Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lexington, MA former student to Speak at U.S. Senate Roll-Out of Restraint and Seclusion Prevention Bill
For Immediate Release: On Wednesday, February 12, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), will host an event to discuss the findings of a Committee investigation into the obstacles faced by parents whose children were secluded or restrained in public schools.
Featured to speak at the event will be 19-year-old former Lexington, MA student Robert Ernst, who came forward with his story of having been locked in a seclusion room at school in the wake of the New York Times article "A Terrifying Way to Discipline Students" which exposed the use of physical restraints and isolation rooms in Lexington, MA and nationwide.
“It was very scary!” said Robert at the time. “I would be left in there until I had been deemed calm enough to go back into the regular school building, and they’d just leave me in there for as long as they thought that would take.”
Following the event Sen. Harkin will reintroduce the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would curtail the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms in schools throughout the country.
While the use of seclusion and restraints are prohibited in other settings, tens of thousands of children are subjected to these practices in the classroom each school year. Many of these children are physically and emotionally harmed by the use of seclusion and restraints. This investigation documents the inability of some families to effectively address the use of seclusion and restraints practices and to positively affect change in school practices.
Senator Harkin will discuss the results of the investigation as well as his introduction of Keeping All Students Safe Act, which aims to ensure effective implementation of positive behavioral interventions in our nation’s schools.
Watch and listen to Sen. Harkin, Robert Ernst and the event live online Weds. (2/12) at 10AM Eastern at http://help.senate.gov/ and join the national discussion about restraint and seclusion in schools on Twitter before, during and after at #KeepStudentsSafe The Facebook page for Keep Students Safe is https://www.facebook.com/keepstudentssafe
Join the national campaign to Pass the Act and Keep Students Safe!
Contact: Bill Lichtenstein at Bill@LCMedia.com (917-635-2538) or Amy Peterson at LakeWriter51340@GMail.com
Members of the media interested in attending the event can RSVP to Allison Preiss at allison_preiss@help.senate.gov

Monday, February 10, 2014

Restraints, Seclusions Target Students With Autism, New Report Shows

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Every student deserves to learn and grow in a safe, supportive environment, yet each day children across the U.S. continue to be subjected to restraint and seclusion abuse. We can do more to protect our kids, and we can start by advocating for federal policy that puts an end to restraint and seclusion abuse.
As a partner organization of the Stop Hurting Kids campaign, TASH is asking you to contact your congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives with a simple message: stop hurting kids. It takes just minutes to make a difference, and you can do it right from the Stop Hurting Kids campaign website at http://stophurtingkids.com.
We’re reaching out to members of the House because HR 1893 – known as the Keeping All Students Safe Act – has already been introduced, and has a chance of being included as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. All it takes is for Congress to vote “yes” to include this amendment, and the provisions outlined in the bill will be included in the House’s version of ESEA.

What You Can Do …

Contact your member of Congress to urge them to vote yes to include the Keeping All Students Safe Act as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You can visit the Stop Hurting Kids website or send a message from the campaign’s Facebook page at http://stophurtingkids.com/fbcongress.

A sample message is included at the Stop Hurting Kids website, along with additional information about HR 1893 – the Keeping All Students Safe Act – and other resources.


Monday, May 13, 2013

National Down Syndrome Congress

Restraint/Seclusion Bill Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives Please call your Congressman!
Congressman George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education & Workforce Committee and Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) this week introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR 1893, a bill to protect all students nationwide from restraint and seclusion.
NDSC was one of the founding organizations of APRAIS, the group whose mission is to protect children from restraint, seclusion and aversives in schools, and who has worked on development of this bill for several years. 
Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to Cosponsor and Support the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR 1893. Dial 202-224-3121; ask for your Representative's Office, and then ask for the individual who deals with education issues. 
If you are unable to call and need to use email, go to http://bit.ly/RepWrit. The link to Congressman Miller's speech is here.

