Friday, May 29, 2009

VIDEO: AZ - Seclusion Room at Lincoln Elementary School

The following video is of a seclusion room found and still in use at Lincoln Elementary School in Arizona:

AZ: Student routinely restrained to fence

By Rhonda Bodfield
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.28.2009

Five Tucson Unified School District employees were put on notice after an investigation revealed that a special-needs student at Sabino High School routinely was left restrained to a fence by his backpack from when the bus dropped him off for school to when teachers came to take him to class.

The bus monitor involved said the exceptional-education student, whose feet remained on the ground, was attached to the spoke of the fence so he wouldn't fall over or wander away while he waited for his escort.

Some teachers knew about the practice and documented their concerns in March by taking a photograph of the student restrained on the fence. The photo ended up in the assistant principal's office in early May, according to an e-mail from Principal Valerie Payne to district officials, in which she warned of the trouble it would cause if such a photo were to get out.

In a written explanation in the district's investigative file, monitor Thomas Giacoma noted that for most of the school year he had used the fence and nobody voiced disapproval, adding it was done in full sight of everyone at the bus bay, from teachers to bus drivers, supervisors and students.

"I would never intentionally do anything to a student that would give him discomfort or embarrass him in any way," Giacoma wrote in a letter of explanation to district officials. He added that the student never seemed distressed.

Giacoma said he stopped the restraint in March, when a teacher told him she was outraged that he would humiliate a student in such a manner and warned him that she would get him fired if she saw it again.

It wasn't clear in district records why the teachers didn't report their concerns to administration in March.

Payne was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Two exceptional-education teachers and two teaching assistants received letters of direction in mid-May. The letters are not a form of discipline, said TUSD's interim chief human-resources officer, Nancy Woll, but serve as a warning that discipline could occur if the behavior didn't change. The bus monitor received a verbal warning.

Woll concluded that attaching the student to the fence violated a Governing Board policy requiring that staffers maintain a courteous and professional relationship with district students, parents, employees and patrons.

The failure of the Sabino staff members to speak up about their earlier concerns violated another policy requiring staff to report unprofessional conduct.

According to internal e-mails in the investigative file, the student's mother met with staff to help work out more appropriate interventions and appeared to be satisfied with the district's response. Neither the student nor his mother was identified in the records.

Advocates for the disabled said the restraint described in the probe isn't appropriate.

"The fundamental question to ask is, 'Do you want to be attached to the fence, with no means of escape?' And if the answer is no, then we don't have the right to do that to anybody else — and especially for someone who can't advocate for themselves," said Northern Arizona University professor Dan Davidson. He has a doctorate in behavioral disabilities and teaches positive behavior support to teachers who work with people with disabilities.

Davidson cautioned that while he didn't know the specifics of the Tucson case, "in general, it's my professional experience that many instances of restraint can be prevented with better training and support to the adults who are entrusted to teach and care for the students."

Sue Kroeger, director of the Disability Resources center at the University of Arizona and who teaches disability studies in the College of Education, said the restraint described in the investigation is "disrespectful, undignified and totally unacceptable."

Kroeger said she was less inclined to shake her finger than to see the incident as symptomatic of a larger problem — the stigmatizing of people with disabilities. "I think what's huge is how we frame disability in such a way that it would make that response seem OK," she said, adding that people should stop and ask themselves if their response would be the same if they were dealing with a person of color or a woman. "Faced with that difference, we act in ways we wouldn't act with anyone else."

As a mother and a professional who happens to be in a wheelchair, she said people need to reframe their perception of disability from a deficit to just one more variable along the human spectrum.

"This is what we get when we don't stop and think about how we're conceptualizing disability. If we look at it as a subhuman, abnormal condition, this is the behavior we'll get," she said.

"It's how we've been socialized, and it's not anything that's going to change overnight. We continue to improve, but we have a long way to go."

Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at or at 806-7754.

Monday, May 25, 2009

ACTION ALERT: CT Families, Stories Needed by this Wednesday!

Forwarded from the  CT Council on Developmental Disabilities

Happy Memorial Weekend,

CT families and their childrens stories are needed on the Use of Aversives, Restraints & Seclusions,

Looking for stories from CT families whose children with disabilities have been subjected to the use of the Aversives, Restraints and Seclusions in Schools. If you have a story, could you please email me offline at

I have a meeting with Congressman Joe Courtney this Thursday and need to share real stories of the abuse are children have been put through, the name of their school/facility they attened or attended and the towns in which it occurred and you live, examples of the type of abuse, your childs diagnosis and if a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) is working with your child? I will also take stories without including the family's names and other pertinent information.

Please also let me know if your school district (name & district) has given you a copy of the Restraint & Seclusion Law in CT at a PPT? They are supposed to and this started right after the Bill was signed by the Governor in October 2007.Have you ever filed a formal complaint with the State Department of
Education? Or taken the matter any further?

Thank you in advance for sharing your stories with me and I will keep you posted on the outcome of my meeting and the hope of trying to strengthen the Restraint & Seclusion Law in CT.

Thank you,


Angela R Spino, Disability Policy Specialist
CT Council on Developmental Disabilities
460 Capitol Avenue * Hartford, CT 06106
Toll free (800)-653-1134
Fax (860)-418-6003
TTY (860)-418-6172

Sunday, May 24, 2009

IL: Bond is $75,000 for teacher accused of sex abuse

Associated Press Report

Story Created: May 23, 2009 at 9:21 PM EDT
Story Updated: May 23, 2009 at 9:21 PM EDT

STREAMWOOD, Ill. (AP) — Bond has been set at $75,000 for a suburban Chicago middle school teacher and coach accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old former student.

Robert Hope Jr. of Crystal Lake was arrested this week and appeared in bond court on Saturday.

Hope faces criminal sexual abuse and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The 36-year-old Hope is a teacher at Canton Middle School in Streamwood.

Cook County Assistant State's Attorney James Pontrelli says Hope started abusing the girl in February of last year. Pontrelli says Hope taught and coached the girl.

Hope's attorney Daniel Hofmann says Hope has no criminal record and is cooperating with authorities.

School district officials say Hope was placed on administrative leave.


