Mother outraged after claiming her narcoleptic daughter was told to sleep in school closet

Mother outraged after claiming her narcoleptic daughter was told to sleep in school closet
Gracie Farnsworth attends Virginia Williamson Elementary in Bolivia. (Donovan, Chelsea)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A closet in a classroom inside her child’s school is where a mother claims a teacher told her daughter to nap due to a condition the child has.

“With narcolepsy, it means that you fall asleep uncontrollably at random times,” said Tara Petty, 9-year-old Gracie Farnsworth’s mother.

(Tara Petty)

Petty says her fourth grader was diagnosed with the condition at age 6, and also has cataplexy, which can cause a person to collapse, but remain conscious, after experiencing strong emotions like laughter or stress.

“When she takes her nap, she can sleep no longer than 30 minutes at a time because she will go into a deep sleep and it’s harder for her to come out of it,” Petty said.

According to Petty, Farnsworth has a doctor’s note that allows her to take naps at Virginia Williamson Elementary School in Bolivia. Farnsworth has taken these naps for several years, but on Tuesday, Petty learned where those short snoozes have been happening.

“At the parent-teacher conference, they said she takes her naps in a closet in the room because it’s dark and quiet in there and they don’t want her to be disturbed,” said Petty.

Before this year, Petty said Farnsworth would sleep on a mat in the classroom or even at her desk, not alone in a closet.

“To me, there are places she can sleep other than a closet," Petty said. "You don’t even put your dog in a closet. She is already an outcast because she has this narcolepsy.”

Infuriated, Petty says Wednesday morning she met with the principal, who said she would move Farnsworth to the nurses station, and that it wasn’t the teacher’s intention to harm Farmsworth in any way.

(Donovan, Chelsea)

“I’m still angry," Petty said. "I don’t understand why the closet was an option in the first place.

"I was so livid and so angry, honestly I am glad school was out yesterday because if I wasn’t given time to calm down, I would have probably showed my tail.”

While privacy laws prohibit Brunswick County Schools from commenting on a specific student, they did sent WECT a statement that read in part:

“...we can absolutely say our principals, counselors, teachers and staff go out of their way to work with all parents to problem solve when there is any kind of concern.”

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