Tell your Congressional representative that:
  • A 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that children were injured, traumatized, and even killed through restraint and seclusion in schools. The GAO documented 20 deaths of school children.
  • The Civil Rights collection data shows that 40,000 children were physically restrained during the 2009-2010 school year.
  • Restraint and seclusion are disproportionately used upon students with disabilities and minority students.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act will protect children in the following ways:
· ban restraint/seclusion except in emergencies where someone is in danger of physical harm.

· require that parents be informed if their child was restrained/secluded on the same day that the event occurred.

· ban restraints that impede breathing, mechanical restraints, and chemical restraints.

· prevent restraint/seclusion from being used when less restrictive alternatives, like positive supports and de-escalation, would eliminate any danger.

If you have questions, please contact susan@ndsccenter.org.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


WE NEED VIRGINIA FOLKS TO CONTACT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION QUICKLY ON THE PROPOSED REGS ON AVERSIVES/PRONE RESTRAINT/SECLUSION IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS. PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR VIRGINIA AFFILIATES, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, ETC. THANKS VERY MUCH. There are two requests in here: a request to delay action on the regs, a request to amend the regs to protect students with disabilities. There is also info about a webinar by the Virginia Dept of Ed about the regulations.

Restraint, Seclusion and Use of Aversives: Proposed Virginia Regulations
The use of restraints, seclusion and aversions will be addressed in proposed Regulations Governing the Operation of Private Schools for Students with Disabilities. The Board of Education Needs to Hear From You About These Proposals.

The proposed regulations –

- Would allow the “application of aversive stimuli” such as introduction of foul or burning substances, deprivation of senses, and excessively loud sounds;      

Would allow restraints that impede breathing (prone restraint);

- Lacks clarity about when restraint and seclusion could be used which could result in their use in situations other than when there is imminent danger of physical injury and when less restrictive measures have failed or would be ineffective; and

- Would allow the use of restraint and seclusion for “severe property damage that may result in personal injury.”

The Virginia State Board of Education is planning to take final action on the proposed regulations during their May 23 meeting. The Board needs to hear from you now about these proposed regulations. The Virginia Coalition for Students with Disabilities is asking that Board action on the regulations be delayed until amendments to better serve and protect students are incorporated into the proposed regulations.

Please email the State Board of Education at BOE@doe.virginia.gov The Board needs to know that they should not delete current regulatory requirements that protect students from harmful restraints, seclusion and aversive interventions. The Board also needs to know that you believe that action should be delayed for comment.

The proposed regulations can be viewed at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2013/04_apr/agenda_items/item_f.pdf. Sections 8VAC20-671-640, 650 and 660 starting on page 127 are of particular interest.

On Monday, May 13, 9:00am the Virginia Department of Education will hold a Stakeholder Webinar on the proposed regulations for people with disabilities, parents and other advocates about the proposed regulations. You are welcome to join this webinar. Click the link below to join the webinar.   https://intercall.webex.com/intercall/j.php?ED=235701717&UID=1648188407&PW=NOGQ5MDEzYzU5&RT=MiMxMQ%3D%3D

If you are not able to join the meeting through your computer, you can call: Toll-free: 1-866-8425779, Toll number: 1-832-4453763, Conference Code: 804 225 3252

The Coalition is drafting comment on the proposed regulation which will be available early next week.

For more information, contact the Coalition at cward@endependence.org or 757-351-1585 or 866-323-1088.

Please share this information with other advocates.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