Information from: Daily Herald,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Help Us Stop School Abuse - Write/Call Your State Legislators to Thank Them for Abuse Hearing

Forwarded message from an advocate in Georgia:

This week the injured and harmed schoolchildren of the United States received recognition from the House Ed and Labor Committee regardingrestraint, seclusion and corporal punishment. iN Tuesday's Hearing, the Government Accountability Office presented a shocking report regarding the treatment of school children to Congress. We have an opportunity to change and craft legislation so that all children are protected in all U.S. schools.
Here is a list of the Full Committee that held the hearing on Tuesday this week. Please CALL EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE AND URGE FEDERAL LEGISLATION TO PROTECT ALL CHILDREN IN SCHOOL. Please note, that many states are not represented on the committee, therefore you will want to include a phone call to your own U.S. representative as well and tell them what is going on. You must CALL and NOT FAX. EMAIL WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED EITHER UNLESS YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT IN THAT DISTRICT.
Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (California) called corporal punishment 'legalized child abuse'. A national ban from a federal level will happen with your help.

Please call these people today and every day over the next few weeks to urge
legislation to stop restraint, seclusion and corporal punishment.

Full Committee of House Ed and Labor:
Democrats ---------------------------
Chairman George Miller California: 202 225 2095
Dale E. Kildee Michigan 202 225 3611
Donald Payne NJ 202 225 3436
Robert E. Andrews NJ 202 225 6501
Robert C. Scott VIRGINA 202 225 8351
Lynn Woolsey CALIFORNIA 202 225 5161
Ruben Hinosa TEXAS 202 225 2531
Carolyn McCarthy NEW YORK 202 225 5516
John F. Tierney MASSACHUSETTS 202 225 8020
Dennis J. Kucinich OHIO 202 225 5871
David Wu OREGON 202 225 0855
Rush Holt NEW JERSEY 202 225 5801
Susan A. Davis CALIFORNIA 202 225 2040
Raul M. Grijalva Arizona 202 225 2435
Timoth H. Bishop NEw York 202 225 3826
Joe Sestak Pensyslvania 202 225 2011
Dave Lebsack Iowa 202 255 6576
Mazie Hirona Hawaii 202 225 4906
Jason Altmire Pennsylvania 202 225 2565
Phil Hare Illinois 202 225 5905
Yvette Clarke New York 202 255 5231
Joe Courtney Connecticut 202 255 2076
Carol Shea Porter New Hampshire 202 255 5456
Marcia Fudge Ohio 202 255 7032
Jared Polis Colorado 202 255 2161
Paul Tonko New York 202 225 5076
Pedro Pierluisi Puerto Rico 202 225 2615
Gregoria Kilili Camach Sablan Northern Marian Islands 202 225 2646
Dina Titus Nevada 202 225 3252
Republicans -------------------------
Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Ranking Member California 202 225 1956
Thomas E. Petri Wisconson 202 225 2476
Peter Hoekstra Michigan 202 225 4401
Michael Castle Deleware 202 225 4165
Mark E Souder Indiana 202 225 4436
Vernon J. Ehlers Michicgan 202 225 3831
]Judy Biggert Illinois 202 225 3515
Todd Russell Platts Pensylvania 202 225 5836
Joe Wilson South Carolina 202 225 2452
John Kline Minnesota 202 225 2271
Cathy McMorris Rodgers Washington 202 225 2006
Tom Price Georgia 202 225 4501
Rob Bishop Utah 202 225 0453
Brett Guthrie Kentucky 202 225 3501
Bill Cassidy Louisiana 202 225 3901
Tom McClintonck California 202 225 5161
Duncan Hunter California 202 225 5672
Phil Roe Tennessee 202 225 6356
Glenn GT Thompson Pennsylvania 202 225 5796

New Video from Anna Moore re Son's School Restraint

Anna has kindly shared this news clip interview where she talks about her son who was restrained in St. Lucie County Schools in Florida two years ago.

Here's what she wants the public to know:

"The system has failed our special needs children all across the United States. I live in Florida & it is very bad here for our children. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered & many people need to be held accountable. No one is above the law when it comes to child abuse yet school systems are not being held accountable. The Division of Children and Families (DCF) claim they have no authority over schools even if there are verified findings. The police say you have to prove intent to charge someone with child abuse. The run around goes on and on's about time someone is listening & they better do something about it!

The Dept of Education & School Districts have proven time and time again they can not police themselves & shouldn't."

- Anna Moore, Florida

VIDEO: 5 yr old Florida Girl Arrested at Preschool

This video recounts how a five year old girl was arrested at preschool for throwing a tantrum.

VIDEO: FL - 11 Year Old Girl Tasered At An Elementary School

Story about an 11 year old girl in an Orange County Florida Elementary School who was tasered by a School Resource Officer (SRO):

Follow Up:

VIDEO: A WI Mother Upset After Her Autistic Son Is Restrained

3 year old Zachary was strapped into a chair at the Red Apple Early Childhood School. Zachary is non-verbal and has been diagnosed with autism. His way of communicating is to get up from his seat, take a teacher's hand and direct them to what he wants. School officials claimed to "only" have strapped him in for around 45 minutes per day...

Video: Deadly Restraints by Freedom Magazine TV Report

From Freedom Magazine TV:

"It may be stating the obvious that treatment is not supposed to kill a patient. Yet this happens under the watchful eye of psychiatrists virtually every day through psychiatric drugs, restraints, brutality, assault and neglect.

Horror stories have recently emerged of children dying strapped to beds and chairs.

Learn about these abuses and more on this edition of Freedom Magazine as we expose psychiatry's deadly restraints.

Produced & Directed by Ron Savelo"

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

VIDEO: Restraint & Seclusion - Deadly Restraints

From Hard Copy: Death by Restraint in Group Homes

PA: Is a license to teach also a license to kill?


By Robin Hansen, Special Education Examiner

May 23, 12:28 AM

On Tuesday, May 19, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing to examine abusive and deadly uses of seclusion and restraint in U.S. schools. Seclusion and restraint are physical interventions used by teachers and other school staff to prevent students from hurting themselves or others. 

Ms. Toni Price gave heart wenching testimony.  Her foster son Cedric was the victim of a sadistic special education teacher who deliberately refused to follow the Individual Education Plan.  When he was a young child, Cedric had been the victim of repeated starvation.   As a result, he would panic if food was with held from him.   Cedric's classroom teacher knew this fact, yet she would  deliberately withhold his lunch.  As a result Cedric's panic would escalate.  Cedric's behavior gave the teacher an excuse to restrain and sit on him.   She killed him.   She was never convicted of any crime.  Being "only" a foster mother, Toni Price was not allowed to press charges.  The teacher, who murdered Cedric is still out  there teaching children.

Here is Cedric's story in Toni Price's own words:

Thank you, Chairman Miller and the Committee, for holding this hearing today and inviting me to share my story with you. My name is Toni Price. I am a foster mother, and Cedric was my foster son.

