National Disability Rights Network Report- School Is Not Supposed to Hurt




Abbie was Restrained 14 times in one day for noncompliance issues




NAA: The Restraint and Prevention Symposium


Man Arrested For Abusing His Autistic Son


The abuse of children at the hands of school personnel has risen over the last two decades and the nation is outraged. The children most likely to be abused are children with disabilities. Children who are poor and homeless are not excluded from the abuse.

The abuse presents itself in various forms -restraints, seclusion, suffocation, and sometimes even death. Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation found hundreds of allegations that children have been abused and some have died as a result of the misuses of restraints and seclusion in public and private schools, often by untrained staff. United States representatives George Miller and Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced the "Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in School Act" (HR 4247) and senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut introduced it's sister bill, (S. 2860). This legislation is the first national effort to address the problem and ensure the safety of students and school staff.

The abuse of a child in school can easily escalate into retaliation against the parent(s), caretaker(s), or advocate. Retaliation can include the denial educational services, the denial of a child to attend school, an illegal eviction from your residence, neglect and abuse charges filed against you by the school, a loss of employment, removal of the child from the caretaker by child protective services, false charges against the parent, caregiver, or advocate that can lead to an arrest, etc.

We must stop asking, "What are they (everyone else) going to do about the abuse of our nation's children?" While the rest of America sits blind, not necessarily their fault, they are under the assumption that their tax dollars are paying for an education without abuse, restraints, seclusion, or retaliation. American citizens believe that when they send their children to school, they will be safe, not abused or killed by school personnel.

It is our belief that all children are entitled to a free, appropriate, and SAFE education in the public and private school system, as specified under IDEA. We need your support in effecting change within the system.

Thank you!

Sunday, November 7, 2010



How Far Will A School District Go To Rid Themselves of Parents That Strongly Advocate For Their Child(ren)?

They will have them falsely sent to jail and have their child(ren) taken away!!!!!

The Parents of 3 special needs children, diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS) will go to trial on February 24, 2011 at the New Bedford District Court on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

On October 17, 2008,the next day after Irwin Jacobowitz and the special education director, Linda Maniglia, of Dartmouth Public Schools had words over the district's refusal to provide appropriate transportation for his son, Arizona, he and his wife, Pearl H. Jacobowitz, a former student at The Southern New England School of Law (UMASS-Dartmouth School of Law), were arrested shortly after arriving at James M. Quinn Elementary School.

An ongoing dispute over Dartmouth's refusal to provide an experienced one-to-one aide on the school bus ride to South Coast Educational Collaborative (SCEC)in Swansea, Ma. led the parents to file complaints with the OCR in Ma. and Washington, D.C., the Bureau of Special Education Appeals(BSEA), the office of the Child Advocate, and Michelle Obama.

The parents are represented by attorneys Kristine Hammond of New Bedford, MA. and Stephen Dalrymple of North Smithfield, RI. The Bristol County District Attorneys Office is prosecuting the case. The State's witnesses are officer Sean McGuire, officer Kyle Costa, Dartmouth's Superintendant Stephen Russell, Special education director Linda Maniglia, Principal Lorraine Granda, Vice Principal Richard Porter III, and Wendy Weinfelder.

The Parents believe that the case is significant, because Parents should not be forced to restrain their child on a school bus or anywhere else if they choose not to and it is important to send amessage to schools that retaliation against parents and advocates will not be tolerated.

The trial will be held on February 17, 2011 at 9:00 A.M. in the New Bedford District Court in MA.


Connor B. v. Patrick (Massachusetts)

Citing one of the nation’s highest rates of abuse of children in foster care and other persistent and severe problems throughout the Massachusetts child welfare system, the national advocacy group Children’s Rights and Boston law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP – with the support of advocates and families throughout the state — filed a class action in federal court on April 15, 2010, seeking broad reform on behalf of 8,500 abused and neglected children statewide.

Naming six child plaintiffs who have been badly harmed in Massachusetts foster care, the lawsuit (known as Connor B. v. Patrick) charges the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) with violating the constitutional rights of children by routinely placing them in dangerous and unstable situations once removed from their parents’ care and failing to take necessary actions to meet the legal and moral obligation of the state-run child welfare system to ensure the safety and well-being of children in its custody.

According to the children’s complaint, the rate at which children in Massachusetts foster care suffer abuse in state-supervised foster homes and institutions is nearly four times the national standard. DCF further traumatizes children by moving them frequently between foster placements; one-third of children in state foster care get shuffled around to at least five different placements during their time in state custody, according to the complaint. The complaint also points to the state’s decade-long failure to adequately prepare and support families to be successfully reunified with their children in foster care.

Sam and Tony M. v. Carcieri (Rhode Island)

Children’s Rights, together with the Rhode Island Child Advocate and the law firm Weil, Gothsal & Manges LLM, filed this class action in June of 2007 to reform the long-failing child welfare system in Rhode Island. The federal complaint charges Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) with failing to ensure the safety and well-being of more than 3,000 children in state custody. Systemic problems cited in the lawsuit include:

•Children are frequently abused and neglected while in foster care. Rhode Island has been worst in the nation in its rate of maltreatment or neglect to children in foster care in five of the six years from 2000 through 2005;

•Children are placed in large, orphanage-like institutions rather than in homes with families. Over 35 percent of children in foster care in Rhode Island are placed in shelters and other group settings;

•Children languish unnecessarily in foster care for years. DCYF fails to plan for adoption when children cannot be safely returned home, and places children in group homes rather than with foster families, further reducing their chances of adoption;

•Children do not receive essential medical, dental and mental health services.

In April 2009, the federal court dismissed the case on narrow, technical grounds. Children’s Rights has appealed the decision.

Juan F. v. Rell (Connecticut)

In 1989, Children’s Rights filed a class action lawsuit to overhaul Connecticut’s child welfare system, on behalf of approximately 6,000 children in state custody and thousands more at risk of entering state custody. The federal complaint identified numerous, persistent problems within the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), including:

•Grossly inadequate child protective services. At the time of filing, reports of abuse and neglect were not investigated timely or adequately, and children were frequently left in dangerous situations;

•Failure to move children quickly into adoptive homes, resulting in children languishing for years in state custody; and

•Overburdened and untrained caseworkers. At the time of filing, staggering caseloads, inadequate training and high staff turnover made it nearly impossible for DCF caseworkers to ensure the safety and well-being of foster children.
In 1991, Children’s Rights and Connecticut officials reached a settlement agreement mandating top-to-bottom reform. Infrastructure improvements in the initial years of the reform effort included staff increases, the development of a training academy and data system improvements, but outcomes for children were slow to improve. In 2003, after DCF repeatedly failed to implement court-ordered reforms in many key areas, Children’s Rights sought to hold Defendants in contempt of court. Negotiations followed and Children’s Rights obtained an unprecedented court order in which the state voluntarily transferred management authority over the child welfare system to the federal court. In early 2004, a comprehensive exit plan of 22 “outcome measures” was developed, which details the necessary reforms and improvement benchmarks that DCF is required to meet.