CPS removes special-ed teacher after abuse complaints from parents

A special-education teacher at Finkl Elementary School in the Little Village community has been removed from her classroom, Chicago Public Schools confirmed Tuesday — with the move coming after parents of her students complained of physical abuse against their children.
Luis Murillo said his 7-year-old autistic son had kept coming home from school with bruises on his body since early in the school year. The school told him it was from children fighting, Murillo said. The child also returned home with the knees of his pants ripped out, as if he had been pulled across the ground.
The boy cannot speak but started drawing this year, and he drew like crazy with colored markers on lined paper in a binder: Pictures of stick-figure children looking scared and sad, saying “no.” Tall stick figure women — three of them — with angry brows and giant teeth. A stick figure saying “help.”
“Every time he drew, we just thought he was drawing,” Murillo said.“He needs psychological help; not only him, but the other kids, too.”
Jessica Sanchez said her 8-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, came home with deep scratches on his face in early March, and the mark of what looked like an adult’s hand on his forearm last Thursday. An aide wrote a note that the boy scratched himself on a table, but the teacher told her the aide scratched him by accident.
Sanchezpicked him up early one day for a doctor’s appointment, and her son scurried behind her as soon as he saw her.
“He grabbed me, hid behind me and pointed at the teacher,” Sanchez said. “I was like, OK, what is the teacher doing that he’s pointing at her?”
She said she has been trying ever since to get answers from the principal, who told her he would contact the Department of Children and Family Services.
“All he said was he can’t get me any information until DCFS contacts me,” she said. He told her on Thursday that the teacher and aides had been removed from the classroom. She was at the school Monday when Chicago Police arrived.
None of the parents who contacted the Chicago Sun-Times knew who was to blame in the classroom for first-, second- and third-grade special-education students was to blame. They said the teacher had two aides working with her and the 13 children. They did not know what happened to the aides, but they didn’t want them around children.
The Sun-Times is not naming the teacher or aides because no one has been charged in connection with the matter.
CPS would not say why the teacher hadbeen removed, nor would the district confirm what, if anything, had happened with the aides.
“The teacher has been removed from the classroom and has no contact with students. Appropriate further action will be taken pending the outcome of the investigation,” CPS spokesman David Miranda said in an email.
The Department of Children and Family Services would not confirm whether they had been called. Chicago Police hadnot made any arrests as of Monday afternoon, according to spokesman John Mirabelli.
CPS would not provide further information about the teacher, including how long she has worked for the district.
On her LinkedIn profile, she wrote that she has worked for CPS since March 2012 and is a special-education teacher.
None of the phone numbers listed for the teacher was in service. A message left for her on Twitter was notreturned. A woman identifying herself as the teacher’s mother said she would relay a message, but her daughter was told not to talk to anyone.
The teacher did not call back.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Help the Ledger-Enquirer report about corporal punishment (paddling) in schools

Published: March 19, 2013

Georgia - Do you or anyone you know have a personal connection to the issue of corporal punishment (paddling) in schools?

The Muscogee County School Board is considering the interim superintendent's proposed change to the school district's policy. The change would ban corporal punishment, which is now allowed. The board is scheduled   Please click on the link below to read the complete article.http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2013/03/19/2428602/help-the-ledger-enquirer-report.html

Muscogee County School Board considers banning corporal punishment

Published: March 18, 2013 

Georgia - Corporal punishment will be banned in the Muscogee County School District if the school board approves the policy change interim superintendent John Phillips officially recommended during Monday night's meeting. Please click on the link below to read the complete article.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Please help put a stop to the overuse of restraint and seclusion.

I wanted to let you know about a new petition I just received We the People, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your name to mine to help stop restraint and seclusion used on children with disabilities in the public school system? If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by February 11, 2013, the White House will review it and respond!
We petition the Obama administration to:

Support the Keeping All Students Safe Act to end the harmful and life-threatening use of restraints and seclusion rooms.

We call on the Obama Administration to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act to end the harmful and life-threatening use by schools of restraints and seclusion rooms, and to act to ensure that our schools are safe, laws are followed, and parents are free to speak up to help their children.
Bill Lichtenstein
bill@lcmedia.com L
Cambridge, MA                 

Monday, December 10, 2012

More abuse to children with special needs in the public school system!

Santa Fe Teacher Who Dragged Blind Student Down Hallway Now On Administrative Leave

Click on the link below to view the news and school video.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Restraint and seclusion gains national media attention

Death at School: Parents Protest Dangerous Discipline for Autistic, Disabled Kids
Nightline - By (@brianross) , ANGELA M. HILL and (@mattmosk)
Nov. 29, 2012
Please click on the link below to view Nightline news video.
abc World news with Diane Sawyer - aired 11/29/2012
Death at School: Child Restraints Spark Controversy

Please click on the link to view part of the news video.

