Tuesday, March 31, 2009

PA: Franklin Learning Center accused of incorrectly restraining students

NOTE: This is why abuse is allowed to continue.

Good old Disability Rights Network (DRN), formerly Protection & Advocacy (you know the agency that's supposed to protect people from abuse?) are at its finest again. DRN of PA staff, and not just
any staff, but Sallie Lynaugh! WITNESSED restraints used illegally, inappropriately, and ABUSIVELY in a school for disabled children. And Sallie should know, she helped us craft CHAPTER 14 LEGISLATION to protect kids from restraints. Legislation I helped draft, legislation I testified for before the House of Representative Education sub-committee to get it passed, despite the law's flaws and DRN's blatant refusal to help me and another mom when OUR KIDS were restrained, legislation DRN TESTIFIED FOR. I guess for them it was all a PR stunt.

Here's why I'm so upset: DRN has the ability to bring CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUITS against schools who discriminate and abuse disabled children. But what does this DRN do? Refer it back to PA Department of Education (DPE) for "investigation."

What's that? DPE ALREADY investigated and found the center "clean?" But they'll investigate again, just to be sure?? And for what? So the school can better create a paper trail (you know, include restraints in the IEP) so that it's NOT illegal (but maybe still abusive)?

Oh, and it's not this school's fault they abused those kids. Naaaww, it's the fault of the DISTRICTS who sent those kids there in the first place, because the DISTRICTS should've told the parents about the "continuum of placement/service options available to them." You know, before everyone agreed to have those kids sent to a school that would abuse them.


What happens to those kids in the meantime, while they're waiting around for, I don't know, someone to actually STOP THEIR ABUSE?

I'm ashamed to say I know Sallie personally, and I'm ashamed of the PA DRN, but unfortunately, I'm not one bit surprised.

Good thing I'm finally almost over my bronchitis. 

Be on the look out for an Action Alert.

Posted: 03/27/2009 02:00:00 AM EDT


An upcoming inspection of Franklin Learning Center will investigate accusations
by an advocacy group that some teachers are strapping students to chairs when
they misbehave, among other concerns.

Pennsylvania Department of Education agreed to run a second investigation of the center, a specialized school for children with severe special needs, after receiving a list of complaints from the Disability Rights Network.

The network, a non-profit Philadelphia-based advocacy group sanctioned by the federal government, conducted a surprise inspection of the school in November after receiving "numerous" complaints from students' parents.

PDE's first inspection came up mostly clean. It asked administrators to refine the language in students' individualized education plans (IEPs) to better address health equipment.

Sallie Lynagh, the children's team leader for DRN, said she observed children
being strapped to chairs. Restraints are allowed for correcting posture that
would harm the child's health, or if the child poses a danger to other students.

When she asked teachers why some students were restrained, they told her it was
for discipline purposes and to stop children from wandering away from class.
Pennsylvania law forbids restraints being used for those purposes, she said.

The network also alleged that students' local school districts should provide better special education services so that children do not have to be in a separate school to their peers.

DRN requested PDE conduct a more thorough inspection of the school after it reviewed student records with parental permission. PDE will make its inspection during the first two weeks of April.

"Parents are concerned that we are trying to close Franklin Learning Center or limit their options," said Ilene Shane, chief executive officer of DRN. "I think it's actually the opposite."

The learning center needs to give parents more information on the other education options their children should have at their default schools. The complaint is intended against the special education departments of all five participating school districts, she said.

Mike Thew, executive director of Lincoln Intermediate unit, the organization that runs the center, said he is not worried about the upcoming inspection.

The school is an "open book," letting parents come in at any time to see how teachers run the classroom, he said. Parents have the option to change their child's IEP at any time.

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