MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of Concordia University students is going national by trying to expand a Minnesota law requiring that schools make parents aware of any mistreatment.
In January, WCCO-TV’s Liz Collin first told the story of Kyle Herman, a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome, who was physically and verbally abused by his teacher.
Prosecutors said Chris Fortin repeatedly abused Kyle, but it took nearly two years before his parents learned of the abuse. When his story became public, a group of college students became involved.
“It made us just feel overjoyed that someone was willing to help us out and help Kyle out and kids like him,” said Kyle’s dad, Shawn Herman.
The Concordia students first helped get Kyle’s Law passed at the state level — making it mandatory that parents are informed when maltreatment occurs. Now, they are taking their case to Washington.
“We are here today because last year our classmates made the Kyle Herman bill, law. Speaker Newt Gingrich was intrigued by it because he wants to see education reform through all 50 states of America,” said student John Borchert.
Gingrich is one of many politicians the students will be meeting with over the next two days. They want to see Kyle’s Law adopted in every state — and so do Kyle’s parents.
“Now to bring it to a national level and a forefront and for people in D.C. to show some interest in it as well, it’s just great,” said Kyle’s mom, Lora Herman.
While the students fight for change, Kyle is doing better. He’s at a different school now and improving each day.
“He’s getting a lot of good one-on-one attention. I think being in a conducive environment is very advantageous for him,” said Lora.
The students will be giving legislators a list of questions to ask their schools, about how abuse is reported or not reported in their states.
The students have met former President Bill Clinton and they will be meeting with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on Friday.
There could also be some more changes to the Minnesota law. Kyle’s parents and the students are trying to create a “one and done” law. If that passes, a teacher who abuses a student can lose their license almost immediately.
Fortin, the teacher who abused Kyle, was fired from Kenneth Hall Elementary School and had her teacher’s license suspended for three years.
WCCO-TV’s John Lauritsen Reports