A news story about abusive restraint and seclusion practices in schools aired on Nightline, an ABC News program. During the story, the narrator pointed out that only a few states have laws that regulate the use of restraint and seclusion. The story is a potent reminder about why The Arc supports S. 2020 and HR.1381, the Keeping All Students Safe Act.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Still A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children:
The Sunday New York Times Expose One Month Later

by Bill Lichtenstein

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Elementary school faces lawsuit over padded seclusion room

Restraint and seclusion at Deer Valley elementary school


From the KGK Blog


Deer Valley faces lawsuit over its restraint and seclusion practices

Thanks to Carey Pena and Channel 3 for bringing attention to the issue of restraint and seclusion in Arizona. Hopefully this news feature will raise awareness of an otherwise hidden problem in our schools. That is what our clients in this story hope to accomplish so that other children do not have to endure what this little boy did.

This continues to be a national epidemic, but a hidden epidemic. Parents need to be vigilant to assure this is not happening to their own children. Non-verbal children are most at risk, but verbal children as well can believe that they're "bad" and that this is "ok" and they may even be afraid to tell their parents. There may be no signs or symptoms, or there may be bruises and scratches (from the restraint or from the child self-injuring while in seclusion). Note any changes in your child's usual routines and behaviors, any new founded fears, and just ask the school - ask your child's teacher, the school principal, a trusted staff of the school - if the school has a seclusion room, a room - although the school may call it a "cool down" room, or any other less punitive sounding name.

Here, Deer Valley has a restraint and seclusion policy -- on paper. It failed to abide by its own policy. Words don't mean much on paper, without the intent to actually implement the policy as written.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children

IN my public school 40 years ago, teachers didn’t lay their hands on students for bad behavior. They sent them to the principal’s office. But in today’s often overcrowded and underfunded schools, where one in eight students receive help for special learning needs, the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms has become a common way to maintain order.

It’s a dangerous development, as I know from my daughter’s experience. At the age of 5, she was kept in a seclusion room for up to an hour at a time over the course of three months, until we discovered what was happening. The trauma was severe.
According to national Department of Education data, most of the nearly 40,000 students who were restrained or isolated in seclusion rooms during the 2009-10 school year had learning, behavioral, physical or developmental needs, even though students with those issues represented just 12 percent of the student population. African-American and Hispanic students were also disproportionately isolated or restrained.
Joseph Ryan, an expert on the use of restraints who teaches at Clemson University, told me that the practice of isolating and restraining problematic children originated in schools for children with special needs. It migrated to public schools in the 1970s as federal laws mainstreamed special education students, but without the necessary oversight or staff training. “It’s a quick way to respond but it’s not effective in changing behaviors,” he said.
State laws on disciplining students vary widely, and there are no federal laws restricting these practices, although earlier this year Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote, in a federal guide for schools, that there was “no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective.” He recommended evidence-based behavioral interventions and de-escalation techniques instead.
The use of restraints and seclusion has become far more routine than it should be. “They’re the last resort too often being used as the first resort,” said Jessica Butler, a lawyer in Washington who has written about seclusion in public schools.
Among the recent instances that have attracted attention: Children in Middletown, Conn., told their parents that there was a “scream room” in their school where they could hear other children who had been locked away; last December, Sandra Baker of Harrodsburg, Ky., found her fourth-grade son, Christopher, who had misbehaved, stuffed inside a duffel bag, its drawstrings pulled tight, and left outside his classroom. He was “thrown in the hall like trash,” she told me. And in April, Corey Foster, a 16-year-old with learning disabilities, died on a school basketball court in Yonkers, N.Y., as four staff members restrained him following a confrontation during a game. The medical examiner ruled early last month that the death was from cardiac arrest resulting from the student’s having an enlarged heart, and no charges were filed.
I saw firsthand the impact of these practices six years ago when my daughter, Rose, started kindergarten in Lexington, Mass. Rose had speech and language delays. Although she sometimes became overwhelmed more quickly than other children, she was called “a model of age-appropriate behavior” by her preschool. One evaluation said Rose was “happy, loves school, is social.” She could, however, “get fidgety and restless when she is unsure as to what is expected of her. When comfortable, Rose is a very participatory and appropriate class member with a great deal to contribute to her world.”
Once in kindergarten, Rose began throwing violent tantrums at home. She repeatedly watched a scene from the film “Finding Nemo” in which a shark batters its way into a tiny room, attempting to eat the main characters. The school provided no explanation or solution. Finally, on Jan. 6, 2006, a school aide called saying that Rose had taken off her clothes. We needed to come get her.
At school, her mother and I found Rose standing alone on the cement floor of a basement mop closet, illuminated by a single light bulb. There was nothing in the closet for a child — no chair, no books, no crayons, nothing but our daughter standing naked in a pool of urine, looking frightened as she tried to cover herself with her hands. On the floor lay her favorite purple-striped Hanna Andersson outfit and panties.
Rose got dressed and we removed her from the school. We later learned that Rose had been locked in the closet five times that morning. She said that during the last confinement, she needed to use the restroom but didn’t want to wet her outfit. So she disrobed. Rather than help her, the school called us and then covered the narrow door’s small window with a file folder, on which someone had written “Don’t touch!”
We were told that Rose had been in the closet almost daily for three months, for up to an hour at a time. At first, it was for behavior issues, but later for not following directions. Once in the closet, Rose would pound on the door, or scream for help, staff members said, and once her hand was slammed in the doorjamb while being locked inside.
At the time, I notified the Lexington Public Schools, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and the Department of Mental Health about Rose and other children in her class whom school staff members indicated had been secluded. If any of these agencies conducted a formal investigation, I was not made aware of it.
Rose still has nightmares and other symptoms of severe stress. We brought an action against the Lexington Public Schools, which we settled when the school system agreed to pay for the treatment Rose needed to recover from this trauma.
The physical and psychological injuries to children as a consequence of this disciplinary system is an issue that has found its way to Congress. Legislation to ban these practices has been introduced in the House and the Senate, but no vote is expected this year.
Meanwhile, Rose is back in public school and has found it within her to forgive those involved in her case. “They weren’t bad people,” she told me. “They just didn’t know about working with children.”
Bill Lichtenstein is an investigative journalist and filmmaker.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Solitary Confinement Worsens Psychiatric Symptoms and Causes Extreme Suffering. The damaging effects of solitary confinement on juveniles whose brains are still developing can be  permanent.