By the time Cedric came to my home at the age of 12, he’d been through a lot in his short life. His parents neglected him and his siblings and abused them both physically and emotionally.  They were underfed and food was withheld from them. Cedric, the oldest, used to go rummaging for food for himself and his siblings.  He'd scavenge through trash cans. Cedric began stealing food, and was caught stealing from a grocery store. Never knowing when he'd have his next meal, food was something Cedric became very sensitive about.

At 9 years old, his parents lost parental rights to Cedric and his siblings. His aunt and grandmother had also lost their rights to guardianship. Cedric went to many foster homes but struggled. After a number of unsuccessful placements, Cedric was sent to a boot camp facility,north of Killeen. Unfortunately, at this boot camp, he experienced more abuse. He had a prominent scar on his face from being beaten with a shovel by a boot camp supervisor.

It was after that facility that he came to live with my family and me at the age of 12. Despite his experiences, Cedric came to me with a smile. He was very jovial, and truly loved to smile. He liked to bike, go bowling, and feed the ducks in a pond near our house. When he had extra energy, he loved to run to the end of our driveway and back. He got along well with the other children in the house, particularly my son, because he'd always wanted a big brother. They played a lot of basketball together. I remember at church Cedric wanted to be in a play, but there were no parts for him. He got this big smile on his face and said: “I know a part!” and went and stood on the stage. The director said “Okay, you can be an angel.”

I knew he was sensitive about food, so I said he could have anything in the kitchen, he just had to tell me. Cedric had behavioral problems, but they were never physical and he was never aggressive. We were able to find solutions to his misbehaving that worked. Once he stole a bag of chips from the kitchen. I made him pay me back. It was a consequence that worked. He didn’t like parting with his allowance, and learned his lesson about stealing. But it was a consequence that didn’t bring any of his previous abuse up to the surface. His therapist asked him once to describe a safe place. His answer was in a cave with solid rock walls, a steel door, and lots of food. Even though he was well fed at my home, food was a trigger for Cedric from the trauma of his childhood.

Cedric enrolled in a public middle school. He was placed in a class for students with behavioral problems. His first year in the school, in seventh grade, he had no problems. I didn’t get phone calls, and he did well in school.

His eighth grade year, with a different teacher, he had a number of problems. He did not get along with the teacher, and would always say to me “I don’t think this teacher likes me.” I’d reassure him that she did. I got frequent calls from his teacher that year about verbal aggression,though I never got calls about physical aggression. I would ask the teacher to put Cedric on the phone and say: “Cedric, you know you have to do your work.” He’d say: “yes ma’am.” Sometimes Cedric would get in trouble at school for stealing food. But what I learned later was that in his classroom he was being withheld food as punishment for acting out. The morning of his death, Cedric was put on what the teacher called a “delayed lunch” because he stopped working around 11am. This was, apparently, a common punishment for him.

At 1pm Cedric got in more trouble when, still not having lunch, he was caught trying to steal candy. After 2:30, he still hadn’t been allowed to eat his lunch, and got up to leave the classroom. After Cedric attempted to leave the classroom, he refused to sit back down in his chair so his teacher forced him into his chair and restrained him. She is roughly six feet tall and weighs over two hundred thirty pounds. Cedric was short- he was a little boy. Cedric struggled as he was being held in his chair, so the teacher put him in a face down, or in a prone restraint, and sat on him. He struggled and said repeatedly: “I can’t breathe.” “If you can speak, you can breathe,” she snapped at him. Shortly after that, he stopped speaking and he stopped struggling. He stopped moving at all. The teacher continued to restrain him. Finally the teacher and aide put Cedric back in his chair. The aide wiped drool off his mouth and they sat him up. But he slumped over and slipped out of his chair. Precious minutes passed by before a nurse was called.

I received a call at work that Cedric was not breathing and that an ambulance had been called. I rushed up to the school, not completely clear what was going on or what had happened. When I got to the school, my son was lying on the floor with a paramedic beside him. I knelt down and said: “Cedric, get up. You’re not going to be in any trouble.” But Cedric didn’t move, and instead, the paramedic stood me up. My son was dead. I didn’t know the school was practicing restraint techniques on Cedric. I didn’t know they were withholding food as a form of punishment. In fact, when I initially enrolled him at the school, I told administrators he’d been withheld food as a child and it was traumatic. When this teacher was having trouble with Cedric, I told her about my techniques with handling him at home. I tried to help her because Cedric was not a bad kid. He had come so far, and had such success in the seventh grade. I knew that he could be successful in the eighth. The school never held meetings with me to address any behavioral problems. Aside from calls from his teacher, I didn’t know the extent to which Cedric was getting in trouble and what they were doing to him.

After his death, nobody from the school came for calling hours. The superintendent and the principal of the school wrote a letter of condolence. Nobody offered any help because I was just a foster mother. Days later, the teacher called, and my husband answered the phone. But instead of a heartfelt apology, she explained that she was just doing her job. She showed no sympathy, no compassion, no guilt.This teacher took a child’s life. But she also caused a lot of damage to his classmates, many of who were victims of trauma already. Those kids who witnessed it already had behavioral problems. His classmates and their parents were forbidden to talk to me. But for many of the children, witnessing the abuse of Cedric was so traumatic for them that they spoke, and in turn, their parents spoke to me.

After I read the autopsy report, I was taken aback at how much a school can get away with. Cedric’s death was ruled a homicide. The school policy allows for “therapeutic floor holds” when a child is endangering himself or others. Here Cedric was not endangering himself or others. This floor hold should not have been done.

The teacher’s previous treatment was reviewed and no problems were found with her conduct. No legal action was taken against this teacher, and as a foster mother, I didn’t have the right to press charges. Eventually a judge found this teacher’s actions to be reckless, and Cedric’s death not an accident.But she never received a criminal record or any kind of sentence. She was placed on a Texas registry for being abusive to children. But that registry only applies to Texas, and I have been told that this teacher now teaches at a public high school in Northern Virginia. Her Virginia teaching license shows her credentials to be K-12 special education. If that teacher was just doing her job, then something is very wrong with the system.

If I’d treated Cedric that way at home, I’d be in jail. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child. It is awful the way Cedric died. He was a good kid. This should have never happened. The morning Cedric died, as he was boarding the bus, he turned around and got a beaming smile on his face, and said to me “You know I love you, ma.” He was a good kid.

For more info:

MO: Former Leavenworth school librarian sentenced for sex abuse

The Associated Press

LEAVENWORTH | A former Leavenworth elementary school librarian has been sentenced to almost 25 years in prison for sexually abusing a student.

