Monday, May 13, 2013
- A 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that children were injured, traumatized, and even killed through restraint and seclusion in schools. The GAO documented 20 deaths of school children.
- The Civil Rights collection data shows that 40,000 children were physically restrained during the 2009-2010 school year.
- Restraint and seclusion are disproportionately used upon students with disabilities and minority students.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
HB 291 - Use, Prevention, & Reduction of Seclusion & Restraint on Students with Disabilities in Public Schools
In school year 2010/11 in Broward there were 459 restraint incidents reported, and 237 in 2011/12. There were 86 seclusion's in 2010/11 and 93 in 2011/12.
Broward does better than most. In 2010/11 Orange lead the State in restraint with 2,350 incidents, 29% of the 10,500 Statewide.
9 Florida Districts use mechanical restraint, here Orange County demonstrates theirs:
21 Florida Districts had increases in the numbers of restraints from 2010/11 to 2011/12.
There is no reason for these numbers to be so high. Several States and a few Florida Districts have policy restricting restraint to only emergencies and have banned seclusion, which is solitary confinement in a cell. They have had very few problems and none have gone back to their previous barbaric policies.
Call your State Representative, call all of the Broward Representatives. E-mail them and stop by their offices and talk to their staff about reducing the medieval practice on our children. Find them here:
Ask them to please co-sponsor HB291 sponsored by Representative Katie Edwards:
HB 291 - Use, Prevention, & Reduction of Seclusion & Restraint on Students with Disabilities in Public Schools
General Bill by Edwards
Use, Prevention, & Reduction of Seclusion & Restraint on Students with Disabilities in Public Schools: Requires that manual physical restraint be used on student with disability only in emergency when there is imminent risk of serious injury or death to student or others; requires that school provide medical evaluation after student is manually physically restrained; prohibits school personnel from placing student in seclusion; requires that school personnel be trained & certified in use of manual physical restraint; requires that school district develop policies relating to use of restraint
Effective Date: July 1, 2013
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Why do school districts continue to restrain and put children with disabilities in solitary confinement?
I will try to Forgive, but I will never Forget
Children should never be afraid to go to school, and parents should never have to worry that their children will be harmed by the people taking care of them while they are at school.
Forgiveness isn’t possible when negative emotions stick around and cloud my thoughts about restraint and seclusion. I am trying to forgive, but I will never forget.
Forgiveness can’t be doled out quickly when constant reminders of an offense that happened to my child while in the public school system surrounds me.
As many times as I’ve thought about how to come to terms with the violence my son was subjected to, finding forgiveness hasn’t been one of those things on my list of things to do.
To forgive and let all the pain of what my child and our family went through wash away—the guilt, the pain, the anxiety, the despair seems so difficult to do.
Can I really do that?
Can I truly forget how my son’s downward spiral of regression, depression, anxiety attacks began? He was so little, so innocent and just didn’t know how to cope with everything around him.
Can I honestly forgive the people who abused my child by restraining him over and over and by putting him in seclusion because they didn’t try to understand him, because they didn’t try to understand his disability?
Can I totally forgive the people who turned me away when I asked them to get my son some help?
Can I totally look past their denial of what they did to my son and the retaliation and pain we are still going through today?
Can I forgive myself for overlooking the signs that my son was showing me that “something was wrong”, but I wasn’t seeing because I thought he was in good hands? If I can’t forgive myself then how can I ever forgive you?
Can I fully embrace the struggles we have gone through to find justice for the violence my son was subjected to at the hands of others?
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I ask myself why I didn’t listen to my son when he told me, “No school Mommy, no like.” He used to love going to school. What happened to make him so fearful of school?
Here’s what I can accept. I can accept that all of that did happen to my child, but I will not accept that it had to happen because I know for a fact it did not have to happen.
Here’s something else I haven’t been able to accept. Not because I turned it down but because this too hasn’t happened yet—no one has yet to apologize to my son for what they did to him. Instead I have heard nothing but excuses of why he was treated with such violence and that they felt they did what had to be done. Do you even remember my son? I’m sure you have moved on with your life and long forgotten my little boy.