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm Section=Issue_Spotlights&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=140995

Locked Away: Students Say Seclusion Doesn’t Help
08/06/2012 By Ida Lieszkovszky
Ohio students are regularly taken out of class and put into separate rooms, known as seclusion rooms.  Educators and special needs advocates alike agree that these rooms should only be used when a child is in danger of hurting themselves or others around them, but an investigation by StateImpact Ohio and The Columbus Dispatch found that schools often use these rooms as a form of discipline.
Please click on the link to read the full article.

Locked Away: How to Find Out if Your School Has Seclusion Rooms
August 5, 2012 By Molly Bloom

Locked Away: How Ohio Schools Misuse Seclusion Rooms
August 5, 2012 By Molly Bloom and Jennifer Smith Richards

Report: seclusion misused for Ohio disabled kids

Friday, August 3, 2012

Locked away: Schools use crisis rooms in non-crises

Absent policies and laws, practices vary widely on locking up kids in Ohio's schools

Beginning Sunday, The Columbus Dispatch and the public radio reporting consortium StateImpact Ohio will be telling the story of what happens in one often-unexamined corner of Ohio schools – seclusion rooms.
StateImpact Editor M.L. Schultze spoke with reporters Jennifer Smith Richards, Molly Bloom and Ida Lieszkovszky about what they found during a months-long investigation into the purposes and practices associated with the rooms.
Click on the link below to listen to the interview!

The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio stories on the use of seclusion rooms begins Sunday. You can access the investigation by going to dispatch.com or stateimpact.npr.org/Ohio.

Monday, July 16, 2012

More children are abused and another government agency does NOTHING to protect them! This kind of abuse seems to becoming normal and acceptable practice used by many school staff.

Video Claims To Show Abuse At Private Oakland School

July 5, 2012

OAKLAND (CBS 5) — A private school in Oakland that sends students to panhandling at BART stations faces abuse allegations, after video from a former student surfaces.

