Friday, February 26, 2010
BLOCK ISLAND OFFICIALS DEFEND ROOM IN SCHOOL BASEMENT
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.
QUESTIONS LINGER OVER SCHOOL'S ROOM
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.
ISOLATION ROOM DEEMED TO VIOLATE SCHOOL, FIRE RULES
09:22 AM EDT on Thursday, August 21, 2008
By Katie Mulvaney
Journal Staff Writer
Read the New Shoreham Facility Report: http://www.projo.com/news/2008/pdf/new_shoreham_school_facility_report.pdf
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.”
TWO TEACHERS CHARGED WITH ABUSING STUDENT
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.”
SCHOOL OF SHOCK
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.
DARTMOUTH PUBLIC SCHOOL REFUSED TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION FOR STUDENT WITH AUTISM UNLESS HE WAS RESTRAINED ON THE SCHOOL BUS AND HAD PARENTS FALSELY ARRESTED
by Irwin and Pearl H. Jacobowitz
October 17, 2008
DARTMOUTH -JAMES M. QUINN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL- 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.”
PLAINFIELD SCHOOL ACCUSED OF DENYING FOOD TO STUDENTS AND USING A 'JAIL CELL'.
Parents, ex-staffer say program mistreated special education students.
by Emily Groves
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">http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/x324650860/Plainfield-school-accused-of-food-denial-using-jail-cell
A 'QUIET ROOM' UPROAR
Published: Sunday, May 24, 2009
By DANIELLE LYNCH, Staff Writer
INSIDE THE SECLUSION ROOM IN THE K-1 AUTISTIC SUPPORT ROOM
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.
BILL REQUIRES STRICTER REGULATIONS OF 'SECLUSION' ROOMS
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.
THE ONLY BEHAVIORAL SUPPORT THE WESTCHESTER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT PROVIDED FOR 10 YEAR OLD ARIZONA WAS A SEAT IN THE RIFTON CHAIR USING THE TABLE TOP AS A RESTRAINT
"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
THIS ABUSE MUST STOP!"
PARENTS PULL SON FROM SCHOOL OVER RESTRAINT ISSUE
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.