Sunday, May 23, 2010

NH: Four Charged in Tatooing 14 Yr Old Special Needs Child Against His Will

May 22, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. -- Four people have been charged with tattooing a 14-year-old special needs student on his backside, against his will, Concord police said.

The boy, whose name was not released, told police the four told him he wouldn't be picked on at Concord High School if he submitted to it. An image, with two obscene words was tattooed on him May 10, police said.

The victim was targeted because he's intellectually challenged, prosecutor Scott Murray said.

"You put yourself in this kid's position, your heart has to go out to him," said Sgt. John Thomas, who said the boy has been picked on so much that he would do anything to stop it. "It's gotten so bad that you have to subject your body to being scarred for life, just to be accepted by your peers."

Blake VanNest, 18, is charged with assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, tattooing without a license, indecent exposure and criminal threatening. Donald Wyman, 20, is charged with criminal liability for the conduct of another and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a minor.

Two others -- Ryan Fisk, 19 and Travis Johnston, 18, -- are also charged.

For more on this story, please follow the link:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NJ: Restraints used by NJ educators to curb unruly behavior under scrutiny

Excerpt from

It's been called "the dirty little secret'' of special education.

New Jersey gives public and private schools a virtual free pass to forcibly restrain unruly children with disabilities.

School employees can use "bear hugs,'' "basket holds'' and "take downs'' … which sound more like wrestling moves than anything you'd expect to see in school … and keep children confined in "time-out'' rooms until they calm down.

Last year, congressional investigators uncovered hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and at least 20 deaths related to the use of restraints and seclusion in U.S. schools since 1990.

State law also allows school employees to use extreme measures to control severely autistic children who habitually injure themselves by banging their heads, biting their hands or other compulsive behaviors. The techniques include spraying water or noxious chemicals in kids' faces, snapping their wrists with rubber bands or putting hot sauce on their tongues, disability rights advocates say.

Educators and crisis-intervention experts say restraining holds and other forceful methods are sometimes necessary, as a last resort, to protect children and others from harm. Moreover, they reflect the serious behavior problems schools have to contend with today, especially in special education.

For more information, please click on the following link:

Announcement: National Autism Association Urges FL Governor's Refusal of Flawed Restraint/Seclusion Bill

Excerpt from National Autism Association:

Gutted bill strips away ability to prevent abusive treatments of children in Florida classrooms

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Autism Association (NAA) today is asking parents and advocates for children to contact Florida governor Charlie Crist, urging that he not sign legislation that has been stripped of its original intent to protect children from harmful restraint and seclusion practices in Florida schools. This alarming trend is on the rise nationwide.

A May, 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) brought to light incidents of abusive classroom treatments of our nation's schoolchildren that have resulted in serious injury and death. Often the children subjected to these practices have diagnoses of autism or related disorders. The GAO report revealed deaths from "mechanical compression to the chest," or "smothering." One schoolchild died from restraint following a seizure, another died from hanging himself in a seclusion room. Other cases included a four-year-old girl who was tied to a chair and abused, five children who were duct-taped to their desks, and a ten-year-old boy who was put in a seclusion room "75 times over a 6-month period for hours at a time for offenses such as whistling, slouching and hand-waving."

The original Florida bill, SB 2118: Use of Seclusion and Restraint on Students with Disabilities, was written with significant parental input that no longer existed in the version passed by the Florida state Senate last Thursday. According to Port St. Lucieparent Anna Moore, whose son Isaiah was brutally restrained while at school in 2007, "This version of the bill is a disgrace. I don't see the protections from the dangerous and even deadly restraint and seclusion practices that are being used on our most vulnerable children. If anything, I am worried it will do more harm than good for children subjected to these inhumane treatments."