Since then, DCF has made significant improvements such as (1) meeting caseload limits for caseworkers responsible for foster children and for investigating child abuse; (2) improving the speed and quality of child abuse investigations; (3) minimizing moves among foster placements; (4) preventing overcrowding in foster homes and facilities; and (5) ensuring that caseworkers visit children regularly. Upon the resignation of the DCF Court Monitor (who was given the management authority in 2003), management authority was returned to the state in the fall of 2005. Currently, DCF has met 16 of the 22 outcome measures and is close to meeting another four measures.

However, despite the progress, substantial problems remain in DCF meeting the critical outcome measures of treatment planning and meeting children’s service needs (such as basic health care needs, placing children with families rather than allowing overstays in group homes and emergency facilities, and appropriately moving children toward permanent homes and out of state custody). These two outcome measures encompass much of DCF’s core obligations to children. Thus, in May 2008, after a long period of negotiations failed to produce a new sense of urgency to address the longstanding problems, Children’s Rights triggered contempt proceedings to expedite reform in these areas.

Following months of negotiations, the parties reached a stipulated agreement, approved and ordered into effect in July 2008 by Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas, requiring DCF to take aggressive action. Under the terms of this corrective action plan, DCF now works collaboratively with a technical assistance committee of national experts to reduce its harmful over-reliance on non-family group homes and emergency facilities to house children in state custody; strengthen its efforts to recruit, retain, and support an adequate pool of foster families; take heightened action to address the unmet needs of thousands of children languishing in DCF custody; and clear its backlog of overdue health care screenings and treatment for children in foster care.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


S.3895, the Senate’s seclusion/restraint bill, “Keeping All Students Safe Act,” has one provision that has created significant controversy. It is the provision which allows districts to embed a seclusion/restraint plan in an individual student’s Individualized Education Programs [IEP], safety plan, educational plan or behavior plan.

We oppose the IEP provision. We also oppose the passage of any bill containing the IEP provision. We oppose the provision for the following reasons:

1.Seclusion and restraint are not educational practices, strategies or methodologies. At best, they are emergency interventions.

2.Seclusion and restraint plans are not behavior plans.

3.Seclusion and restraint plans are not discipline plans; they are punishment plans.

4.Placing seclusion and restraint plans into IEPs is tantamount to declaring them “programs” within the meaning of special education law.

5.As S.3895, Finding 4 states, “seclusion and physical restraint are not therapeutic.

6.As S.3895, Finding 4 also states, “[seclusion and physical restraint] are not effective means to calm or teach children and may have an opposite effect while simultaneously decreasing a child’s ability to learn.”

7.The use of seclusion and restraint as educational practices has been repudiated in therapeutic institutions including hospitals, psychiatric facilities and other residential settings for people who have challenging behaviors, even though these therapeutic institutions are staffed with medical and other highly trained professionals, and even though the physical environment itself is better suited to applying seclusion and restraint than are our nation’s schools.

8.A student’s IEP or educational plan is not a place to insert a seclusion/restraint plan that may result in serious injury or death to the student or to the school personnel who are tasked with implementing such a plan.

9.The current IEP process includes provisions designed to address student behavior challenges, including the use of functional behavior assessments [FBAs] and behavior intervention plans [BIPs]. These provisions have been in place since 1997 and were strengthened by Congress in 2004. Including seclusion/restraint plans in IEPs directly imperils all of the work that Congress, schools and parents have done to encourage the use of behavior plans.

10.IEPs are the “contract” between school districts and parents that define their child’s educational expectations.

11.Seclusion/restraint plans in IEPs, like speech therapy, physical therapy, testing accommodations, assistive technology, classroom placement, extended school year, etc., create an expectation of services to be provided.

12.With this model, districts will naturally favor the use of seclusion/restraint plan over the development of a positive behavior support plan as the preferred method for reacting to challenging behavior.

13.No effective mechanism exists for parents to challenge the inclusion of seclusion/restraint plans in a student’s individual safety plan, educational plan or behavior plan.

14.Due process mechanisms existing for IEPs are costly, cumbersome and time-consuming and produce additional stress for already stressed out students, parents and families.

15.Including seclusion/ restraint plans in IEPs will increase, rather than reduce, the use of seclusion and restraint.

16.Although parents are members of the IEP team and therefore would be able to participate in the decision whether or not to insert a seclusion/restraint program into the IEP, there is no provision explicitly requiring that parents participate as FULL MEMBERS in any group or activity creating the seclusion/ restraint plan itself. This also currently is true with respect to the conducting of FBAs as well as the development of a BIP. Parents will be asked to agree to seclusion/restraint plans that have been developed without them.

The points we list above are only a partial list of reasons why Our Children Left Behind [OCLB], self-advocates and parents oppose the inclusion of IEP seclusion/restraint plans in IEPs.

Parents also are concerned about the IEP proposal because of its evident reliance upon IDEA’s due process provisions that regulate how parents can challenge elements of an IEP. IDEA’s due process mechanism is neither fair not effective for parents. While parents are forced to pay their own legal costs for due process hearings, districts have access to insurance pools that may pay $100,000 or more per case for a districts legal fees and costs associated with the hearing. That insurance is provided to the districts for free by their insurance carriers as a value added benefit. District due process costs not covered by insurance are paid for by tax payers. Under these circumstances most parents have no reasonable possibility of challenging a district’s decision, over the parent’s objection, to insert seclusion/restraint plan into their child’s IEP.

The IEP seclusion and restraint provision has generated controversy. Some organizations have taken the position that they can support the bill even with the IEP provision intact, because the other provisions in the bill strengthen protections for students throughout the United States, including in states that currently have no laws or policies regulating the use of seclusion/restraint.

Other organizations are taking the position that the IEP provision is fatal to the bill. They cannot accept legislation that permits the planned use of seclusion /restraint by including it in IEPs and other similar plans. OCLB supports this position.

There is no doubt that seclusion /restraint are non-therapeutic interventions that create a significant likelihood that those who are being secluded or restrained – our nation’s children, often our children with significant disabilities – and those who seclude or restrain them will be hurt or killed. Seclusion/restraint are dangerous and should not be used on our nation’s children, period.

We are sensitive to the fact that S.3895 provides protection throughout the United States. If not for the IEP provision, OCLB would strongly support this bill. But for the reasons stated above, we believe the IEP provision, creates a greater likelihood that students will be injured or killed as a direct result of the inclusion of seclusion/restraint plans in IEPs.

More importantly, this provision will provide a strong legal basis to condone and in fact promote the use of dangerous practices that – according to Congress itself -- have no educational or therapeutic value. We cannot agree that the benefit of federal regulation of seclusion/ restraint in our schools outweighs the potentially fatal cost of legitimizing the use of seclusion/restraint use in our children’s IEPs.

Compromising in order to produce a bad bill that emboldens the use of seclusion and restraint – the Bird in the Hand – is not acceptable to us. There will be no time to go back and “fix things.” The damage will be done and our children will be the worse for it.

The graphic prepared by OCLB self-advocate, Michael Igafo-Te’o, summarizes our feelings in one word. “Ouch!” Seclusion and restraint never should be sanctioned as part of educational programming. As Michael, who has been secluded and restrained, clearly understands, seclusion and restraint hurts and kills children.