Former students said the long hours they spent out on the street are just part of the picture, because much more went on behind the scenes.

CBS 5 obtained cell phone video that shows a child’s head being smashed against a car window. The video appears to show a teacher at Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist School beating a student, who is also her own child.

Former student Aaliyah Carney said she shot the video three years ago. “Her head was just like going boom boom boom,” Carney told CBS 5.

Friday, June 29, 2012

City schools avoid suit, hand over ‘seclusion room’ files

The Columbus DispatchFriday June 29, 2012  
By Jennifer Smith Richards

Click on the linkbelow to read the full article.

A federal lawsuit to force Columbus schools to hand over records about its use of seclusion rooms has been dismissed because the district provided them.

The Ohio Legal Rights Service, a state agency that works to protect people with disabilities, sued Columbus City Schools in March. The agency said the district was blocking its attempt to investigate whether children had been abused in the closetlike rooms. The agency sought the names and contact information of students who had been placed in seclusion rooms and records related to incidents that occurred in the rooms dating back to Jan. 1, 2011.

The district handed over the records throughout May and June, and the agency asked U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost to dismiss the case. He did on Wednesday.

The investigation continues, said Kim McConnell, spokeswoman for the Legal Rights Service.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just released from TASH

The Cost of Waiting   

The second edition of The Cost of Waiting comes two years after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to restrict restraint and seclusion in schools. Such legislation never reached the Senate floor, and subsequent attempts have yet to yield real protections from abuse for our students. The Cost of Waiting chronicles the implications of inaction, as children across the country continue to be subjected to abusive practices that result in serious emotional trauma, physical pain and injury, and even death.

This report contains background information into the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. We have also conducted an analysis of media coverage on restraint and seclusion since the release of the first edition of The Cost of Waiting in 2011. By issuing this report, TASH hopes to continue to elevate the national dialogue on restraint and seclusion practices in schools. Please view, download and share this report.

Please click on the link below to read "The Cost of Waiting."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Police Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds? The Brutality Unleashed on Kids With Disabilities in Our School Systems

From coast to coast, the incidents are as heartbreaking as they are shocking:
  • In Brooklyn, NY, G.R., a 5-year-old autistic student, was traumatized when police were called to his school because he was having a temper tantrum. He was physically removed from the school by police, strapped to a stretcher, and when his family members tried to advocate for him, they were allegedly handcuffed. His grandmother's ribs were broken in the altercation.
  • In Albuquerque, a 7-year-old with autism was handcuffed by police officers called to restrain him. His “offenses” included calling other children names, knocking over chairs, spitting, and shooting rubber bands at a police officer.
  • Tony Smith, a disabled student suing the Atlanta Police Department and his former school district, claims he was handcuffed to a filing cabinet for seven hours when the school investigated a crime that had taken place on campus. The officers involved, his suit argues, violated department policy and his civil rights.
  • In 2010, autistic student Evelyn Towry made national headlines when she was arrested after becoming agitated because her teacher wouldn’t let her wear her favorite cow hoodie. Her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) detailing her needs and how they should be met specifically included a clause allowing the school to contact law enforcement in the event of disruptive behavior, though her parents claimed they neither saw nor approved the document.

Please click on the link below to read the full article.
Police Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds? The Brutality Unleashed on Kids With Disabilities in Our School Systems

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother says autistic son put in locked, unventilated plywood box at school

May 17, 2012 10:15 am
WAUPUN — A mother whose son was put in a box at school is demanding an apology from the school and the removal of the box.
Mandy Rennhack said her autistic son was put into a plywood 5 by 7 foot box March 27.
"The door was locked and there was no ventilation," she said. "The school said he was having a meltdown, but he wasn't. He was not following directions, and they put him in the box for discipline, not because he was a risk to himself or others."

Please click on the link below to read the full article.http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_696c98b6-a020-11e1-b95b-001a4bcf887a.html

Monday, April 23, 2012

Another Child Dies in a US School: When will the Abuse Stop!

