There have been many more disturbing updates about how she and her daughter have been treated in their hometown of Summerton.
Eva's daughter Sophia was supposed to start pre-kindergarten on August 19, the same day that all of the Central Savannah River Area counties on this side of the Savannah started school. Sophia has Asperger's disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder and childhood benign epilepsy. She is disabled and has a lot of medical needs. She also can't stand some smells, lights, textures, social situations and environments, to name a few.
The trouble began in Summerton, even before the Church's incident that occurred in Augusta.
On July 12, eighteen days before the Church's incident, there was an incident in which the principal of the Summerton Early Childhood Center made all kinds of excuses to disallow the Heischs' service dog to accompany Sophia as she was being evaluated and as the mother and daughter were collecting the proper paperwork necessary to enroll into pre-kindergarten.
The Heischs were confronted by the principal of the Early Childhood Center numerous times that day. Not once did the principal or the Clarendon County School District 1 staff made an attempt to help the mother and daughter, nor did they ask the Heischs what they needed. By confronting the mother and daughter, the principal triggered a reaction so bad in Sophia, she would up being hospitalized ,after she later started smashing and throwing items at her residence.
On August 5, the first day of pre-kindergarten enrollment (and six days after the Church's incident), the Heischs showed up at the district office. Eva once again requested an evaluation of Sophia. She also delivered a letter about the issues concerning the evaluation of Sophie, the service dog and Sophia's disability. The principal led her to the district office where the special services are located. Once again, the Heischs got the shaft from completely oblivious staff members who did not give Eva any of the information or paperwork she was asking for, nor did Eva receive any assistance. The members only printed out copies of Sophia's medical history and then sent the Heischs back to the Early Childhood Center to enroll.
And once again, school administrators, ice cold water in their veins and all, triggered Sophia. However, Eva got Sophia through that episode and they left.
Even after the first day of enrollment ended, the Heischs heard nothing from the administrators. Eva then contacted the Office of Exceptional Education at the State Department of Education in Columbia. That office said that they would look into the matter.
On August 14, the state worker called Eva back and said that the school district did not schedule any meeting with the Heischs because Eva told them that their last week of summer vacation would be spent in Orlando, Fla., the home of Disney World. Eva rightfully questioned the district's actions, and how they refused to arrange a meeting while the mother and daughter were in Orlando in order to keep things running smoothly.
The meeting eventually happened on August 19, the first day of school for Clarendon County (and the nine SC CSRA counties). In that meeting, Eva finally had the chance she was waiting for: to air her concerns with daughter Sophia and what accommodations that were needed for her. However, the school administrators seemed tone-deaf to the concerns.
Three days later, another meeting was scheduled. The district still didn't tell Eva anything.
That is when Eva made the decision to bring Sophia to school with the service dog on the following Monday, August 26.
However, after the meeting on August 22, Eva was told that the school would assign someone to Sophia under one condition: the service dog was not allowed.
So, Eva complied with the school's demands. Sophia immediately started having problems. Also, that is when the hassles began about the temporary accommodations.
The principal of the school said that the school could no longer accommodate her in any way, claiming it was a "strain". Furthermore, the school refused to give Sophia any drinks during class, even though she was coming home dehydrated after school -- and a lot of the meds she was on required extra fluids.
The school district still took their precious little time in getting the evaluation done and were not allowing any real accommodations for Sophia.
After that, Eva took Sophia out of school and said that the only way the 4-year-old was coming back was with her and the service animal so Eva can observe what was going on for herself. She was disappointed to say the least about what was going on in the school. Her daughter was lost during school. She was not being included in the class to an appropriate extent, she refused to communicate with them and they did not even try to communicate with her much. Eva was being held responsible for making certain she was where she needed to be and doing what she needed to be doing, she was held responsible for finding her own way to the nurse’s office for her medication and diaper changes, she was being told to use a different sink to wash her hands and could not use the one in the bathroom like the other kids, she was being told to stay in a certain center for long periods of time with no assistance from a teacher, guidance, or instruction as to what she was supposed to be doing there, she was being directed to do things she did not know how to do and not being told how to even do them, she was left out of recitals of the alphabet, numbers, days of the weeks, etc because she didn’t know what they were and no one would even bother to help her. Eva asked her what she was supposed to be doing or other questions about what they were instructing her to do and she would say things like “I don’t know” or “They don’t tell me Mommy.” It was as if she didn’t really exist unless she got in the way or did something wrong.
After spending 1.5 days at school, the administrators devised a plan to get rid of Eva. The school told Eva that Sophia was not allowed to participate in anything due to the service animal, meaning the school admitted (albeit in a subtle manner) that they were blatantly violating both Title I and the Disabilities Act of 1990. That's when Eva called the cops and things got even uglier. Eva was told that Sophia could come back, but her service dog had to be left behind at home on September 12.
Eva finally had answers after numerous days with local media, and state officials. A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division deputy told Eva that the school had alleged that the service animal was attacking others, a claim that surveillance video inside the school outed as an outright lie told by the school administrators.
However, local law enforcement did not review the tapes and told Eva that the service dog was no longer allowed, despite the fact that an aforementioned 23-year-old federal law outlaws exactly what local officers were telling Eva.
That's when the lying thugs in suits and badges threatened to arrest Eva if she came back to the school.
Despite those threats, Eva came to monitor the school's actions on September 18.
Two videos below is the proof that is needed of how abusive Clarendon District 1 and Clarendon County Sheriff's Department (which hired the SROs) were towards Sophia, Eva and their service dog on September 18 and 19. These videos are NSFW, and are coming with a trigger warning.
After that, the school district -- knowing full well that they have brazenly and blatantly violated numerous state and federal laws -- attempted to have Manning's DSS remove Sophia from the care of Eva and her husband. At first, that plan didn't succeed. Then, they had the SRO arrest Eva, strip the service dog of its vest and have Sophia taken to Manning. DSS, however, gave the Heisch family back custody of Sophia hours later.
That is when the Heisch family asked for investigations to be conduced by both the state and federal Department of Education. At the time of the federal inquiry, the US government was shut down, and no investigations were happening at that time (the federal government have since re-opened).
This is a very damning case of gross discrimination by a school district that should know better. Everything that has been documented, from the letter to the videos, tell me that Clarendon 1 knew they were lying to the Heischs, and that Clarendon 1 knew that they were violating at least three laws and they didn't even care.
Good thing that Eva plans to take their asses to federal court in a Title I lawsuit, because all of the evidence points to a blatant Title I violation by the school district as a whole. Clarendon School District 1, which was part of the Corridor of Shame for its impoverished schools in the past, is now part of a new ableist, discriminatory Corridor of Shame for their gross treatment of a disabled pre-K pupil.
It is time for justice for Sophia.
Read this harrowing letter Eva Heisch wrote.