Tricia and Calvin Luker

Copyright 2010 by Tricia and Calvin Luker. Permission to forward, copy and post this article is granted so long as it is attributed to the authors and

The OCLB Team
Sandy Strassman-Alperstein, Deidre Hammon, Jackie Igafo-Te’o Shari Krishnan, and Calvin and Tricia Luker, along with self advocates Benji Alperstein, Daniel Alperstein, Brianna Hammon, Michael Igafo-Te’o, and Nicholas Krishnan


The New Look of Special Education

Dangerous Discrimination in the Senate: Your Students and Children are at Risk!

Please call your U.S. Senators and your favorite advocacy agencies and request that they publicly say NO to U.S. Senate Bill 3895!

Senate Bill 3895 has been cleverly marketed as the “Keeping All Students Safe Act.” Yet keeping students safe with this bill is the furthest thing from the truth, and really it is more like the “Feel Free to Single Out and Physically and Emotionally Harm Students with Disabilities Act.” Hiding these dastardly deeds under the guise of an IEPT decision is disgusting.

During the most recent reauthorization of the IDEA. school, education and some agency lobbyists seriously lost their way. It is difficult for students and families to know who our friends and foe are anymore.

Many of these students being singled out for abuse cannot speak for, or even defend, themselves!

The fact that some in the education and agency arenas are lobbying leadership to advocate for the manhandling of children in school should cause the Senate to seriously question the credibility of these supposed student advocates and education providers.

In fact, when it comes to considering Senate Bill 3895, it is easy to see who is against the safety and welfare of students. All you have to do is contact your Senators and advocacy agencies to find out where they stand on Senate Bill 3895. Anyone who supports the Bill - which singles out one population of people, based on labels or characteristics - and advocates for their physical harm is no friend of students or families.

This is clearly discrimination. And it is happening right in front of the world! Where is the outrage?

If schools, education entities and agencies can’t think of anything better to do to improve the futures of students with disabilities than to advocate for physical force and torture, then they should not receive any funding. Period.

What is the Senate thinking? And most of all, what are education entities and other agencies who work with people with disabilities doing?

Call today. And tell them, “Stop singling out and advocating for the torture of students with disabilities at school. Say, ’NO!’ to Senate Bill 3895.”
Shari Krishnan, Today's Contributor
Copyright 2010 by Shari Krishnan. Permission to forward, copy and post this article is granted so long as it is attributed to the authors and

The OCLB Team
Sandy Strassman-Alperstein, Deidre Hammon, Jackie Igafo-Te’o Shari Krishnan, and Calvin and Tricia Luker, along with self advocates Benji Alperstein, Daniel Alperstein, Brianna Hammon, Michael Igafo-Te’o, and Nicholas Krishnan


Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.


For more than a decade, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) has protected the rights of students with disabilities and demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that children with disabilities receive the same high-quality education as all children. COPAA has voiced concern over the improper use of restraints, seclusion and aversive interventions in our nation’s schools. We have reported extensively on the abuse of such interventions and been alarmed by the tragic results, including death, that have resulted from these acts. We have advocated for federal legislation to establish minimum standards for the use of physical intervention as a necessary step to ensure the safety of children in our schools.

On September 29, 2010 Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced S.3895 to address abuse through the use of restraints, seclusion and aversive interventions in schools. While COPAA sincerely appreciates the efforts of Senators Dodd and Burr, S. 3895, as currently worded, does not adequately safeguard children from abuse. In fact, and contrary to the stated objectives of the legislation, the language of S. 3895 may actually increase the misuse of restraint and unacceptable interventions in our nation’s schools and decrease parent and student rights.

COPAA cannot support the current legislation because S.3895 permits restraint and locked seclusion as planned interventions in students’ education plans, including behavior plans and Individualized Education Programs (IEP). By allowing restraint and locked seclusion as planned interventions, S.3895 weakens protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and legitimizes practices that the bill seeks to prevent. Once restraint or seclusion is included in an IEP, the practices are given the imprimatur of legitimacy simply because they were part of the IEP. Parents who wish to challenge restraint and/or seclusion in an IEP face tremendous hurdles in exercising their due process rights. There have been several recent cases, including Couture v. Board of Education of Albuquerque Public Schools, 535 F.3d 1243 (10th. Cir. 2008) a and C.N. v. Willmar Public Schools, Independent Sch. Dist. No. 347, 591 F.3d 624 (8th Cir. 2010), that vividly illustrate the legal danger inherent in explicitly failing to prohibit restraint and seclusion as a planned intervention in IEPs or in permitting them as a planned intervention.

COPAA supported H.R. 4247 and this bill’s predecessor S.2860 because they explicitly prohibited restraint and seclusion as planned interventions. We strongly encourage the Senate to reconsider the language of S.3895 to ensure that the protections sought for our school children are not compromised. A more detailed description of the concerns raised by inclusion of restraint or seclusion as planned interventions in students’ education plans, and COPAA suggestions for the pending bill, can be viewed on our website at

Denise Marshall
Executive Director
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA)
PO Box 6767
Towson, MD 21285
(P) 410-372-0208
(F) 410-372-0209

Westport Teacher Found Not Guilty of Allowing Abuse of Her Special-Needs Student

By Grant Welker
Herald News Staff Reporter Posted Sep 15, 2010 @ 10:38 PM .fb_ltr{padding-top:10px;}


A District Court jury found Westport special education teacher Renee Rego not guilty of allowing abuse of one of her students at the Macomber Primary School.

The decision, made Monday, ends a case that goes back to January 2008, when Rego and teaching aide Linda Liberty were charged with allegedly mistreating special education students. In May, Liberty was given a form of probation that would dismiss those charges if for two years she has no contact with the victim, doesn’t work in a classroom, and takes courses on how to work with autistic children.

Both teachers had their charges reduced from what was initially filed.
A month after the incidents, Rego’s original charge of permitting injury to a disabled person was changed to permitting abuse to a disabled person. Liberty, initially charged with assault and battery on a mentally handicapped person, was instead charged with simple assault and battery.

“We are very pleased with the result,” Rego’s attorney, Kenneth van Colen, said.

After the charges, Liberty was taken out of the Macomber School and moved to human relations in the district administration office. Rego remained teaching at the school.

Liberty, as part of the plea deal she agreed to in May, admitted to facts sufficient to warrant a guilty finding had the case gone to trial. If the requirements made under the plea are not met by the next scheduled hearing in May 2012, the court could go forward with a trial.

The two teachers were charged after a special-needs student’s parents and two other teachers told police that Liberty and Rego were abusive to some students. A substitute teacher in the class told police she saw “disturbing events,” including Liberty stepping on the feet of a student who kept removing his shoes because of sensory issues related to his disability.

The substitute “explained that she witnessed Ms. Liberty step on (the child’s) feet at least ‘twenty times’ during both days while she was wearing sneakers on her feet,” making the student “visibly in pain,” a police report said.

Rego told police that a way to keep the child from removing his shoes was to “go over to him and ‘tap his feet with their feet.’” The child’s mother told police that the foot tapping was inappropriate because it was not part of the student’s individual education plan. Rego was also accused of placing her fingers in a jar of peanut butter before putting them in a child’s mouth as a form of punishment because the child had eating issues.

