PALERMO N.Y. — Pages of court documents show repeated attempts by teachers to help a 17-year-old with cerebral palsy who investigators say ultimately died from neglect at the hands of his parents.
Jordan Brooks, of Palermo, died in May 2021, and after a 10-month investigation, his mother, Lisa Waldon, and step-father, Anthony Waldron, were arrested and charged with criminally-negligent homicide and manslaughter.
Ultimately, the Oswego County Sheriff's Office said the Waldrons caused Jordan's death by not moving him from his wheelchair enough, leading to infected bedsores that exposed his bones. They didn't take him to the doctor, investigators said, to check on his issues swallowing the led to weight loss. Jordan died from malnutrition and sepsis, according to the documents.
The statements in those court documents—15 in total—come from people who played a variety of roles in Jordan’s life, including his mother, teachers and teaching assistants, speech-language therapists and pathologists, and the Director of Pupil Services at Mexico Central High School.
READ MORE | Deputies: Teen with cerebral palsy died from neglect, mom and step-father arrested
The pages outline concern after concern about Jordan’s health that began in the 2018-2019 school year when he was in eighth grade in the Mexico Central School District.
Throughout that school year, teachers noticed sores consistent with pressure points from a wheelchair, which Jordan needed to get around. The teachers noticed Jordan had urinated through his diaper multiple times but was sent to school without it being changed.
Court documents say multiple calls were made to Child Protective Services but that a caseworker "demonstrated hostility and annoyance with school staff for making hotline calls. She said that in such situations, the parents should be given the benefit of the doubt because they are trying as hard as they can."
But Jordan Brooks' troubles didn't stop.
In April 2019, his school aide noticed a "baseball-sized sore" on Jordan's hip. The middle school principal cleaned Jordan's wheelchair which was soaked with urine and they called CPS again. During this interview with CPS, the caseworker said she "could not smell urine on his chair."
The following month, teachers spoke with Lisa Waldron about getting appropriate hygiene products for Jordan. They said they explained to her what she would need to keep him from wetting himself, and gave her a company that would work with Medicaid to provide them. During a follow-up call, Lisa Waldron told the teachers the supplies were "lost in the mail."
During the fall of 2019 when Jordan returned to school for the start of 9th grade, his school aide noticed he'd lost weight and noted a "dramatic emotional change" from the last school year. He'd arrive at school with a urine-soaked cushion in his wheelchair. Teachers would clean it every day and send him home.
In January 2020, Jordan told his teachers he was worried about wetting in his chair; "I'm terrified if I went through and it goes on the floor, my dad will get really angry," they said Jordan told them.
Teachers kept caring for Jordan. They would brush his teeth for him. "They were often covered in a build-up. His gums would bleed," court documents said.
His team of support at the school also kept trying to help Jordan's mother, Lisa. They asked Liberty Resources to help convince Lisa Waldron to stop giving Jordan full tub baths because they were painful. She refused to switch to sponge baths, court documents said.
Then schools closed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Central New York.
In March 2020, while Jordan was home learning remotely, the Oswego County Sheriff's Office said abuse began. Jordan was sent home for school and his teaching aide had "immediate concerns" about Jordan not getting therapy services.
In April 2020, his aide said Jordan appeared thinner online.
During a school parade in May 2020, where teachers would visit students who were home learning remotely during the pandemic, many teachers noticed Jordan was wrapped completely in a blanket up to his neck. His aide noted his eyes looked droopy, one was swollen and he smelled very badly.
To his teacher's aide, Jordan seemed to be struggling immensely during those months of learning online, according to court documents. His aide documented a series of online calls where Jordan would cry with her and had a hard time holding his head up. His aide called CPS again and told them she was concerned about Jordan's body positioning, and lack of care from a doctor about his problems swallowing.
Over the summer, his aide visited Jordan at home. She said he wasn't bathed and was covered in food residue. However, Jordan told her he "liked doing school at home and hoped it continued for the next year."
When Jordan started 10th grade from home in September 2020, his aide said he continued to lose weight. She kept daily notes on his schoolwork, attendance, and conversations.
She visited Jordan in November 2020 for his birthday. His mother, Lisa, brought him outside completely covered, she said, and Jordan smelled like a strong odor, his teeth were covered in buildup.
On March 9, 2021, two months before Jordan's death, his speech therapist took a photo of Jordan and noted concern over marks on his face, dark circles under his eyes.
But CPS said, "I don't know much about Cerebral Palsy but Jordan is happy doing school at home. He has no dark circles under his eyes and the marks on his face is excema, Mom showed me the cream she uses. We will close this case very soon."
The court documents then show a series of important events days in a row.
March 10, 2021, Jordan's teaching aide says his mom was present at Jordan's online meeting for the first time in weeks, and Lisa Waldon said the IRS was giving them an extra $4,000 tax return and she wanted to go to Disney World with the money. Jodan's aide says Jordan continued to talk about food anytime they were online together.
March 11, 2021, his speech therapist says she logged on to a therapy session with Jordan in presence of a school employee after another CPS complaint. Lisa Waldron was on the call and stated to the speech therapist,"Jordan was advised by our attorney not to speak to you."
March 16, 2021: the speech therapist said there was a virtual call with Jordan's team. The Waldrons "expressed anger with me stating that I am harassing them by calling CPS, that I lost the signed medical release, and they no longer wanted me."
April 20, 2021: Jordan's teaching aide dropped off a joystick for Jordan to use, but Lisa wouldn't let her see him and said Jordan was "busy."
May 6, 2021: Three days before Jordan's death, is the last time his teaching aide says he attended school and was having severe difficulty breathing.
May 7, 2021: Lisa texted Jordan's teaching aide, and said she had to arrange a funeral for her stepmother. Lisa told her Jordan should log in by 10:15, but he never showed up.
On May 9, 2021, first responders were called to the Waldron's home where Jordan was found unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital and was pronounced dead.
The investigation into Jordan's death began and in February 2022, a medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. Lisa and Anthony Waldron were arrested on Wednesday, March 16. They were out on bail as of Friday.
CNY Central reached out to DSS, which oversees CPS in Oswego County. Commissioner Stacy Alvord released a lengthy statement that called Jordan's death "a tragedy."
Read the entire statement below:
The reported death of a 17-year-old with cerebral palsy is a tragedy and our hearts break for him and those who knew and loved him. We express our sincere condolences and join others throughout our community as we mourn the loss of this young life.
A lengthy and thorough investigation determined that this young man was not provided with the care he desperately needed and deserved. The matter is now in the hands of law enforcement and the courts. The Oswego County Department of Social Services (DSS) coordinates its efforts with law enforcement. We have faith and trust in our public safety and court systems that the justice this young man deserves will be served.
Law enforcement and criminal proceedings may ultimately provide further details of this tragedy, but DSS cannot comment on anything that could potentially impact a criminal investigation or compromise a fair trial.
Child and Family Services is one of many agencies in our community that provides services for children and youth. DSS works collaboratively with schools, health care providers, therapists, law enforcement, and many other public and private health and human service providers in our region. It takes all of us to watch out and care for the most vulnerable among us.
Family and close friends are critical to watching out for vulnerable children because they know parents intimately. We encourage those who suspect a child is in harm’s way to reach out to their parents and offer support and respite in caring for children. We also encourage those who suspect child maltreatment to call the State Central Registry at 1-800-342-3720.