I-Team: Hearing starts to see if autistic boy will be able to wear listening device in classroom

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A father is fighting to equip his autistic son with a listening device in a Las Vegas valley school, but the Clark County School District isn’t on board with that idea, so now a hearing master will make the decision.

A two-day hearing began Tuesday regarding the use of the device, AngelSense.  The hearing master heard testimony from both sides, including, Joshua and Britten Wahrer, parents to JJ.

“We are asking you to give JJ a voice.  Give him a voice by allowing him to wear this AngelSense monitor to class so the parents can be aware and participate and don’t have to rely on this record of the district coming forward to tell them that it screwed up again with their kid,”  said attorney Gregg Hubley who represents the Wahrers. 

Harmon Elementary School teacher Melody Carter was arrested in 2018 for hitting JJ with a stick, according to an arrest report.  Carter no longer works for CCSD and agreed to a plea deal.   JJ was not able to tell his parents he was abused.  They only learned of it because an investigation was opened.  

JJ, who is 6 years old, now attends Ferron Elementary School.  His parents claim staff does not communicate with them about issues with JJ, and since the child is traumatized, he tries to run out of the classroom.  

The parents believe AngelSense could keep JJ safe, in case he runs away while at school, plus it will allow them to listen to what is unfolding around him.   The I-Team has learned the school district would allow GPS but is against the listening capability citing privacy issues.

Marianne Lanuti is also an attorney for the Wahrers.  Lanuti grilled JJ’s current school principal about whether school staff is always truthful about reporting issues.

Marianne Lanuti, the Wahrers’ attorney: “I’m asking you if JJ is being harmed and abused. I thought you just said they probably wouldn’t report on themselves.”
Margaret Putnam, Ferron Elementary principal: “Correct.”
Lanuti:  “And JJ is non-verbal.”
Putnam:  “Correct.”
Lanuti:  “Do you think AngelSense might be important then?”
Putnam:  “I don’t know what AngelSense does, and I don’t think I’m the one to qualify to say whether it’s allowed or not allowed.”

Putnam also admitted the cameras at Ferron Elementary do not work, which is another safety issue. 

The I-Team first reported about the Wahrers’ fight in December.  On Monday, in an exclusive interview, Joshua Wahrer explained his concerns.

“It’s a constant worry because we’re; we’ll go a week here, a week there where we’re getting information,” Wahrer said. 

The I-Team reached out to the Clark County School District for comment: A spokesman said the district could not comment on pending litigation.

As the I-Team has been reporting, lawmakers are currently considering a law which would require cameras in classrooms with special needs students. 

The hearing will continue Wednesday, April 10 at Eastern Executive Suites located at 8565 S. Eastern Avenue. It starts at 9.a.m. and it is open to the public.

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