In another incident, a paraprofessional said she saw Liberty “forcefully” grab a student by the arm as he came out of a bathroom. Liberty said the child was running so she put her arm up to stop him.

E-mail Grant Welker at

Copyright 2010 Wicked Local Somerset. Some rights reserved


Teachers and parents both put their lives on the line every day to serve this population of children. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Wait till one of them escapes and you failed to restrain them. Let's have some compassion here for the job these folks do. It is a haul every day. Some parents don't even get any sleep because the child never sleeps. Teachers are bound to a higher authority but it is a losing battle. You can only do this job for so long before it gets to you, parent or teacher. These folks deserve our respect and admiration. Every day is a new challenge and a judgment call. You do the best you can. You get up the next day and do it again and the next day again. You just put one foot in front of the other and pray each day that today isn't the day something like this happens.

i do i agree with you on some aspects of your comment coming from a mom whom has a child that is is a tough job for us parents and for the teachers..but i think that lot more educators and aids need to have little more knowledge of autism and how to work with these children do to it is very hard for everyone even the child whom sees and thinks in a different view and manner...yes ok i believe in restraining a child if need to be but when in doubt it is the time i think they need to be trained how to do it in the right way and form not by they way they think best..believe me you there is a lot of ways to restrain a child with out hurting them in anyway i do it for my son and have been trained by his behavior therapist..if the child was having sensory issues they should have done something about it by doing some sensory stuff with him instead of stepping on his feet etc. my son seeks sensory all the time and we introduce sensory input when that comes in play so he can regroup and focus again not add fuel to the fire by doing a stepping on feet to make the child more frustrated then he/she is already. children with autism have a hard time in this environment as is do to they don't know how to express their feelings and frustrations any other way besides melt downs and we have to be ok with that and redirect them or help them thru their issue. my son don't sleep we have to give him melatonin to sleep at night yes it is hard but that is the job they picked and as parents it is our job to advocate for our children..i just think more people need to be educated in all of this..when we go out to public places and our child had a melt down or is over whelmed he does stuff in weird ways to others and they just look and make comments, not knowing the whole situation. yes i give all these teachers and aides lots of credit don't get me wrong but i think they need to know little more. i deff. would not be ok with what happen if this was my child and it happened to him. there is much more i could say but i wont cuz it is too long. you are so true it is one day at a time and one foot in front of the other.

They deserve respect when they give respect to the children with these disabilities!!

WPT Townie:
If it isn't specified in a child's IEP it is not allowed. period. If parents had been reported for this DCF would be all over them!

You're exactly right, WPT Townie.

Lets get a few facts correct. First, it was not a jury trial, the decision was made by the District Court Judge. I know this because I was there for the entire trial. Second, Mrs Rego was never charged with stuffing peanut butter in a young boy's mouth, I know this because that little boy is my son. I agree that a better understanding of autism will always benefit our children. However, the accuser stated in open court that you don't need special training to work with children with with autism and admitted she never had any specialized training. At this point I have no desire to get into a 'he said-she said' debate with anyone. Mrs. Rego was found not guilty simply because there was no evidence to support the claims of the accuser. Finally, for those of you who believe an IEP can cover every scenario of a childs day you are going through life with blinders on. We have to allow for some discretion, for some common sense, and we have to trust and support the educators who are working very hard to help our children reach the highest of goals, whatever they may be ?

Monday, July 19, 2010


Call Senate: No Restraint/Seclusion in IEP; Protect IDEA Rights!

From the COPAA Discussion list:

This week, as the Senate drafts its final version of the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, S. 2860, a very dangerous provision is creeping in. The Senate would let school staff put restraint/seclusion in a child’s IEP or 504 plan. Call your Senators now and ask them to reject this proposal. See Instructions Below on How To Contact Congress.

Senators: Please Do Not Allow Restraint/Seclusion to be Added to the IEP in S.2860.

Currently, in both House and Senate bills, Sec. 5(a)(4) forbids including restraint/seclusion in an IEP as a planned intervention. The Senate should not change it. Evidence shows that when student plans contain restraint/seclusion, staff use them as a first resort, not last resort. Restraint/Seclusion provide no educational benefit; instead, they kill, injure, and traumatize. They do not belong in IEPs.

Senators: S. 2860 should require that all students receive IEPs which treat them with dignity, with positive interventions, and appropriate services. These are the techniques that prevent dangerous behavior. They help deescalate hot situations and prevent them from arising. Those in Congress who say they don’t work are wrong. 70% of the parents surveyed in Unsafe in the Schoolhouse (J. Butler, COPAA, 2009) reported that their children received only restraint and seclusion--not positive interventions. The planned Senate bill, while supporting school-wide positive interventions, wouldn’t require positive interventions in individual student plans, but it would permit restraint/seclusion instead.

Senators: The Proposed Amendment to S. 2860 Will Take Away IDEA Rights. Unlike IDEA, 504, and ADA, the Restraint/Seclusion bill has been written to prevent parents from seeking to enforce it in with lawsuits. It is like NCLB and FERPA. By adding a provision permitting restraint/seclusion in IEPs, the bill may be used to prevent parents from challenging those IEPs under the IDEA. This appears to be inadvertent, but it would have a major impact on exercising IDEA rights! The new law (S2860) would take precedence over the old law (IDEA).

Parents might be unable to invoke stay put to stop the new IEP; to demand that it not be implemented without their consent; to seek an IEE to challenge elements of it; and to go to mediation and due process to fight it. This will occur unless the Senate puts in language to protect those IDEA IEP rights.

The Senate bill would not require fully informed consent from parents before IEPs include restraint/seclusion. The amendment wouldn't require giving out a notice of procedural safeguards. The Senate bill has no requirement that the IEP team consider medical and psychological contraindications to r/s (e.g., no pressure to a child with brittle bones or chronic pain; sensory issues for children with autism; avoiding physical restraint for an abuse victim).

Putting R/S in an IEP Is NOT necessary to plan for crises. Some Senators claim that restraint/seclusion should be in an IEPs when a person is in danger of injury and the student has a history of injuring others. They may tell you this when you call them. But the current bills always allow restraint/seclusion to be used when someone is in danger of injury (Sec 5(a)(2). Adding it to the IEP isn't needed to make this effective. Nor is it needed to plan for violent students, a claim made by the amendments supporters. Students who continue to be aggressive need strong positive interventions and solid de-escalation techniques.

The bills already allow schools to undertake school-wide and other safety plans that aren't specific to an individual child (Sec. 4). These will take care of crisis planning needs (e.g. “If a teacher cannot safely move a large child into the seclusion room, Mr. X should be called.”) And certainly nothing in the bill stops staff from talking about what they would do in an emergency. Nor is the IEP IEP provision needed to simply add protections for children to IEPs (e.g., permit a nonverbal child access to assistive technology). The current bill only forbids adding restraint/seclusion as a “planned intervention.” It doesn’t prevent anyone from adding protections to an IEP.

Senators: Schools have the upper-hand in IEP negotiations; parents rarely are equals. Some Senators think that IEP meetings are even-sided negotiations and parents who oppose restraint/seclusion could simply say no. They need to hear from you about how one-sided IEP meetings are. Every person reading this has stories about how unequal IEP meetings are; the Senate needs to hear those. Even if the Senate requires informed consent, parental consent is often coerced and parents are not aware of their rights, or fully informed of the dangers.