What I can’t accept is how these same people continue to destroy him by using unprofessional evaluations that make him look bad so that they can justify what they did to him as being the right thing to do.
Come to think of it, I think my whole family could use an apology. Shouldn’t someone have said sorry to me and my husband for the extra stress they have caused us, the time lost with our son and the things we’ve been denied as our child’s parents?
When are those apologies coming? I’m not saying I’m holding out for those before I can forgive and forget, but it sure would be nice for someone to admit that they played a role in my son’s regression, depression, and anxiety attacks that developed from all the restraint and seclusion abuse he went through at the hands of people who were supposed to be helping him?
Forgive and forget. As much as I’d love to, oh how I’d really love to be able to say to several of my son’s past school staff, “I forgive you,” but right now, today, this week with what he went through and what we’ve gone through as a family, I’m just not ready to say, “I forgive you.” In fact, it might be a long time before I am ready to forgive and move on.
To offer forgiveness, if I really, really had to do that today would be a bit jaded. It would go something like this:
Dear Teacher, Teachers Aide, Principal and Behavior Specialist (and whoever else had a hand in destroying my child’s life),
I know you are all just human, and you thought the violence you subjected my son and other children to was the right thing to do. I understand that some of you have more professional training under your belt and loads more formal education than I do. I understand that you have a hard job. I have a feeling though that your lack of training of my son’s disability, your refusal to help and understand him when I pleaded with you, your power struggle with my son over his behaviors that were not in his control, and your pride muddled your thoughts. How else did you let what happen to my son happen? How could you keep restraining him and putting him into seclusion when it was obvious that it was making him worse? And how did you not see that these violent acts were starting to affect him mentally and were causing him to regress in his academics and social skills? You had to see he was in mental pain, and yet you continued to restrain him and put him in seclusion. Why? Please tell me why so I can try and understand, and if I can understand maybe I can find it in my heart to forgive you and move on.
I totally get that you’re super busy and that you have a lot of children with behavior issues, but that does not make what you did to my son or other children right. That does not make what you are still doing to children with disabilities right. Don’t you understand that behaviors are a form of communication for our children who are nonverbal or who can’t express themselves? Don’t you understand even now that restraint and seclusion doesn’t help children with disabilities and that it can cause long lasting trauma and escalate behaviors. Clearly you must have been overwhelmed and understaffed. What other excuse could you give for watching my son go through such mental torment and regression?
I’ve waited a long time to figure out if I need to forgive you, but I’m honestly at a standstill even thinking about it. I really don’t know how to say this, but I do think it’s time for me to say something. So, here goes.
I’m sorry you didn’t open your eyes to see the red flags being waved right in front of your face that my son was suffering mentally from your actions and was regressing at a fast pace. I’m sorry you were clueless and that your ignorance failed my child. I’m sorry your educational knowledge of children with disabilities failed my son. I’m sorry you never knew that behaviors are a form of communication. I’m sorry you refused to update his functional behavior plan. I’m sorry you were ignorant of my requests to get him help. I’m sorry you bullied me at several IEP meetings and made me cry. I’m sorry you wasted my time telling me, ‘He did this and he did that but you never told me what you were doing to him.’ I’m sorry I waited until my son had a breakdown before I pulled him out of school. I’m sorry you’re still doing the same thing to other children as you did to my son and that you are still bullying parents. I’m sorry you haven’t learned a thing from your past violent actions.
No parent should feel as alone, scared, worried, angry and as destroyed as I felt the day I picked up my son from school as he cried hysterically begging me to take him home. No parent should witness what happened to their child like I did. No one should witness that and later be told, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
No parent should walk through life not knowing what to do next or not knowing where to turn for help. No parent should have to face the agonizing decisions I’ve had to. No parent should have to fight as hard as scores of parents now have to do to keep their children safe when they go to school. No parent should be left high and dry with nowhere to turn for help like so many other parents have. No parent should expect or demand an apology from someone who promised to do no harm in the first place. None.
