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Exclusive: Angry Parents Speak Out After Special Needs Students Made To Dig Through Trash For Recyclables

JURUPA VALLEY ( — A group of special needs students and their angry parents spoke out in front of the Jurupa Valley School Board Monday night about a "humiliating" first day at school where they were made to dig through the dumpster for recyclables.

Former Patriot High School student Arianna Lizarraga cried as she told board members, "I'm done with people treating me like an idiot, like a moron, like I'm stupid."

The teen's mom, Rhonie, said she only just found out about it: "She felt stigmatized. She didn't tell me about it. And I didn't find out until the story come out on the news."

Last week, many parents of students with special needs learned their children were asked to sift through trash for cans and bottles while at school.

District leaders have since suspended the recycling program, which they said was in effect for years and raised money to teach life skills to special education students.

"Uh, sorry, but the message you're sending is you're training them to be homeless," parent Carmen Wells told the board.

Superintendent Elliott Duchon apologized and promised to investigate the complaints.

Board member Brian Schafer has a child with special needs and said there are better ways to fundraise, such as having students create and sell art.

"My special needs student was great at art. During Thanksgiving and Christmas they would paint pine cones," Schafer said.

The board member also said he's asking for an audit to find out where all the money from the recycling program went.

It's unclear if any administrators will be punished because of the program.

RELATED STORY: Family Outraged School Had Students With Special Needs Dig Through Trash For Recyclables


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