A Leavenworth County District Court judge sentenced 37-year-old Anthony C. Baker to 299 months on Thursday.

Baker pleaded guilty last year to a federal child pornography charge and was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. The new sentence will run consecutively with that one.

TX: Agency overseeing state schools to hire more than 1,000 new workers

12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, May 23, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – The agency that oversees the state schools for the mentally disabled will hire more than 1,000 new workers and drastically improve living conditions at the facilities under a five-year, $112 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The agreement, approved by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week, follows a four-year federal investigation that found widespread civil rights violations across Texas' 13 state schools.

It's a response to years of media reports about abuse and neglect in the facilities, culminating with news this winter that employees orchestrated a "fight club" at the Corpus Christi State School.

"The abuse that has taken place is inexcusable," said Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. "We are all ready for a new beginning in our efforts to take care of and protect Texans with disabilities."

But critics of the state schools question whether pouring money and more employees into them will fix a system they say is fundamentally broken. They argue lawmakers have hiked funding and approved new hires in previous years, only to see the problems continue.

"What did we get for our money? Fight clubs, suicides, deaths that could've been prevented," said Jeff Garrison-Tate, who runs the nonprofit Community Now!

In a legislative hearing on the agreement Friday, officials with the Department of Aging and Disability Services stressed that they have not been waiting for the sign-off to improve conditions at the state schools.

"We've reduced the use of restraints, strengthened training of direct care workers and added hundreds of staff across the state," agency commissioner Addie Horn said.

And lawmakers have already passed a bill and agreed to spend millions to improve safety at the state schools through emergency legislation ordered by Gov. Rick Perry.

Under the federal settlement agreement, the agency and the Justice Department must hire more than 1,000 workers and appoint several independent monitors to oversee the state schools as they implement the changes.

But the hiring goal may be difficult to meet. Two years ago, lawmakers authorized the state schools to hire nearly 1,700 new employees, and 300 of these positions remain unfilled. State officials say they expect to have them filled by the end of August.

Lawmakers must pass a resolution approving the agreement by the end of the legislative session. As of Friday, the roughly $45 million that lawmakers would have to spend in the next two years to comply with the agreement was not included in the state budget, but lawmakers said they are hopeful it will be included in a supplemental spending bil

MN: Cretin-Derham Hall principal takes heat for naming sex abuse victim

A group wants action against Cretin-Derham President Richard Engler for releasing the plaintiff's name in a suit over alleged sex abuse at Cretin High in the '70s.

Last update: May 23, 2009 - 7:32 AM

The director of the group Minnesota Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called Friday for disciplinary action against the principal of Cretin-Derham Hall High School for releasing the name of a former student who filed a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a teacher in the 1970s.

On Monday, Cretin-Derham President Richard Engler sent a letter to parents of current and prospective students and to members of the school's advisory council, alerting them to the lawsuit against the school. The suit also names the Christian Brothers of the Midwest.

"Talk is cheap," SNAP director Bob Schwiderski said at a news conference held in front of the offices of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. "It is a blatant attempt to quiet those that might also be on the verge of stepping out of the shadows of silence."

Engler said by phone Friday that the former student's name was revealed to him in a letter from the man's lawyer and that he included it in the name of full disclosure.

"I wanted to be perfectly transparent with our parents and our Presidential Advisory Council as to what was occurring," Engler said in a phone interview. "There was no ill intent at all. ... I was afraid it would be released in the media, and my parents would be alerted by the media and not by the school. I wanted to be perfectly honest with our parents."

Though Schwiderski demanded the archdiocese take action against Engler, spokesman Dennis McGrath noted that while the school operates under the auspices of the archdiocese, it has no institutional authority over the school's day-to-day affairs. Calls to the school's parents group and to leaders of the Presidential Advisory Council were not returned Friday.

Engler's letter did not include the name of the teacher accused of the abuse, Brother Anthony (Raimond) Rose, who has been accused in a separate suit of sexually abusing a student while a teacher at Minneapolis' DeLaSalle High School a few years earlier. Rose, 76, is now retired and living in Chicago.

The Star Tribune does not identify victims of sexual abuse. An e-mail sent to an address linked to the plaintiff's name did not go through.

Cretin High School was an all-boys academy run by the Christian Brothers of the Midwest when the abuse is alleged to have occurred. Cretin merged with the all-girls' Derham Hall High School in 1987.

On Friday afternoon, Schwiderski held the news conference in front of the archdiocese offices in St. Paul before he hand-delivered a letter calling on Archbishop John Nienstedt to "harshly and publicly punish" Engler.

McGrath addressed reporters on the office steps. "It's ludicrous to say we would discipline the principal of a school," he said. "They're hopping on this as an opportunity to embroil the archdiocese."

In front of TV cameras on the sidewalk in front of the archdiocese's offices, Schwiderski was joined by Dave Leinen, a survivor of abuse at the hands of a Benedictine brother at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. His partner, Carrie Doerr, stood at his side.

It took 40 years before Leinen could talk at all about his childhood abuse, he said. In 2008, he sought help to deal with it. It's a bit easier to talk now, after a year of intensive therapy and group support. But he said he can't imagine what it would have been like if he hadn't been able to choose his own pace.

"I am still and will always be recovering from this," said Leinen, who now lives in the Dallas area. "I can only imagine the terror [the plaintiff] is going through right now. Something as private and scary and frightening as that is, and now everybody knows about it, and he hasn't had an opportunity to explain his side of it. I can't imagine."

Schwiderski noted that other clergy abuse cases have been handled without revealing the name of the plaintiffs. He reiterated his fear that "outing" this John Doe will have a chilling effect on others.

PA: 'Detestable' conduct nets priest 3-6 yrs.

Archbishop Ryan's ex-prez, accused of sexual abuse, convicted of thievery

ARTHUR BASELICE JR. stood before a judge yesterday trying to find the words to describe the Rev. Charles Newman, the former president of Archbishop Ryan High School, whom authorities contend sexually abused Baselice's son and paid the student with stolen money to keep him quiet.

"The words 'sick,' 'detestable,' 'filthy' . . . are inadequate," Baselice said after displaying a photo of his son, Arthur Baselice III, who died of a drug overdose at age 28 on Nov. 30, 2006.

He then called Newman a "pedophile" and a "wicked disciple of the devil."

After an emotional hearing, Common Pleas Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi sentenced Newman to three to six years in state prison, followed by 10 years' probation, on charges of theft and forgery for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school and his religious order.

He was not charged with any sex-abuse offenses - the statute of limitations in effect at the time had expired - but authorities contend that Newman, 58, started abusing Baselice when he was a 16-year-old junior at Ryan. They also claim that the abuse continued for years after Baselice graduated in 1996 and that Newman gave Baselice thousands of dollars to buy drugs and to serve as hush money.