PLEASE CALL THE SENATE NOW. If you want to impact the amendments being written, now is the time to be heard! The Senate is drafting the amendments now. The professional lobbyists for school districts are making themselves heard. Why not you?


-- Always use the bill number, S. 2860, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. Please call; Senators pay more attention to calls. Email may get lost. Use Email only if you must.

-- Dial 202-224-3121 (TTY 202-225-1904) or go to, click on Senators for contact information (including local numbers). You will have 2 Senators. When you call, ask for their Education or Disability Aide. Leave a detailed voicemail message if they are not available. Be sure to identify the bill by name, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act and use the number, S. 2860.

Please call your Senators--but especially if you live in these states on the Senate HELP Committee: AK, AZ, CO, CT, GA, IA, KS , MD, MN, NC, NH, NM, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, UT, VT, WA, WY. If you are in these states, check the HELP Committee website so you call the Senator on the Committee, If you have friends or family in the Committee states, please get them to call. And even if you are not in a Committee state, please call. Senators from all over the country are impacting this bill.

-- Call Senator Tom Harkin and ask for his disability counsel (phone 202-224-3254, fax 202-224-9369). Senator Harkn chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and has much power over this bill. He needs to hear from parents and advocates from around the country; he certainly is hearing from the other side.

Please feel free to distribute and share this alert as long as you include my signature block below in full.

Jess Butler

As the mother of a child with autism, Jess is currently Congressional Affairs Coordinator for the Autism National Committee ( which has worked to promote civil rights for people with autism for two decades. She previously was Chair of the Board of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and cochaired its Congressional Affairs efforts from 2004-09, authoring Unsafe in the Schoolhouse, Abuse of Children with Disabilities(COPAA 2009). This alert is a personal statement by Jess and reflects her views.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010



Autism is a devastating disorder that severely impacts children and their families' ability to function. Pathways Strategic Teaching Center is a school that is based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA)and teaches children ages 3-15 that have difficulty thriving or being maintained in public school settings. The children and families that we serve have been historically left behind and it is our mission to help our students meet their full potential. Pathways is family- centered, honoring the strengths of each individual. Pathways is confident in its methods and experienced staff, restraint is a last resort and seclusion rooms are nonexistent at their facility.

Our children deserve the tools necessary to see this right to fruition. There are 2 computers shared by 30 students. Children with autism, like any other child, have a potential that can be reached. The use of technology can assist the children at pathways unlock their potential- behaviorally, speech and language, etc. You can help voting. Once registered, login, and simply click the “like” button on the Pathways profile page. Every vote is important and every vote increases Pathways chances of winning the much needed $20,000. Prize. Once registered, you may vote every day, once a day, until Wednesday, July 14th.

FARS and Pathways Thank you for your anticipated participation.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Autism Insurance Reform Legislation is Moving Forward in Rhode Island!

House Bill 7260, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS, sponsored by Representatives Peter Palumbo, Eileen Naughton, Arthur Corvese, J. Russell Jackson and David Caprio would require health insurers to cover the diagnosis and medically necessary treatment of autism spectrum disorder. With fifteen states already requiring health insurers to cover medically necessary autism treatment across the country, and more than twenty currently moving forward with similar legislation, it is time for autism insurance reform to become a reality in Rhode Island.

Numerous advocates and autism organizations have worked to bring this autism insurance legislation to this point. Nevertheless, there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure the success of HB 7260. Stakeholders and legislators from all over the state remain critical to the momentum HB 7260.

Rhode Island Families Against Restraint and Seclusion showed a presence today at the hearings at the State House in Providence, along with other advocates for health bill reform- Joanne Quinn from The Autism Project, Attorney Lorri Unumb from Autism Speaks, Susan Constable, director of RIDE's R.I. Technical Assistance Project-Autism Support Center, and Nicole Katzman from the Bureau of Jewish Education of Rhode Island. Irwin Jacobowitz of RI FARS and his two children, Dakota and Montana, spoke at today's hearing in support of the bill. RI FARS is aware that children on the Autism Spectrum requires positive behavioral interventions which could be very costly for families. Families should not have to worry about the cost of positive behavioral treatments for their child. If children on the autism spectrum receive positive behavioral interventions from an early age, schools should be less inclined to use restraints and seclusion. Mr. Jacobowitz stated, "Children should no longer have to be unnecessarily restrained or placed in seclusion, because society failed to provide necessary positive behavioral interventions due to cost."


Summary of the Rhode Island Autism Insurance Reform Bill:
House Bill 7260 - Sponsored by State Representative Peter Palumbo
Would require health insurance companies to provide coverage of the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Coverage of treatments will be provided when prescribed, provided, or ordered for an individual diagnosed with autism by a licensed physician or a licensed psychologist who determines the care to be medically necessary.

Under this bill, health insurance companies would be required to provide coverage of the following:

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders - meaning medically necessary assessment, evaluations, or tests to diagnose whether an individual has one of the autism spectrum disorders;

Habilitative or rehabilitative care - meaning professional counseling, and guidance services and treatment programs, including applied behavior analysis that are necessary to develop, maintain and restore the functioning of an individual to the extent possible;

Psychiatric care;

Psychological care;

Therapeutic care - meaning services provided by licensed or certified speech, occupational, or physical therapist;

There are no age caps;

There will be no dollar, or number of visit limitations on covered treatments;

The bill does not affect any obligation to provide services to an individual under an individualized family service plan, an individualized education program (IEP), or an individualized services plan;

The bill applies only to state regulated insurance plans. It does not apply to self-funded insurance plans as these plans are regulated by the federal government under ERISA law;

If passed, this bill will apply to plans issued or renewed immediately.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Houses Approves Bill to Protect School children from Harmful Restraint and Seclusion

GAO Found Hundreds of Cases of Students Being Abused Through Inappropriate Uses of Restraint and Seclusion

March 3, 2010 4:54 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a recent government investigation that found widespread allegations that children were being abused through misuses of restraint and seclusion in classrooms, the U.S. House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation to protect children from inappropriate uses of these practices in schools. The Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 4247) passed by a vote of 262 to 153.

“It’s time to end this nightmare of abuse that has hurt too many students, classmates, families and school communities,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and original sponser of the legislation.

“This critical piece of legislation confronts the unimaginable situation in schools across the country whereby some of our nation’s most vulnerable children are treated in an inhumane and degrading manner," said U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), original sponsor of the legislation.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act would establish, for the first time, minimum federal standards to provide equal protections to all students, in every state across the country.

*It would make clear that physical restraint or locked seclusion should be used only when there is imminent danger of injury and only when imposed by trained staff.

*It would prohibit mechanical restraints, such as strapping children to chairs, misusing therapeutic equipment to punish students or duct-taping parts of their bodies and any restraint that restricts breathing.

*It would also prohibit chemical restraint, which are medications used to control behavior that are not consistent with a doctor’s prescription.

*The bill would prohibit school staff from including restraint or seclusion as planned interventions in student’s education plans, known as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

*It would also require schools to notify parents immediately after incidents when restraint or seclusion was used.

