nephew, a classmate,” the fundraiser dedication states. “He was filled to the brim with goodness, light, kindness, singing songs and picking flowers.”

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