Leake & amp; Watts boy's death: 'I can't breathe,' boy shouts after staffers piled onto him, witness says
Apr. 19, 2012 - by Will David and James O’Rourke of lohud.com
Corey Foster, a 16-year-old resident who died Wednesday night at Leake & Watts residential treatment center, went into cardiac arrest while being restrained by staff who were trying to force him off a basketball court, according to two witnesses. A half dozen staff piled onto Foster after he became angry, they said.“When they got off of him, he was on the ground and wasn’t responsive,” said Antonio Reeder, 17, a resident who said he saw the confrontation

Please click on the link below to read the full article.http://www.lohud.com/article/20120419/NEWS02/304180105/Restrained-boy-who-dies-Leake-Watts-facility-Yonkers-identified-basketball-dispute-precipitated-incident
Another tragic death of a child due to restraint. What could have been going through the minds of the people who did this, and how could they think what they were doing was ok?

                                                               Corey Foster

News from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
Another Child Dies in a US School: When will the Abuse Stop!

COPAA is outraged and horrified that another child has lost his life in school - this time because in anger ”he took a [basketball] shot that ricocheted into the head of one employee.” Like too many before him Corey Foster, a 16-year-old resident who died Wednesday night at Leake & Watts residential treatment center,went into cardiac arrest while being restrained by staff who were trying to force him off a basketball court, according to two witnesses.

Read the full story here:
Each day in the United States children are traumatized, hurt, and killed through the imposition of such restraint. This is not an isolated incident. How many times must another family lose a child; must we urge action to prevent such senseless, yet predictable, tragedies?

Federal minimum guidelines must be passed that set a bright line and a clear expectation that school personnel and administrators will ensure the safety and welfare of all students, create positive school climates, prevent the need for such physical intervention, and reduce the imposition of known deadly and traumatic responses to challenging behaviors.

Once again we ask elected officials and Secretary Duncan – just what on earth are you waiting for? Protect our children NOW.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shouldn’t School Be Safe?
It’s a simple question, yet each day, children with disabilities are at risk of restraint, seclusion and other aversive interventions that cause significant physical and emotional trauma. And while we continue to work toward federal legislation that would restrict these practices, there is something you can do to make a difference in your schools and communities. Join us for a four-part webinar series which is available for 24/7 access between April 4-May 4, 2012, and gain the tools, knowledge and resources needed to prevent and respond to restraint and seclusion, and become a powerful advocate for change!

Learn more at www.tash.org/webinar

This four-part series covers a number of important topics, each designed to equip parents, educators and advocates with the tools and know-how to put an end to restraint and seclusion in their schools and communities. Each session is available on its own or with the entire series. Read the full session descriptions at www.tash.org/webinar.

Shouldn’t School Be Safe? Preventing and Eliminating the Use of Aversives, Restraint and Seclusion | Pat Amos, a parent and an advocate for people with disabilities and their families for more than 25 years. She currently works as an Inclusion Specialist with the Youth Advocate Program’s Autism Institute.

The Business Case for Reducing Restraint and Seclusion Use | Janice Lebel, a licensed psychologist with more than 25 years experience in public mental health. She oversees Massachusetts’ $25 million system of inpatient and secure residential care for youth, and leads the Department of Mental Health’s Restraint/Seclusion Prevention Initiative.

How to Protect Students with Disabilities through Manifestation Determination | Barbara Ransom, who has more than 20 years experience as a plaintiff’s attorney in disability rights, including advocacy for students with disabilities and their rights to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

Understanding the Effects of Trauma on the Lives of those we serve: Developing Trauma Informed Systems of Care | Joan Gillece, director for the SAMHSA National Center for Trauma Informed Care, and SAMHSA Promoting Alternatives to Seclusion and Restraint through Trauma-Informed Practices. Joan has 30 years experience working in the behavioral health field. 

For those who want to do more ...

We know this is an important issue, that’s why we want to get the word out about this webinar to everyone we can. You can help. We’ve created a resource (download here) that contains a news brief (perfect for e-mails, letters and blogs), along with Facebook and Twitter messages. We’re also using the social hashtag #StopRS. Together we’ll ignite a grassroots movement to end restraint and seclusion!