Prosecutors contended that Newman stole more than $900,000 from Archbishop Ryan and his Wisconsin-based Franciscan Friars order from July 2002 - when he became president of the school, on Academy Road near Chalfont Drive in the Northeast - to Nov. 20, 2003, when he was fired. According to the District Attorney's Office's grand-jury report, Newman stole $331,916 from the school, putting about 56 percent of that amount into an account held by the Franciscan Friars. Newman also had cashed 111 of 223 unauthorized checks, totaling $552,280, from the Franciscan bank account. The Franciscan Friars no longer operate Ryan, the largest school in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Newman raided both funds to give Baselice at least $54,000.

Baselice's parents, who were in court with daughter Ashleigh and other family members, hurled harsh words at Newman, blaming him for their son's death.

Baselice's mother, Elaine, told the judge: "He [Newman] plied my teenage son with alcohol and drugs so that Arthur could be more easily abused. . . . Newman had me believe my son was full of demons. Standing in the courtroom today, I am faced with the true demon!"

Deputy District Attorney Charles Gallagher asked the judge for a sentence of seven to 14 years in state prison.

Defense attorney Frank DeSimone contended that authorities have "no proof beyond a reasonable doubt" that his client had been involved in any sexual abuse, and said Newman admitted having sex with Baselice, but he insisted that it occurred only after Baselice became an adult.

Upon hearing that, Elaine Baselice cried out "Bulls---!"

Later, she yelled another retort, then walked out in tears.

DeSimone contended some of the money Newman stole was double-counted since Newman put some of the Ryan money into the Franciscan Friars' account.

Gallagher added: "We'll never know the bottom line" of how much Newman actually stole. Pointing to Newman, he said: "He knows where the money is!"

Newman had pleaded guilty in March to two counts of theft and one count of forgery. The judge yesterday pressed Newman on what he did with the money.

Newman, dressed in a short-sleeved, red button-down shirt and black pants, said he knew that giving Baselice money was wrong, but alleged that the money was for Baselice's health and not for drugs. He said the rest of it went to parents who needed tuition help and to parishioners. He apologized to the Archdiocese and to the Baselices.

The judge was not satisfied with Newman's answers. She called his explanations "sorely lacking" and "bizarre," noting that if he really wanted to help parents and parishioners, he could have done so by being aboveboard.

"What you were doing is stealing money," she said. "I don't believe you were doing it for good whatsoever."

The "bottom line," the judge said, is that Newman was stealing money for "self-gratification."

Michael McArdle, Archbishop Ryan's president, said Newman's actions took a "terrible toll" on the school.

William F. Coyle, a retired lawyer, spoke on Newman's behalf, asking the judge to consider "the good that he has done in his life."

Under a state law effective last year, Newman is eligible for an alternative minimum sentence under the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive program. As such, he could be paroled after 27 months in prison.

Newman was taken into custody right after sentencing. The sentence exceeded state guidelines.

Afterward, as DeSimone told reporters he thought the sentence was "fair," an aunt of Baselice III yelled out that she hoped Newman gets treated in prison the way he abused Baselice when he was alive.

Outside the Criminal Justice Center, Elaine Baselice called Newman "the devil in sheep's clothing," adding, "I wish he got a million years, if that was possible."

Although the Legislature has extended the statute of limitations in sex-abuse cases, Arthur Baselice Jr. said he hopes that lawmakers will get rid of it.

Gallagher was "gratified that the court saw through the masquerade and the untruths" of Newman.

Retiring next week after 35 years in the D.A.'s office, Gallagher has kept a photo of Baselice III on his desk. "I'll be able, finally, to put it to rest," he said. *

FL: Lawsuit says too many psychiatric drugs killed boy

A disabled boy was lethally overmedicated, a lawsuit contends, as outrage continues over a child's suicide while on several drugs last month.


Amid a wide-ranging debate over the proper use of mental health drugs on troubled children, the mother of a disabled boy who died in 2007 is claiming in a lawsuit the boy was overdosed by a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, including two powerful anti-psychotics.

Denis, who was diagnosed with autism, died of serotonin syndrome, according to a 2007 autopsy by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's office.

The rare condition, which can be life-threatening, occurs when a combination of drugs -- particularly mental-health drugs -- causes the brain to produce an excess of serotonin, a chemical produced by nerve cells that regulates mood. The condition can cause rigidity and tremors, as well as confusion and high blood pressure, said Dr. Carlos Singer, a professor of neurology at the University of Miami's medical school.

''I miss him so much,'' Quesada, 31, of Hialeah, said of her son, who died a week after Mother's Day. ``This month, for me, is hard because of Mother's Day. This Saturday will be two years since he died. The last time I saw him it was Mother's Day.''

''I know I am happy, because I have two other children,'' Quesada said. ``But I am also sad, because my other son died. It's hard.''

Denis died May 23, 2007. He had gone by van with others from the group home to get a haircut at a local flea market. In the parking lot, he became aggressive, kicking and biting group home staff. An autopsy report said he became unresponsive shortly after staff restrained him while he lay on his stomach on a bench seat in the van.

Quesada's lawsuit was filed amid a high-profile investigation by the Department of Children & Families into the death last month of Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old foster child who had been taking a cocktail of mental health drugs. DCF Secretary George Sheldon appointed a task force to study Gabriel's case, and the use of psychiatric drugs on foster kids.


Kaplan did not return calls for comment. In a June 2007 article in The Miami Herald, Kaplan said ''it's possible'' Denis would have been sleepy at school if he had not been given his medications at the right times. But, Kaplan added, ``I never saw him dopey or sleepy.''

''He was all over the place, a tough little guy to handle but very likeable,'' the psychiatrist said at the time.

Rainbow Ranch's owner, David Glatt, whose group homes were shut down by the state in June 2007, could not be reached for comment.

Denis, whose autism was severe, was sent by his mother to a state-funded group home in 2003 after he tried to choke his younger sister. Quesada never relinquished her right to raise the boy, but was afraid his violent outbursts were a danger to her two other children.

According to the 28-page lawsuit, Glatt stopped taking Denis to doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital after he arrived at the group home in May 2006, and substituted Kaplan ''without the consent of [Denis's] mother.'' Kaplan was treating several group home clients, the suit claims.

Kaplan prescribed and refilled four mental health drugs: Seroquel and Zyprexa, both anti-psychotic medications; Depakote, an anti-seizure drug sometimes used to stabilize moods; and Clonazepam, a tranquilizer. The lawsuit says the drugs were used ``as chemical restraints to control Denis's behavior.''

