Girl traumatised by toilet mishap

Samantha Stevens, 11, a student at Albert Park Public School, is so traumatised by her humiliating experience she is reluctant to resume her schooling.
Samantha Stevens, 11, a student at Albert Park Public School, is so traumatised by her humiliating experience she is reluctant to resume her schooling. Jacklyn Wagner

A CASINO family claims their disabled daughter was forced to defecate into her pants at school because her teacher's aide was not authorised to take her to the toilet.

The NSW Department of Education has denied the family's claim, stating the girl was immediately catered for.

Samantha Stevens is an 11-year-old student at Albert Park Public School in Lismore and has spina bifida.

As part of her enrolment at the school, a State Government-funded teacher's aide is required to assist her with catheterisation three times a day and take her to the toilet when necessary.

On Tuesday – after months of discussion with the school over how to cater for Samantha – Samantha asked her teacher's aide to take her to the toilet.

A close family friend of Samantha's told The Northern Star the teacher's aide said she had not been signed off to take her to the toilet and to just defecate in her Drynite (disposable nappy) and the aide would change her afterwards.

Shay Hall, who spoke on behalf of the Stevens family, said the teacher's aide had taken Samantha to the toilet plenty of times prior to this week's incident.

“It's just a mess and for (the aide) to say that to her is just not right,” Ms Hall said.

Samantha missed a day of school on Wednesday and cried when told she would have to go back to school yesterday, Ms Hall said.

“We tried to explain to her she needs to go to school, but she is very traumatised by it and does not want to go,” she said.

“All we want is for Samantha to have rights like everyone else.”

Ms Hall said the school contacted the Stevens family after the incident and apologised and said Samantha was okay to attend school the next day.

The NSW Department of Education (DET) confirmed the teacher's aide told Samantha she had not yet been shown the toileting procedure.

“...but the student was immediately catered for and processes are in place to ensure the student can be toileted immediately on request,” a DET spokesman said.

Two weeks ago Samantha, Ms Hall and Samantha's mother, Gail Stevens, were reported in The Northern Star protesting outside Albert Park Public School against Samantha's treatment.

The family was informed they needed a protester's permit from Lismore City Council, which they are still awaiting for.

Both DET and the Stevens family confirmed they had signed a Health Care Plan last week, which outlined how Samantha's needs were to be catered for.

Another area of contention was the driveway into the school and the only access available to Samantha.

Each day Samantha rides a motorised scooter into the school, which her parents say is unsafe. Mr and Mrs Stevens asked for an inspection of the driveway by an independent contractor.

The DET spokesman said the driveway was assessed by “independent therapists over a year ago".

“Following concerns raised by the family it has just been reassessed by an Occupational Health and Safety manager and has been reconfirmed as safe for the scooter,” he said.

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