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Learn more online at www.tash.org/webinar

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shocking Video of School Torturing Student With Disabilities Released

by   April 11, 2012

There are definitely ways to teach autistic children and children with disabilities that are effective and that take into account their different, individual, unique ways of being and interacting in the world. Unfortunately schools that often make the news employ “methods” that violate a child’s rights and that, sickeningly, cause physical and even psychological abuse. One such school is the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JREC) in Canton, Massachusetts, which has long been known — been notorious — for its use of electric shock to discipline students with disabilities including autism, mental retardation or emotional-behavioral issues.

On Tuesday, a stomach-turning video of a student at the JREC who was restrained and shocked for hours was played in court. Then 18-year-old Andre McCollins was a student at the JREC in 2002 when he was shocked 31 times on October 25 of that year because, as the video reveals, he refused to take off his coat. His mother, Cheryl, has filed a lawsuit.
(The video can be seen via Fox News. It is horrifying.)

A judge had ordered that the video of Andre’s ordeal be sealed eight years ago. But on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara denied requests by the JREC’s lawyers to prevent FOX Undercover’s camera from recording the video as it was played. The Boston area Fox News affiliate describes the video, which was filmed by a classroom camera at the JREC:

Andre is shown seated at a desk inside a classroom as a staff member asks him several times to remove his coat. He stays still, apparently not responding or removing his coat, until he is given a shock.

He screams and falls to the floor, yelling as he tries to hide under his desk. He was eventually restrained face-down, a helmet on his head, without breaks for food, water or the bathroom.

Cheryl McCollins testified that, on visiting Andre three days afterwards, he was “catatonic.” She had him admitted to the hospital on the same day; Andre was diagnosed with acute stress response caused by the shocks. She also described watching the video and hearing staff members laugh while Andre was on the floor.

The JREC was founded by a Harvard-trained psychologist, Matthew Israel, and has long attracted controversy, and disgust, among disability rights activists, parents and professionals. In May of 2011, Israel faced criminal charges for a 2007 incident in which two teenagers with disabilities who were residents at the JREC were wrongfully administered a number of shocks after a prank phone call by someone posing as a supervisor ordered them. As part of a deal with the Massachusetts state attorney office, Israel was ordered to step down as director of the JREC (the JREC’s website says that he announced his “retirement” on May 2, 2011) and put on probation for five years. A court-appointed monitor is to oversee JREC’s daily activities.

As Cheryl McCollins said to the jury according to Fox News, ”I never signed up for him [Andre] to be tortured, terrorized and abused. I had no idea, no idea, that they tortured the children in the school.”
My own teenage autistic son has struggled with many of the most challenging behaviors mentioned in regard to autism including self-injurious ones like head-banging. He has been doing a lot better now; the frequency of such difficult things is much decreased. There are ways to teach autistic children and children with disabilities that do not involve restraints, physical abuse or electric shock — torture — such as the JREC is charged with committing.

Footage of Judge Rotenberg Center torturing a person with a disability aired in court (Graphic)

                                            PLEASE HELP ME!         
                       NO MORE TORTURE


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Child Abuse in Florida Public Schools

Special Education teacher accused of abusing students

April 6th, 2012 by


A special education teacher at Dream Lake Elementary in Orange County, Florida, has been charged with two counts of child abuse after the principal, Gary Schadow, called police upon suspicion of misconduct. Patricia LaMantia, 56, was arrested yesterday after school officials suspected that she had harmed two severely disabled elementary students. The incidents were believed to have happened on Monday and Wednesday, involving two different children.

Apopka police interviewed the children and witnesses who said that LaMantia took one of the student’s arms and forced her to punch herself in the face until she bled. Witnesses say the alleged abuse was in response to the student hiting LaMantia in the arm. The other student was reportedly punished for using foul language and spitting on the floor. LaMantia reportedly grabbed his face and threw him backwards over a chair.

LaMantia was questioned by police but refused to answer. She is on temporary leave from her teaching position while an investigation continues. LaMantia will continue to get paid until a verdict is reached.