SoCal mom wants approval for autistic child to wear GPS tracker to school

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A Bakersfield mom wants to get approval for her 6-year-old daughter with autism to wear a GPS tracking device to school in hopes of preventing wandering, but the school district is fighting her request.

“We don’t sleep much,” mother Darcy Cotton told KBAK. “And it has affected our relationships, our ability to go out into the community, we are always exhausted and constantly living in a state of fear.”

For the past few years, Cotton has been sleeping on the couch and losing sleep worrying that her daughter Jaden, a student at Fairfax School District in Bakersfield, will wander.

A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that roughly half of all children with autism will wander at least once.

While searching for ways to prevent the wandering, Cotton found the AngelSense GPS tracking device, which attaches to a belt and cannot be removed without a key.

Cotton wants Jaden to wear the device to school, but the district won’t allow it.

Michael Coleman, superintendent at Fairfax School District, says there is a concern that it could be a privacy issue for students and staff. He also said it is currently not a medical necessity or under her individualized education program.

“It really goes into the general population as a parent want,” Coleman said. “And as close as we can get into it right now, it would be like allowing students to come with smart devices that are on and used during the day and our policy does not allow that.”

Coleman said he wants to work with Cotton to find a solution and plans to meet with her on Friday.

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