In many of the cases GAO examined, parents only learned that their child was being restrained or secluded from a whistle-blowing teacher – or when their child came home bruised.

*The legislation would also allow states the flexibility to tailor their individual laws based on their needs: It would ask states to have their own laws in place, within two years, that either meet or exceed these basic federal standards.

Full list of supporters

Read the GAO’s investigation

Learn more about the bill

Saturday, March 13, 2010


1. If a parent has a seclusion room, a Rifton chair, a body belt, or an electroshock apparatus in their home to use on his or her child when he or she "misbehaves", the parent is reported for neglect and abuse or arrested. When school personnel uses the same modes of behavioral intervention,neglect & abuse charges are rarely lodged and arrest of school personnel are rarely made.

2. Where does mandatory reporting begin and where does it end?
Agencies will quickly tell a parent that they are mandatory reporters if a parent removes their child from a school program, due to abuse, but agencies will rarely say "we are mandatory reporters and will report you...." when school personnel are involved.

3. If a seclusion room, body belt, rifton chair, or any other apparatus is portrayed as a positive behavioral intervention, then why is a seclusion room subtly called a "Quiet Room"?, why are seclusion rooms dismantled when parents find out that the room exist?, why does the name of the Rifton chair change to a "Therapeutic Device" used to introduce tabletop activities, used for feeding, and used for positioning when the child never had issues with feeding or positioning?

4. When is a child a harm to him or herself or to others?
For example, a child with autism walks out of the classroom, the teacher immediately places the student on the ground and restrains him or her for walking out of the class, who is the harm to others?

Monday, March 8, 2010



Three children remain out of school after U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zorbel in Boston denied the parents petition to assist them in getting their children back into school. The Dartmouth Public School's Special education director, Linda Maniglia, approved Arizona Jacobowitz's placement at South Coast Educational Collaborative-The Hoyle School in Swansea from Dartmouth, but refused to place an experienced aide on the school van that was familiar with children diagnosed with autism, although in the IEP. Maniglia refused to transport Arizona from Dartmouth to Swansea unless the parents agreed to restrain Arizona to his seat on the van. The parents refused to allow the van driver to restrain Arizona and appealed to the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) who ruled that the Dartmouth Public School District did not have to provide transportation or an experienced aide, regardless of the IEP, they could restrain Arizona. Dartmouth Superintendant, Stephen Russell, had the three children removed from the custody of the parents and had the parents arrested on false charges. The parents were told by Dartmouth officials that their children cost too much money to educate. It is now a major question of how three children could remain out of school more than 550 days without school officials acting, why the U.S. District Court in Boston did not assist the children safe return back to school, and who will guarantee a safe educational environment when the children return to school? The Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA), the Department of Children and Families, the Office of Civil Rights in Boston, the Child Advocate's Office in Boston, the United States District Court in Boston, and other state agencies in Massachusetts refused to assist the children in obtaining a safe and appropriate education. The children relocated to Rhode Island and their parents are awaiting a meeting with Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. When school officials decide to restrain a child rather than teach the child, or decide which student will attend school or not, what are the parent's realistic options?

For full story, see the stories page.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Drastic changes in Rhode Island School system leads to mass firing of 93 teachers and staff in Central Falls, after only 7 % of 11th graders were found proficient in math, 33 % of the high school students were proficient in writing, and 55% proficient in reading. Education commissioner Deborah A. Gist ordered Central Falls superintendant Frances Gallo to choose from 4 reform options, one was the mass firing. A few weeks ago, Gist stated, "To me, our goal is to ensure we have excellent schools for every's all about quality."

President Barack Obama mentioned the firings in national address on education and sited Central Falls as an example of the need for accountability. President Obama stated, "[I]f a school continues to fail its' students year after year, after year, if it doesn't show any sign of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability."

As Education Commissioner Gist leads the nation with her aggressive reform plan for Rhode Island, Senator George Miller (D-CA) , Senator Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA.), and Senator Chris Dodd leads the nation to provide SAFE schools for ALL children- schools without the unnecessay use of restraints, seclusion, and other abuses. Accountability will be key in the introduction of H.R.4247 "The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act."

Sunday, February 28, 2010


New Report! - Seclusion and Restraints from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO-09-719T). Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers. Testimony Before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. 05/19/09

It is essential that parents and school personnel realize that IDEA provides safeguards for these children. If a child's "behavior" gets in the way of his or her education (or that of others), certain steps must be taken in order to ensure FAPE.
"Something is Very Wrong When are Children are Unsafe at School," said
George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. On December 9, 2009, Congressman Miller and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.

Alert! New Law to Prevent Abuse in Schools.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247). This legislation is intended to protect children from the harmful use of restraint and seclusion at school. Link to this Alert:

Proposed Legislation: Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R.4247), contains a comprehensive overview of the proposed legislation (December 2009) in a new article by Jessica Butler, Esquire.

Friday, February 26, 2010



10:23 AM EDT on Saturday, June 14, 2008
By Katie Mulvaney Journal Staff Writer

NEW SHOREHAM — Room 20 in the basement of the Block Island School is small and bare. Its concrete floor is painted green, its ceiling sky blue with white clouds, its main window covered with plywood. And, until earlier this week, its knob-less door had double bolts on the outside. An anonymous letter raising questions about the room and a DVD showing it arrived at The Providence Journal, three television stations, and the attorney general’s office last week. In the brief video, a camera silently pans the room, showing the locks.


07:39 AM EDT on Monday, July 7, 2008
By Katie Mulvaney Journal Staff Writer

BLOCK ISLAND- School officials created a room in the basement of the Block Island School as a last resort for a student with mental health and behavioral problems who needed a place to calm down, according to a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
The Journal first reported on the existence of the room, which until recently could be bolted shut from the outside, after receiving an anonymous letter raising questions about whether unruly students might have been sent there. In a DVD accompanying the letter, a camera slowly pans Room 20 showing door locks, pillows and blankets in a jumble on the floor, an open utility outlet, chipped paint, and fingerprints smudging the walls. Plywood covers one window. The doorknob is missing.


09:22 AM EDT on Thursday, August 21, 2008
By Katie Mulvaney
Journal Staff Writer
Read the New Shoreham Facility Report:

BLOCK ISLAND — An isolation room set up in the basement of the Block Island School for students who needed to “chill out” violated state education regulations and the state fire code, according to a report by independent consultants.
The room violated regulations because its door had two sliding bolts on the outside, and also because staff members were unable to observe a student at all times through the small window in the door, the consultants concluded. The district should develop clear policies for dealing with students who need crisis intervention, and all staff in the 150-student school should be trained in “de-escalation strategies.”



By Will Richmond
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Jan 17, 2008 @ 08:13 PM

WESTPORT —Two Macomber Elementary School teachers have been summonsed into court to face charges they physically abused a special education student. Teacher Renee Rego, 47, of 91 Horton St., Fall River, is being charged with a single count of caretaker who permits or commits an assault and battery, and mistreatment or neglect on a disabled person. Assistant teacher Linda Liberty, 46, of 9 Sylvania St., Westport, is facing two counts of simple assault and battery on a mentally retarded child. All three charges are felonies. “My son is not returning until those teachers are removed, but I’m told they are not taking any disciplinary action” the father said. “I’m concerned for his emotional well-being in the classroom and I fear of him getting some kind of action put on him for doing something wrong. My son is autistic, he can’t come home and say ‘Daddy my teachers hurt me.’” “I feel that we’ve been left totally in the dark and ignored,” he said. “I’m chasing them (school officials) and it’s almost like from their point of view that it’s not a big thing and we should just let it go. They have no sense of urgency. ... I would expect the school to be more willing to fix this than to say there’s nothing wrong here.”


