JURUPA VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — The family of a student with special needs in Jurupa Valley is furious that his school had him and his classmates rummage through the trash for recyclables.
Officials at Patriot Valley High School announced Wednesday that they’ve suspended the program in response to the backlash.
“The shame and the embarrassment for the children, it hurts,” said Carmen Wells, who complained to the Jurupa Unified School District on Tuesday. She said her son, Marcus, came home upset from his first day back at school because he was told to put on gloves and dig through the trash, alongside other students with special needs.
She said she couldn’t believe her ears.
“It bothered my son, but he wants to be part of everyone, part of the team, so he’s going to do it,” Wells said. “I felt victimized for my child and his classmates.”
District officials confirm students with special needs were instructed to sift through trash cans for recyclables and that they’ve been having students with special needs do this for years. They said the money raised from the recycled items funds a larger training plan that teaches students with special needs about managing money, among other life skills.
“My kid should not be in the garbage can for your recycling,” Wells said.
Jurupa Unified declined an on-camera interview, instead releasing a statement that said in part: “Yesterday, a parent new to the school expressed concern about the way in which students collected the recyclable materials. In response, the school temporarily suspended the activity in order to review the current process and consider changes.”
The district said they’ll likely get separate recycling bins so students no longer have to dig through the trash.