One more thing. When one forgives his offender the last part of the apology usually includes not only a renewal for the relationship to be whole again, but also a promise, a promise to never commit the offense again. See, that’s a problem. Not on my end but for your apology, when you make it….it won’t be a true apology if you are still doing to children what you did to my son. You still don’t see the big picture and that what you’re doing to children with disabilities is physically and mentally harmful.
You can’t help make this all go away until you take a step back. Take a step back and look at the children with disabilities as children who need help with the behaviors that are not in their control because right now you are only looking at them as unruly children. They are not unruly; they are children with disabilities that have a tough road ahead of them! When you stop and realize how you played a role in damaging my son’s future, and after you rectify what you are doing is wrong, then we can talk about forgiveness.
It’s with a heavy heart that I apologize that I cannot truly offer any forgiveness to you. I pray to God that I can because it’s nearly impossible for me to stop thinking about how my son and countless other children ended up where they are today. Someday I hope to have the strength to completely move past the pain and sadness you brought to my child and my family. One day I’ll be able to find forgiveness. Until then I’ll be here waiting for you to offer yours.
Please HELP me!
STOP Restraint and Seclusion
Inspired by “Forgive or Forget” from Age of Autism
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Saturday, September 8, 2012
A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children
Published: September 8, 2012 By BILL LICHTENSTEIN
Monday, August 27, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
08/16/2012 By John O'Connor
Please click on the link below to read the full article and view the restraint and seclusion numbers for 2011 and 2012 for the state of Florida. (Not all districts have turned in R & S numbers to the FLDOE)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Apr. 19, 2012 - by Will David and James O’Rourke of lohud.com
Corey Foster, a 16-year-old resident who died Wednesday night at Leake & Watts residential treatment center, went into cardiac arrest while being restrained by staff who were trying to force him off a basketball court, according to two witnesses.
A half dozen staff piled onto Foster after he became angry, they said.“When they got off of him, he was on the ground and wasn’t responsive,” said Antonio Reeder, 17, a resident who said he saw the confrontation
Please click on the link below to read the full article.http://www.lohud.com/article/20120419/NEWS02/304180105/Restrained-boy-who-dies-Leake-Watts-facility-Yonkers-identified-basketball-dispute-precipitated-incident
Another tragic death of a child due to restraint. What could have been going through the minds of the people who did this, and how could they think what they were doing was ok?
Federal minimum guidelines must be passed that set a bright line and a clear expectation that school personnel and administrators will ensure the safety and welfare of all students, create positive school climates, prevent the need for such physical intervention, and reduce the imposition of known deadly and traumatic responses to challenging behaviors.
Once again we ask elected officials and Secretary Duncan – just what on earth are you waiting for? Protect our children NOW.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Shouldn’t School Be Safe?
It’s a simple question, yet each day, children with disabilities are at risk of restraint, seclusion and other aversive interventions that cause significant physical and emotional trauma. And while we continue to work toward federal legislation that would restrict these practices, there is something you can do to make a difference in your schools and communities. Join us for a four-part webinar series which is available for 24/7 access between April 4-May 4, 2012, and gain the tools, knowledge and resources needed to prevent and respond to restraint and seclusion, and become a powerful advocate for change!
Learn more at www.tash.org/webinar
This four-part series covers a number of important topics, each designed to equip parents, educators and advocates with the tools and know-how to put an end to restraint and seclusion in their schools and communities. Each session is available on its own or with the entire series. Read the full session descriptions at www.tash.org/webinar.
Shouldn’t School Be Safe? Preventing and Eliminating the Use of Aversives, Restraint and Seclusion | Pat Amos, a parent and an advocate for people with disabilities and their families for more than 25 years. She currently works as an Inclusion Specialist with the Youth Advocate Program’s Autism Institute.
The Business Case for Reducing Restraint and Seclusion Use | Janice Lebel, a licensed psychologist with more than 25 years experience in public mental health. She oversees Massachusetts’ $25 million system of inpatient and secure residential care for youth, and leads the Department of Mental Health’s Restraint/Seclusion Prevention Initiative.