Though some of the medications are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use on children and carry strong warnings about possible side-effects, Kaplan ''took no steps to ensure that Denis was not suffering any adverse effects from these medications,'' the suit claims.

In fact, the suit claims, Kaplan examined the boy only once between between May 26, 2006 and May 23, 2007, the day Denis died.

There were warning signs that the drugs may have been harming the boy, according to the suit, filed by by Fort Lauderdale attorneys Maria Elena Abate and Howard Talenfeld. In June 2006, teachers at Denis's school, Ruth Owens Kruse Educational Center, reported the boy was sleeping through class.


Acting on concerns from his teachers, Denis was hospitalized twice, first on July 17, 2006, at Miami Children's Hospital for emergency treatment, and, later on Aug. 4, 2006, at Baptist Hospital's emergency room. Doctors at Baptist recommended that the dosage of one of the drugs, Depakote, be reduced, the suit claims.

The lawsuit says the dosage was, indeed, reduced, but then increased again about six months later.
That winter, the suit claims, the Department of Children & Families child abuse hot line received a call that Denis was being overmedicated, and that Rainbow Ranch staff ``were not seeking medical attention for Denis when he was overmedicated.''

DCF would not discuss the investigation with a reporter Tuesday.

Friday, May 22, 2009

GA: Mother Records Autistic Child's Alleged Abuse

From 11 Alive - NOTE: A judge has ruled the bruises on this young boy were caused by "an adult at school"...but did not find ANYONE specifically responsible despite an audio recording of an educator asking him if he wanted a "be quiet hit," which was then followed by thumps and sounds of pain.

ATLANTA -- Stefan is an 11-year-old boy with Autism. A judge ruled he was physically and verbally abused at school.

11Alive has learned from the Deputy Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools that the teacher involved in this story is "no longer in the classroom."

Atlanta Public School representatives sent a letter to the Georgia Department of Education and Metropolitan Regional Education Services demanding answers.

Stefan is an Atlanta Public School student but because of his special needs, he goes to schools run by a state agency called Metro North.

They line the outside of each leg -- bruises from knee to hip. A judge has ruled a school employee caused these injuries to 11-year-old Stefan Ferrari the day before pictures were taken.

Stefan cannot speak. He has Autism, and is non-verbal.

He could not tell his parents -- couldn't tell anyone -- what happened to him. But he had a mother who believed, before this happened, that something was terribly wrong at his school.

Stefan went to Margaret Mitchell Elementary School in Buckhead, where he was doing well, but he was transferred to the Marshall School in DeKalb County in August 2008, due to renovations.
That's when the Ferraris say things started to fall apart.

"I knew something was really wrong for the first time on September 8th," said Stefan's mother, Carolyn Ferrari.

That's when she said Stefan came home with bloody scratches, bruises and ripped shorts. His behavior over the next month deteriorated.

"It was getting worse and worse," Carolyn said.

Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari say they repeatedly told school officials they were concerned. So the mother of a boy without a voice found a way to give him one.

"It's about the size of a quarter," Carolyn said about a microphone she sewed into Stefan's shirt. She sent him to school with it on October 21.

It would be his last day at Marshall.

"As soon as he took his boxers off to get in the shower, I noticed it," said Stefan's father, Marcelo Ferrari. "And I was like, 'oh my God'."

Marcelo was shocked by the severe bruising covering his son's legs. He and his wife went straight to the tape.

"Sit down stupid," was one of the things they heard on the tape.

"It was horrifying," Carolyn said. "I was visibly sick. I felt like I was going to vomit."

Carolyn and Marcelo stayed up all night listening to hour after hour of what they say was the neglect, ridicule and abuse of their son.

With the microphone hidden at the base of Stefan's neck, picking up the sounds around him, the Ferraris listened to the adults in the room talk about the size of a boyfriend's genitals.

"The man I'm dating is intelligent. But he has a small penis. You can't throw a pebble into the ocean. Does it matter? Does size matter? Yes it does."

The adults talked about drinking.

"Russian vodka with olive juice. That's a dirty martini?"

At one point in the day, Stefan ate some pizza out of the trash can. The adults joked about it.

"I mean he was chill. Finger lickin' good. He was chillin' with that."

But what the Ferraris heard that horrified them was this:

"You want a be-quiet hit?" (followed by the sound of a thump) "There you go. Get it now, go on."

And two minutes later, listen as an adult tells others to leave.

"Please make him be quiet. Go away. Go. Take a minute. Go. Go on."

And 15 seconds later, there were 18 seconds of thumps and the sounds of Stefan making noises.

"It was numbing, and yet at the same time, you can't stop listening to it, because you're thinking, 'oh my God, if my child went through this, I need to hear what happened to my child'," Carolyn said.

The Ferraris called DFACS and Atlanta police. Both investigations went nowhere. They sued the Atlanta Public Schools -- which recommended the program to the family. What was done to Stefan Ferrari and who did it would be decided in a small state administrative courtroom.

First up, Marshall's principal, Gail Healy.

"At no time after interviewing my teachers, talking to them do I feel he was abused at my program," Healy said.

Attorneys for Atlanta Public Schools said maybe Stefan cause the injuries to himself, but the Ferraris said Stefan was never self-injurious -- and the judge agreed.

Stefan's pediatrician, Dr. Alison Koenig testified.

"It seems to me something like that, he could not have done to himself but somebody had done it to him," she said.

The school's attorneys suggested maybe Stefan's father did it.

In his ruling, Judge John Gatto found, "Stefan was not injured at home...(He) was injured at school...His injuries were caused by multiple infliction of trauma. They were caused by his being struck by a hand or an object by an adult."

The week-long hearing was filled with experts -- educational, psychological, criminal. But the most anticipated witness took the stand on the final day of the hearing: teacher Sherri Jones. And the Ferrari's attorney, John Zimring, got right to it, asking her if she was the one talking about a man's gentials.

"I can't recall if I said it or not," Jones said.

If she was the one talking about drinking.

"I may have," she said.

If she was one of the people joking about Stefan eating out of the trash.

"I don't recall saying that," Jones said.

But after Sherri Jones is made again and again to listen to the audio, her answers changed.

"And that was your voice?" Zimring asked.

"Yes, it was," Jones answered.

"So you did say that?" Zimring asked.

"It came out of my mouth, yes," Jones replied.

"You said that did you not?" Zimring asked.

"Most likely, yeah," said Jones.

"It was you wasn't it?" Zimring asked.