Eight states are sending autistic, mentally retarded, and emotionally troubled kids to a facility that punishes them with painful electric shocks.

How many times do you have to zap a child before it's torture?

Jennifer Gonnerman June 13, 2008 Features
The Texas Observer

The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. Yet the program continues to thrive—in large part because no one except desperate parents, and a few state legislators, seems to care about what happens to the hundreds of kids who pass through its gates. Massachusetts officials have twice tried to shut the Rotenberg Center down—once in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. Both times parents rallied to its defense, and both times it prevailed in court. The name of the center ensures nobody forgets these victories; it was Judge Ernest Rotenberg, now deceased, who in the mid-'80s ruled that the facility could continue using aversives—painful punishments designed to change behavior—so long as it obtained authorization from the Bristol County Probate and Family Court in each student's case. But even though the facility wasn't using electric shock when this ruling was handed down, the court rarely, if ever, bars the Rotenberg Center from adding shock to a student's treatment plan, according to lawyers and disability advocates who have tried to prevent it from doing so.


by Irwin and Pearl H. Jacobowitz
October 17, 2008

- A dispute between the Dartmouth Public School Department and the parents of three children with special needs over transportation resulted in the parents being arrested on false charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest by two Dartmouth Police officers and their three children being removed by the Department of Children and Families in New Bedford. Dartmouth Public Schools superintendent, Stephen Russell, the principal, Lorraine Granda, vice principal, Richard A. Porter III, and Wendy Weidenfeller all stood and watched as the police assaulted the parents and dragged them from the school. Russell issued a restraining order to keep the children out of school. Updated information (2/28/2010) the children have not been allowed to return to school; Judge Rya Zorbel of the U.S. District Court in Boston dismissed a motion to send the children back to school with the assistance of the U.S. Marshalls on February 9, 2010; the criminal case against the against the parents still lingers on after more than one year with the disappearance of videotape, limited discovery by the representing attorneys, the refusal to allow parents to represent themselves, and bias by the third district court in New Bedford.

When Does Physical Restraint Become Abuse?
August 7th, 2009

The tale of an autistic student in Massachusetts shows the issues that come with restraint practices

By Jessica Calefati | U.S. News and World Report

Most children who get hurt at school can tell their parents what happened, but what about those who cannot? Twelve-year-old Carmen Maggiore is autistic and cannot communicate verbally, so when his mother, Linda Auger, noticed deep purple bruises on her son’s arms and abrasions on his upper chest, lower back, and buttocks, she couldn’t ask him to tell her what happened. Auger, who lives in Braintree, Mass., believes her son suffered what many parents dread: abuse at the hands of his former teacher, an adult Auger trusted with Carmen’s well-being and education. The teacher has said no such abuse took place. It’s an example of the difficult circumstances that parents and schools face when trying to sort out whether abuse occurred in a classroom.

Records maintained by the South Shore Educational Collaborative, a Massachusetts day school for children with special needs that Carmen attended, show that the teacher, who could not be reached for comment, physically restrained Carmen for disciplinary reasons about once a week over a three-month period in early 2008, events Auger believes caused her son’s strange injuries. With special-needs children, restraint is sometimes acceptable, and there is a fine line between proper restraint and abuse. Restraint is a widely accepted response to an emergency situation—such as when a student threatens to run into dangerous highway traffic or expresses the intent to assault a classmate. However, some educators use such techniques regularly as a means to modify seemingly harmless student behavior, blurring the line between necessary restraint and abusive restraint. “A review of the history of [restraint and seclusion] indicates that these procedures are prone to misapplication and abuse, placing students at equal or more risk than their problem behavior,” wrote Robert Horner and George Sugai, directors of the Department of Education’s office responsible for student behavior interventions. In Carmen’s case, his former teacher and former classroom aides have divergent views about whether his teacher’s use of restraint was warranted. Mary Ericson, one of the teacher’s classroom aides, told police that in one instance, the teacher gripped Carmen’s head, lifted him off the ground, and restrained the 4-foot, 60-pound boy over a desk. Carmen’s offense, according to Ericson’s statement, was pinching the teacher after becoming frustrated by her instruction to break one of his classroom routines, a task that can be difficult for a child like Carmen, who also suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder.

Ericson and two other teacher aides reported what they say was “abuse” witnessed in Carmen’s classroom to officials at the school and the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, according to an investigative action report written by the Randolph Police Department. But when the police department represented Carmen and his classmates at a hearing last fall, the court found there was insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges against the teacher. The court cited inconsistencies in the aides’ testimony along with overwhelmingly positive testimony about the accused teacher from her colleagues at the day school, men and women who praised her both as a teacher and as a person. Concerns for her son’s safety unassuaged, Auger removed Carmen from the school, and other parents did the same. The teacher continues to work with special-needs students in Massachusetts but now teaches at the middle school level. Because Carmen and his classmates could not speak for themselves and weigh in on what took place in their classroom, their parents may never really know what happened to the students at school. Auger hopes for a law requiring schools to install surveillance cameras in all classrooms where teachers work with nonverbal autistic students, a practice that could offer some objective answers when parents ask, “What happened?” But on the state level, very few if any laws include provisions about cameras.

Auger and other opponents of restraint practices have found some support at the federal level: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is taking their concerns seriously. Late last week, Duncan followed through on a resolution he made while testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee in May to investigate school districts’ use of physical restraint techniques. He sent a letter to every state school chief asking them formally to submit their state’s policies on the use of restraint in the classroom. Committee Chairman George Miller, a Democrat representing parts of northern California, pledged legislation that would protect students from abusive restraint techniques by summer’s end, though no proposed bills have been made public yet.


Worcester Teacher Accused Of Abusing Autistic Boy
March 23rd, 2010

Reporting Beth Germano | WBZ TV

A Worcester special needs teacher is being investigated by the state Department of Children and Families after allegedly grabbing one of her students and dragging him in an incident March 1.

The four year old boy, Andrew Stanley, is autistic and now afraid to go school according to his mother Stephanie who wants the teacher fired.

“He’s regressed, he’s more leery of people, certain people,” she said.

He’s also started kicking and spitting which are behaviors he never engaged in before, she tells WBZ-TV.

Stanley says she knew something was wrong at school when the boy came home with mysterious bruises on his leg last September, and she slowly saw the changes in his behavior.”

“She dragged him across the gymnasium floor yelling and screaming at him. I don’t think she should be allowed near any children,” the mother said.

Notes from school indicate Andrew frequently cries in the classroom.

“I’ve had to take him out of class terrified. Everyday is a battle,” Stanley said.

The superintendent of schools Dr. Melinda Boone issued only a statement. “Worcester public schools takes student safety very seriously and has taken immediate and appropriate action.”