How to Protect Students with Disabilities through Manifestation Determination | Barbara Ransom, who has more than 20 years experience as a plaintiff’s attorney in disability rights, including advocacy for students with disabilities and their rights to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
Understanding the Effects of Trauma on the Lives of those we serve: Developing Trauma Informed Systems of Care | Joan Gillece, director for the SAMHSA National Center for Trauma Informed Care, and SAMHSA Promoting Alternatives to Seclusion and Restraint through Trauma-Informed Practices. Joan has 30 years experience working in the behavioral health field.
For those who want to do more ...
We know this is an important issue, that’s why we want to get the word out about this webinar to everyone we can. You can help. We’ve created a resource (download here) that contains a news brief (perfect for e-mails, letters and blogs), along with Facebook and Twitter messages. We’re also using the social hashtag #StopRS. Together we’ll ignite a grassroots movement to end restraint and seclusion!
"Like" us on Facebook
Follow @TASHtweet on Twitter
Learn more online at www.tash.org/webinar
Thursday, April 12, 2012
by Kristina Chew April 11, 2012
There are definitely ways to teach autistic children and children with disabilities that are effective and that take into account their different, individual, unique ways of being and interacting in the world. Unfortunately schools that often make the news employ “methods” that violate a child’s rights and that, sickeningly, cause physical and even psychological abuse. One such school is the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JREC) in Canton, Massachusetts, which has long been known — been notorious — for its use of electric shock to discipline students with disabilities including autism, mental retardation or emotional-
A judge had ordered that the video of Andre’s ordeal be sealed eight years ago. But on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara denied requests by the JREC’s lawyers to prevent FOX Undercover’s camera from recording the video as it was played. The Boston area Fox News affiliate describes the video, which was filmed by a classroom camera at the JREC:
The JREC was founded by a Harvard-trained psychologist, Matthew Israel, and has long attracted controversy, and disgust, among disability rights activists, parents and professionals. In May of 2011, Israel faced criminal charges for a 2007 incident in which two teenagers with disabilities who were residents at the JREC were wrongfully administered a number of shocks after a prank phone call by someone posing as a supervisor ordered them. As part of a deal with the Massachusetts state attorney office, Israel was ordered to step down as director of the JREC (the JREC’s website says that he announced his “retirement” on May 2, 2011) and put on probation for five years. A court-appointed monitor is to oversee JREC’s daily activities.
As Cheryl McCollins said to the jury according to Fox News, ”I never signed up for him [Andre] to be tortured, terrorized and abused. I had no idea, no idea, that they tortured the children in the school.”
My own teenage autistic son has struggled with many of the most challenging behaviors mentioned in regard to autism including self-injurious ones like head-banging. He has been doing a lot better now; the frequency of such difficult things is much decreased. There are ways to teach autistic children and children with disabilities that do not involve restraints, physical abuse or electric shock — torture — such as the JREC is charged with committing.
Footage of Judge Rotenberg Center torturing a person with a disability aired in court (Graphic)
PLEASE HELP ME!
Friday, April 6, 2012
Florida Special Education teacher accused of abusing students
A special education teacher at Dream Lake Elementary in Orange County, Florida, has been charged with two counts of child abuse after the principal, Gary Schadow, called police upon suspicion of misconduct. Patricia LaMantia, 56, was arrested yesterday after school officials suspected that she had harmed two severely disabled elementary students. The incidents were believed to have happened on Monday and Wednesday, involving two different children.
Apopka police interviewed the children and witnesses who said that LaMantia took one of the student’s arms and forced her to punch herself in the face until she bled. Witnesses say the alleged abuse was in response to the student hiting LaMantia in the arm. The other student was reportedly punished for using foul language and spitting on the floor. LaMantia reportedly grabbed his face and threw him backwards over a chair.