"Umm, that could have been what I said, yeah," Jones admitted.

Jones denies ever hitting or threatening to hit Stefan -- and the judge did not find that she did. His decision stated only that Stefan was injured at school by an adult.

"That is your voice is it not?" Zimring asked when the voice on the tape referred to striking Stefan.

"No, it's not," Jones said.

"Whose was it?" Zimring pressed on.

"I don't know," Jones said.

"You are under testimony to his honor!" Zimring said.

"I do not know whose voice is on that tape," Jones said. "It is not me."

"So you felt empowered to take advantage of these children with disabilities?" Zimring asked.

"No," Jones replied.

Atlanta school attorneys gave Sherri Jones a chance to explain herself.

"I understand how it may come across," Jones said. "But I love what I do, and this will not stop me from continuing to do what I do for the rest of my life."

In his ruling, Judge Gatto used the word appalling -- given that Stefan is non-verbal, and did not have the ability to inform his parents of his mistreatment by employees on October 21. The school's failure to take the steps to discipline the adult educators involved leads the court to conclude that the schools can only promise more of the same.

"He's a different child," Carolyn Ferrari said.

Seven months after he was injured, Stefan Ferrari has made tremendous strides, and is excelling at his new private school. Failed by those who were supposed to support and protect her son, a determined mother did something no one thought could be done -- she gave him a voice.

GA: Outrage and Action Over Autistic Child's Alleged Abuse

See Related:

GA: Mother Records Autistic Child's Alleged Abuse

Ferrari family's attorney seeks sit-down meeting with Atlanta Public Schools -- CLICK HERE to read the memo.

Judge John Gatto's ruling in Stefan's case

GA: Bernie Marcus Speaks Out on Autism and Autism Case

(PART TWO)ATLANTA -- There's outrage over 11Alive's investigation of the story of an 11-year-old boy with Autism -- a judge said the boy was injured at school by an adult. The reaction received in the 11Alive Newsroom after the story aired Monday night has been unprecedented -- and people are demanding answers from the system that educated 11-year-old Stefan Ferrari.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Metro North officials announced they had removed Stefan Ferrari's teacher from the classroom. Sherri Jones admitted in a courtroom to talking about sex and drinking in front of the children.

Judge John Gatto, a judge with the Office of State Administrative Hearings, found that Stefan was physically abused by an adult at his school last October.

* CLICK HERE to read Judge Gatto's ruling.

Stefan, an Atlanta Public Schools student, attended the facility in DeKalb County that is run by Metro North, a state agency. After coming home with unexplained injuries, Stefan's mother sewed a microphone into his shirt and sent him to school on October 21. On the same day that Jones was removed, Atlanta school officials -- who refused to comment on the story for almost two months -- were ready to talk.

* CLICK HERE to read the full text of the letter to executive director of Metropolitan Regional Educational Services, Dr. Fran Davis Perkins* CLICK HERE to read the full text of the letter to the state deputy superintendent of standards, instruction and assessment, Dr. Martha Reichrath

"I'm angry, horrified and disgusted about what happened to the young man at North Metro," said Atlanta Public School deputy superintendent Kathy Augustine in an interview with 11Alive's Jaye Watson. "I know he and his family have been treated badly."

GA: Bernie Marcus Speaks Out on Autism and Autism Case

See Related:Ferrari family's attorney seeks sit-down meeting with Atlanta Public Schools -- CLICK HERE to read the memo.
Judge John Gatto's ruling in Stefan's case
GA: Mother Records Autistic Child's Alleged Abuse

NOTE: While we don't always agree with Autism Speaks, we fully agree with Mr. Marcus's remarks regarding abusive treatment of children with autism....

As interest in the Stefan Ferrari case gains national attention with website commentaries and hundreds of emails, one of the country's leading benefactors of bringing awareness and care to children with autism--Bernie Marcus is speaking out.

Mr. Marcus is the Founder of the Marcus Institute and Autism Center and the Co-Founder of Autism Speaks.

His Center has already treated more than 30,000 children with autism---one of the first of those was Stefan Ferrari.

His outrage about what happened to Stefan was intense.

"One out of 96 boys is autistic and when it hits the family it's a catastrophe," Mr. Marcus said.

For the family of Stefan Ferrari, 11, there was hope.

He was one of the first youngsters enrolled in the Early Intervention Program at the Marcus Autistic Center.

His mother Carolyn also became a member of the Center's Board.

"Here you have a kid that was not really easy to deal with. We brought him along so that at least he could go to public schools. To have this insensitivity in the school in dealing with this kid--it just rips your heart out. I mean the parents are going through so much as it is, on a constant basis. It's 24 hours a day--every single day and it's nonstop. On top of that to have this type of thing happen--it just points out we are not dealing with it. Schools are not dealing well with it. The government is not dealing well with it, and it's getting bigger and bigger every day," Mr. Marcus added.

For Bernie Marcus, dedicated to sensitive and patient care for children with autism--the case of Stefan Ferrari was a shocker.

"It's a horror. It's a horror. It's terrible. This kid can't fight back. This kid can't do anything. He can't tell his parents. He doesn't have the ability to share what happened at school and its infuriates me," Mr. Marcus said.

For Bernie Marcus, the emotions are strong.

"That school needs a lot of training. I think the fact that people said we are investigating--we never saw the tape, never heard the tape--it's the old Jackie Mason thing--I didn't hear it, I didn't see it--that's nonsense," Mr. Marcus added.

He continued:

"They should have paid attention to it. They should have listened to it. They should have taken action, but no action was taken until the spotlight really got big. Bless his mother----I know the mother-she, like all parents of autistic children, is determined. They are fighters. They are fighting all their lives. They don't know anything other than knowing how to fight had she fought. This was a battle that she won and she won it for all these autistic kids that are in the public schools."

But Bernie Marcus, always an optimist, sees a plus side.

He is offering training from the Marcus Institute and the Marcus Autism Center to the Atlanta Public Schools.

"An incident like this could have a good part--every bad thing sometimes has a good thing. I think it now is time to point out to Beverly Hall, who is the Superintendent of Schools, that she has a problem in her schools. That maybe there has to be more training in this. We would be happy to share with them. We would love to share with the school systems how to diagnose; how to deal with these kids; and how to best train them and change their attitudes," Mr. Marcus said.

He is confident that what happened to Stefan will hasten teacher awareness.

"An incident like this puts the spotlight on them and I think what is going to happen is that more people are going to be aware of it. More people will become sensitive to it and there will be teachers who will say--wait a minute--I better pay attention to this. I don't want this to happen to me," he added.