Stanley says she’s now removed her son altogether, and is requesting a new public school for him. “If you can’t deal with kids then you shouldn’t be working, especially with special needs kids. He can talk, but he can’t articulate what happened to him.”




Parents, ex-staffer say program mistreated special education students.
by Emily Groves
Norwich Bulletin


Withholding food, a “jail cell” time-out room and unnecessary restraint of special education students are among the allegations being made against Shepard Hill Elementary School’s Clinical Day Treatment Program by paraprofessionals, parents and a Board of Education member.

“It’s an ugly mess,” Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Angela Klonoski said. “It’s just been a nightmare.”

The Shepard Hill program is one of five in the district for children with emotional or intellectual disabilities, Plainfield Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway said.

Philip LaFemina, coordinator for the programs, said the Shepard Hill program includes eight students who spend most of their day with the program. It also provides support services for another five to six students who spend most of their day in regular classrooms. He said eight full and part-time paraprofessionals work in the program, though other paraprofessionals assist when students are immersed into classrooms.

To read full story click on link: cell">




Published: Sunday, May 24, 2009


EAST GOSHEN — Parents at East Goshen Elementary School in West Chester,PA say they are outraged that special-needs children were being put into small rooms without their knowledge. The parents have referred to these places as seclusion rooms but West Chester Area School District officials have called them quiet rooms. "Seclusion means that the children were left in the room on their own without a teacher or adult," said Communications Director Rob Partridge. "The children were never put in the rooms by themselves." But parents say the issue is that they were unaware of the rooms until earlier this month. The two rooms are in a part of the special-education area of the school used for autism support programs. Parents said they were given a tour of the rooms during the meeting. They described the rooms as being the size of a closet with cement walls. They said the rooms were not ventilated. Partridge said, "In every case, when rooms were needed for individual student needs, parents were contacted and kept fully informed." Jane Thurston, coordinator of the Chester County Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Group: "It's unbelievable that in 2009 they (administrators) think this is appropriate.""What they (West Chester Area officials) don't realize is these rooms are a failure of the school district." Thurston said these rooms can be effective if they are used appropriately. She said proper uses of rooms include sensory toys, padded walls and the presence of a behavioral support specialist. The hard floors and unpadded walls in the rooms at East Goshen Elementary could have been a death hazard for the students. "In a very informal way, the people from the state conducting the review indicated they were OK with the rooms as they saw them," Partridge said.


Monday, February 8, 2010
By Danielle Lynch, Journal Register News Service

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee recently passed a bill that will require stricter regulations for restraint and "seclusion rooms" in public schools.

The bill, known as the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, was passed by the committee in a 34-10 vote on Thursday. The bill prohibits the use of life-threatening restraints in schools and establishes clear standards for training teachers. At the local level, there was controversy regarding these rooms at East Goshen Elementary School in the West Chester Area School District. In May 2009, parents were outraged and upset that these rooms were installed without their knowledge. U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-7th, of Edgmont, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the new bill does not allow IEPs to include the methods anymore. He said restraint and seclusion can only be used if the child or teacher is in imminent danger. "You have to notify parents right after these incidents," Sestak said. Efforts to improve the law at the federal level were led by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th, of West Whiteland, introduced legislation regarding seclusion rooms following the controversy at East Goshen Elementary. A few weeks later, the state Senate Education Committee passed the bill.


"When the Parents advocated for their son, Arizona, the West Chester Area School District had the dad thrown in prison for 10 days with the help of a local judge."

Arizona was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 years old. He was denied admission to the Delaware Autism Program at age 3. From 4-7 years old, Arizona was enrolled with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. The CCIU refused to provide behavioral interventions and an aide for Arizona claiming that it cost too much money. Unknown to the parents, Arizona's teachers were restraining him in a Rifton chair. When Arizona attended East Bradford Elementary School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, his teacher, Padgett Kissler Smith, continued to restrain Arizona in a Rifton Chair for 2-3 hours each day without the parents' knowledge or consent. Arizona's parents found out that Arizona was being restrained when Smith mistakenly sent home pictures of Arizona in the chair and Arizona repeatedly said, "broken, broken." Smith stated, "We put him in the chair and he broke our chair, what are you going to do about it?"

To read the full story go to Stories pages.
This story first appeared on Sen. James Buckheit's (PA.) website during August, 2007.

February 28, 2010
by Irwin and Pearl H. Jacobowitz



By Donna C. Gregory NEWS EDITOR

Priscilla and Chip Greene share some family time with their three sons (from left), Travis, 6, Coleman, 9, and Parker, 11.

December 19, 2007 - A Clover Hill Elementary second-grader is getting a longer than normal holiday break after his parents withdrew him from school amid claims of physical abuse. Chip and Priscilla Greene have removed their son, Coleman, from Clover Hill following a series of incidents where he was allegedly physically restrained by a special education aide. The situation escalated on Nov. 30 when the Greenes received a call from school, asking them to come pick up Coleman, who suffers from Down's Syndrome and ADHD. When Chip Greene arrived at school, a staff member who the family chose not to identify, advised him to check Coleman for bruises. A physician later confirmed bruising on Coleman's back, shoulder and chest and a scratch on his neck. Coleman has not been back to school since.

Thursday, February 25, 2010



" Imagine advocating for an appropriate education for your children and instead of an education, you receive prison time"

Imagine traveling from state to state in a desperate effort to provide your child with an appropriate education. Now, imagine school officials not believing that your child is entitled to an appropriate education for whatever reason- they believe that you're a bitch, they dispise children with special needs, your child is not worth the expense, it cost too much to educate your child, people of your color or race do not deserve an education, or you simply advocate for your child. However, let's imagine a little further, what if, school officials took it further and acted on their belief?

The Jacobowitz family has experienced level IV retaliation across three states- DELAWARE, PENNSYLVANIA, and MASSACHUSETTS. This domino effect of retaliation has led to their three children- DAKOTA, ARIZONA, and MONTANA being put out of school by school officials by illegal means. In each situation the school district enlisted the assistance of the Department of Children in Families, the police, the code enforcement officer, or another state or federal agency or individual(s). The last wave of retaliation led to the children being out of school since October 17, 2008, the parents being arrested, DCF removal of the children, and a case being filed in the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts.

The story will appear in Steetsights newspaper, March, 2010 issue- Opinions: "Against the Abuse of Children" and on their website at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010



January 25th, 2009 On, an interview by Jeffrey S. Solochek of the St. Petersburg Times with Phyllis Musumeci, founder of Florida Families against Restraint and Seclusion. Musumeci, who lives in Palm Beach, says her son was restrained and placed in seclusion in school at least 89 times over a period of 14 months without her knowledge.

Musumeci, above with Sen. Chris Dodd, recently went to Washington for the release of a report by the National Disability Rights Network documenting the widespread use of restraints and seclusion in schools across the country. She is calling for a prohibition on the use of prone restraints in schools. An excerpt:

We have positive behavior programs that are supposed to be the way to go for our kids. It’s scientifically proved that positive behavior works as opposed to methods like restraint and seclusion. Restraint and seclusion is traumatizing our children. They must have seen what this was doing to my child, and yet they continued doing it to him. And I hear the same story from other parents.
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