LaMantia was questioned by police but refused to answer. She is on temporary leave from her teaching position while an investigation continues. LaMantia will continue to get paid until a verdict is reached.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
March 15, 2012
A young adult with disabilities who survived restraint and seclusion in an Ohio public school described her experiences to the Ohio State Board of Education, and asked that immediate action be taken to protect children. Representatives of the Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) supported her as she spoke to the board at the March 2012 meeting.
The young woman described how she had loved school, was an excellent student and a star athlete and had many friends until her family moved one school district away. Then everything changed.
At her new school she was belittled, intimidated and abused by teachers and administrators. She told of being locked in a windowless concrete basement closet. She was denied access to school work, and allowed out of the room only three times a day for bathroom breaks. She spent many consecutive days in this room. She told of being pulled into an administrator's office during lunch period and denied anything to eat or drink. She gave many examples of abuse and neglect at the hands of school personnel.
This young woman described how school administrators tried to paint her as a bad kid so no one would believe her. She noted her belief that the school retaliated against her because her parent worked hard to advocate for her, and made complaints to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
She reported that the ODE representative told school administrators that they must stop putting her in the locked seclusion room. The next week, an administrator again ordered her to the locked room. She reminded him that the ODE representative said this should stop, and she tried to return to class. She was physically abused and emotionally traumatized over several hours. That was her last day of school.
The young woman told members of the Board of Education that she had been 15 years old, in the 10th grade, afraid she was going to die and told by school administrators that she had no future.
She now lives with post traumatic stress disorder and social phobias. Despite how hard it is to be in the public eye, and knowing the reality of retaliation, this young woman provided testimony because she does not want more children to be hurt and their dreams for bright futures crushed. She asked members of the Board of Education how a child with disabilities can go to one school district and thrive and be happy and successful, then move to another and have exactly the opposite experience. She asked why the Board allows schools to restrain and seclude students. She asked, if she had died in school, would there be a law named for her, like New York's Jonathon's Law, after that thirteen-year-old child was killed by a direct caregiver. She asked if the death of a child in restraint or seclusion in school is what it will take for the Board to act.
This young woman reminded Board members that restraint and seclusion cause injuries or worse, and that children are scarred emotionally by their use. She reminded the Board that there is nothing educational or therapeutic about using restraint and seclusion on children in schools.
She also asked what is stopping the Board from requiring ODE to put an effective rule in place. She asked why would the Board or ODE object to clear definitions of restraint and seclusion and require that they be used only in an emergency when a student is an immediate danger to self or others. She asked why would the Board object to requiring that any school personnel who restrains or secludes a student have prior training in accepted techniques that are not likely to cause injury or trauma. And what objections could there be for schools to provide students with disabilities with positive behavior interventions, and require educators to be trained to use these interventions and engage students in individualized plans? She asked why would anybody not want all use of restraint or seclusion to be reported to parents and ODE, and for ODE to provide public reports.
She stated that regulations are needed, and that she and others with similar experiences know what good rules should include.
The young woman summed up her experience by saying that her future was stolen from her. Addressing the Board, she said, "You are responsible for the safety of children in Ohio schools. Please protect them now. You failed to protect me."
Her testimony resulted in praise for her courage in coming before the Board, and also some apologies from Board members for the cruel treatment she endured. The State Board assured her that they would take action to ensure that other children are protected from the kind of abuse she experienced.
The Board asked ODE for a response. ODE staff reported the Department is working internally on drafting policies for restraint and seclusion for Ohio public schools and suggested a three-year timeline. LRS responded that policies will not provide accountability and that rules must be put in place. LRS noted that students will continue to be abused in districts large and small across the state while waiting for ODE to act to keep students safe, and regulate the use of restraint and seclusion.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
COPAA Continues Work to Raise the Bar of Protection
December 16, 2011
We are pleased to announce the introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the Senate by Chairman Tom Harkin this afternoon. We sincerely thank Chairman Harkin for his unwavering commitment to the safety and welfare of our nation’s children. This bill would promote the development of effective intervention and prevention practices that do not impose restraints and seclusion; protect all students from physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety, and any restraint imposed for purposes of coercion, discipline or convenience, or as a substitute for appropriate educational or positive behavioral interventions and supports. Importantly the bill also works to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel and promote positive school culture and climate.