It's an incident that has put the spotlight front and center where Bernie Marcus wants it---on autism---too often ignored, too often treated with contempt.

GA: Two Cherokee Co. Educators Charged With Cruelty to Children

Posted By: Marcita Thomas
Posted By: Paul Crawley
Updated 5/18/2009 7:25:27 PM

WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- Woodstock High School special education teacher Laurie Peavy had nothing to say as she left the Cherokee County Jail Monday afternoon with a sweat shirt draped over her head and got into a car with a friend.

Peavy, 44, had just regained her freedom under a $60,000 bond after being arrested Monday morning on two counts each of false imprisonment and child cruelty.

She's accused of duct taping a 17-year-old autistic boy to a chair in her classroom last year and forcing a 17-year-old blind girl to stay under her desk, both apparently as punishment.

Her classroom paraprofessional, Nancy Creek, 49, was also arrested for allegedly participating in the boy's duct taping.

Cherokee County's Sheriff says they began investigating the case one week ago after another special education teacher and parapro team at Woodstock High reported the incidents.

The second pair of apparently came forward after learning that the same students were about to be reassigned to Peavy's classroom.

Sheriff Roger Garrison said the second pair were bound by law to have reported the alleged abuses when they happened last year, but he said they will not face criminal charges since they are needed to testify against Peavy and Cheek.

However, Cherokee County School system spokesman Mike McGowan said the second pair of teachers could still face possible disciplinary action for not coming forward sooner.

McGowan also said Peavy and Cheek will probably lose their jobs after an internal administrative investigation by the school system.

"We're obviously, as a school district, extremely disappointed that these allegations came to light," McGowan said, "especially in a district that is annually awarded for meeting and exceeding state targets in special education."

He said Peavy joined the Cherokee County School System in the fall of 1997, teaching first at Cherokee High and then Woodstock High, and that Cheek joined in the fall of 2001.

At last word, Cheek was still waiting to bond out of jail. Late Monday a magistrate judge reduced her original bond of $30,000 down to $22,000.

WV: Chesapeake parent says student sent to cluttered timeout room

Courtesy photo
Christy Clark, the parent of a fifth-grade student at Chesapeake Elementary, said her son was kept in a timeout room with equipment and other items.

From The Charleston Gazette:

CHESAPEAKE, W.Va. -- The mother of a Chesapeake Elementary School fifth-grader is upset that her son had been put in timeout for several hours in a room with heavy ladders, computer monitors, carts, cleaning equipment and other stored items.

Christy Clark said her son has mood disorders and struggles to fit in socially, but he should not have been so isolated from other students or kept in timeout for hours on end.

Marianne Annie, the principal at Chesapeake Elementary, said school staff members meet resistance whenever they try to resolve problems with Clark and her son.

"When it didn't work out, it was our fault," Annie said.

One day this school year, Clark said her son had been kept in the room for about four hours. He has been sent to timeout on more than one occasion, and once he was sent to eat lunch by himself in the gymnasium's storage locker, where balls and other gym equipment are kept, Clark said.

"And they wonder why he's not able to socialize," she said.

Annie said she is not aware of a child being kept in a timeout room for that length of time.

"If he was way out of control, maybe he would have been brought down here for a while," she said.

Clark was told it was because her son had not completed his schoolwork.

Annie said students are always supervised during timeout. If a student acts out, then the aide or teacher might stand in the hallway, next to the door. The door has a small window with a view of the room.

"If he was violent, a lot of it was just attention-seeking," Annie said of the boy. [NOTE: Yes, folks, this is the school principal. Wonder if the child's physicians/psychologists would agree?]
The timeout room has a bathroom and students are never locked inside, Annie said. Title I teachers have used the room for instruction, and other school specialists have used it for testing, she said. [NOTE: We don't know about you, but would YOU want to take a test in that room? Where are the chairs, where are desks? ]
The room, an old kitchen space, also has a popcorn-making machine. Students have made popcorn and slushies in the room, Annie said.

Clark snapped a few photos of the room earlier this year. Some photos showed computer monitors on a countertop, a couple of ladders only a few feet from a student's chair, boxes with seasonal decorations, toys and other classroom items stacked overhead, rolls of colored paper and other equipment and materials.

On Wednesday, the room looked relatively similar, although some computer monitors and a few other items appear to have been moved.

The room is safe, Annie said. [NOTE: But what if a child smashed a computer monitor or climbed on top of those wooden railings? ]

Still, Clark said her son climbed up on a sink counter one time so he could peek out the window.

The person supervising the boy entered the room to have him climb down, she said.

"I'm sure nobody's going to tell you that's a regulation timeout room," Clark said. "He shouldn't be put in there to start with.... That's not a safe place for kids."

Sandy Boggs, director of special education for Kanawha County Schools, said most timeouts are held in a classroom.

"We like to have safe locations for timeout," Boggs said. [NOTE: So does that mean they DON'T always have safe locations for timeout? This makes it seem like safety is optional. You know, we'd LIKE to have safe locations, but, eh, well, we'll just use this storage closet because it's there.] "Whenever our children are placed in timeout they are supervised, or should be supervised." [NOTE: So which is it? Are they or aren't they always supervised?]

Three or four hours is unusual for timeout, Boggs said.
[NOTE: The purpose of "time out rooms" supposedly is to give the child time to deescalate from "unsafe behaviors" so they can return to the classroom. It should not take 3-4 hours for a child to regain "control" over their emotions and stop being a "danger to themself or others" so WHY are these children losing multiple hours of instructional time? How many hours of instructional time (thereby getting further behind) are these children losing? We're guessing the district hasn't been made to offer compensatory education to those kids for those hours...]

"The school has been told that is not to be used as a timeout room," Boggs said. "Once we found out about it we tried to correct it."

Annie said students are not taken into the storage room for timeout anymore. Students might go to her office or the school clinic, she said. Still, Annie believes Clark would have had a problem with any other timeout room.

Clark said her son suffers from mood disorders, Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with Asperger's have difficulty with social interactions.

He has difficulty making friends and is easily bored, she said.

"They want to isolate him and get him away from everybody," Clark said.

Annie said that the boy's mother is upset that he is moving on to middle school and she doesn't believe teachers and staff at the elementary school were able to correct his problems.

"Behaviorally, he's not ready for anything," Annie said.

Clark and the boy's grandmother, Phyllis Anderson, believe he will have a difficult time adjusting to middle school.

"They're just trying to wait it out and move him on to middle school," Clark said during an interview several weeks ago.

Clark said this week she has since taken her son out of the school.

Reach Davin White at or 304-348-1254.