For years, schools’ use of restraint, seclusion, and aversive interventions was unpublicized and little-known, despite their widespread use. However, recent reports by COPAA and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), and Congressional testimony of the U.S. General Accounting Office have served to shine a spotlight on these abusive practices. See e.g., Unsafe in the Schoolhouse: Abuse of Children with Disabilities, COPAA (Jessica Butler, 2009); School is Not Supposed to Hurt: Investigative Report on Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools, NDRN (2009); Seclusions and Restraints: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers (GAO-09-719T). This bill recognizes that “physical restraint and seclusion have resulted in physical injury, psychological trauma, and death to children in public and private schools,” as described in these reports. Existing laws alone have not protected students against such abuse and injury, though many do offer important protections. The bill, therefore, includes a critically important savings clause that preserves existing additional rights under state and federal law.
COPAA is a national organization of parents, advocates and attorneys dedicated to protecting the civil and educational rights of children with disabilities, whose members represent families in 48 States and the District of Columbia. As such, COPAA believes this legislation is a crucial first step toward the ultimate goals of eliminating abuse and restraint in schools and assuring that children who exhibit challenging behaviors obtain appropriate, safe, and effective educational services. COPAA is at the forefront of efforts to establish such federal protection and has been working on this issue for a number of years as a member of the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).
Specifically, COPAA supports the bill because it contains many provisions that provide a minimum floor of protection that does not yet exist in many states. We are pleased that the bill establishes minimum standards for the use of restraint and prohibits locked seclusion in educational settings. Restraint may only be imposed on a student if there is imminent danger of serious bodily injury. We are very pleased that the bill prohibits restraint as a planned intervention in students’ education plans, including behavior plans and Individual Education Programs (IEPs). We applaud the emphasis on evidence-based practices shown to be effective in the prevention of the use of physical restraint; in keeping both school personnel and students safe in imposing physical restraint in a manner consistent with this proposed Act; in the use of data-based decision-making and evidence-based positive behavioral interventions and supports, debriefing, conflict prevention, behavioral assessments, de-escalation of challenging behaviors, and effective and safe conflict management.
COPAA actively continues our work to raise the bar of protection and safety for all students through the passage of this legislation. We will not rest until all students are protected in accordance with the principles outlined in our document: COPAA Declaration of Principles Opposing the Use of Restraint, Seclusion and Aversive Interventions.
We urge all of our colleagues to join us in support of this critical legislation at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KeepingAllStudentsSafeAct
COPAA Letter of Support for S 2020
Sunday, December 18, 2011
This publication was developed by parents and for parents in response to repeated requests for a practical guide to keeping our school children safe from restraint, seclusion and other aversive practices. While this problem has been most acute among children with disabilities, it is an issue of school safety that has the potential to affect ALL students, directly or indirectly, and one that all parents should know and care about.
Response, the third section, contains information that, hopefully, you will never need. It provides stepby- step actions you can take if you discover that your child has been restrained and/or secluded. Many possible contacts and actions are suggested because the process of finding help is not clear and simple. Across this country, there is only a poorly-made patchwork of laws and regulations that fails to adequately protect children. Parents are often told that the organizations or public agencies they contact lack the legal authority to step in and change what is happening, and that “there is no law” against restraining or secluding school children. Parents have had to become very creative and very persistent in finding solutions that protect their children, and must continue to work together to support each other and push for reforms.
See the full listing of topics on the left side of the homepage
Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/iep.index.htmFunctional Behavioral Assessments:
What, Why, When, Where, and Who?
Paper Trails, Letter Writing & Documentation
Procedural Safeguards & Parent Notice
Subscribe to The Free Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy topics.http://www.wrightslaw.com/subscribe.htm
Due Process Hearings
Military & Department of Defense (DOD) Special Education
- Google the question above but add your state. Example: How do I file a complaint with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) ?
- Follow the instructions.
- Always keep a copy for yor files.