Among the concerns of Mrs. Moore and other parents are that the bill:

  • Allows schools to wait 3 school days before mailing the incident report to parents. If a child was restrained on Friday, it is likely a parent would not receive an incident report until the following Friday or Monday thereafter.
  • Does not afford parents any rights if they disagree with a practice used or believe a child was abused.
  • Allows school districts to self-monitor restraint/seclusion events with no independent oversight. Data does not go to federal Department of Education and does not include information about prior complaints from parents regarding district's failure to provide proper supports/services according to IDEA.
  • Does not require public reporting of data.
  • Allows school districts to decide their own policies on data collection, incident reporting, and monitoring with no independent oversight.
  • Does not adequately define or address the use of seclusion/solitary confinement which has resulted in severe abuse in numerous cases.
  • Fails to provide prohibition against the use of aversive interventions that compromise health and safety.
  • Fails to require that Applied Behavior Analysis or other Positive Behavior Interventions that are evidence-based be used to prevent behaviors or training for such interventions.
  • Fails to designate penalties for violations.
For more information, please click on the following link:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

MA: Report filed against Judge Rotenberg Center; Electric Shock Therapy Allegedly Violates Geneva Convention

"I prayed to God someone would help these kids..."

Excerpt from The Raw Story:

May 4, 2010

By Diana Sweet

Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) has filed a report and urgent appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture alleging that the Judge Rotenberg Center for the disabled, located in Massachusetts, violates the UN Convention against Torture.

The rights group submitted their report this week, titled "Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center," after an in-depth investigation revealed use of restraint boards, isolation, food deprivation and electric shocks in efforts to control the behaviors of its disabled and emotionally troubled students.

Findings in the MDRI report include the center's practice of subjecting children to electric shocks on the legs, arms, soles of feet and torso -- in many cases for years -- as well as some for more than a decade. Electronic shocks are administered by remote-controlled packs attached to a child's back called a Graduated Electronic Decelerators (GEI).

The disabilities group notes that stun guns typically deliver three to four milliamps per shock. GEI packs, meanwhile, shock students with 45 milliamps -- more than ten times the amperage of a typical stun gun.

A former employee of the center told an investigator, "When you start working there, they show you this video which says the shock is 'like a bee sting' and that it does not really hurt the kids. One kid, you could smell the flesh burning, he had so many shocks. These kids are under constant fear, 24/7. They sleep with them on, eat with them on. It made me sick and I could not sleep. I prayed to God someone would help these kids."

For the full article, please click the following link:

IN: Lawsuit - 8 yr old Boy with Autism Tied to Chair

Excerpt from

IPS Policy, Indiana Law Allows Children To Be Restrained

POSTED: 4:08 pm EDT April 29, 2010
UPDATED: 6:08 pm EDT April 29, 2010

The mother of an 8-year-old boy with autism is suing Indianapolis Public Schools after she said her son was tied to a chair by a teacher's aide.

Jennifer Robbins said she went to William Penn ElementarySchool on Jan. 14 for a conference and found her son, Hudson, belted to a chair in the corner of his classroom, 6News' Joanna Massee reported.

"It was wrapped around and tied twice in a double knot," said Robbins, who described the mostly non-verbal boy as looking disheveled and as if he had been crying.

She said her son's teacher and two teacher's aides were in the classroom at the time, and that the school's principal, Rhonda Akers, apologized for the incident.

For more information, please click on the following link:

TX: State Abuse - Despite reforms, abuse in state institutions remains high.

Excerpt from The Texas Observer:

April 19, 2010
By Dave Mann

Despite reforms by state lawmakers, abuse and neglect of Texans with mental retardation in state-run institutions has increased the past three years, according to anObserver analysis of state data. Reforms enacted in response to a high-profile abuse scandal have left the facilities with fewer residents and more staff, yet confirmed allegations of abuse rose 57 percent between 2007 and 2009. However, the number of abuse cases has dropped slightly so far in 2010, indicating that perhaps the latest reforms are having some effect.

For the past four years, Texas’ 13 sprawling, state-run institutions for the mentally retarded—formerly known as State Schools and which the Legislature recently renamed State Supported Living Centers—have been the source of horrific tales of abuse. Since 2005, investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and numerous media outlets, including the Observer (see “Systemic Neglect,” May 1, 2008), have documented hundreds of instances in which Texans with mental retardation were beaten, neglected and, in some instances, killed by the staff charged with caring for them. In the most famous incident, workers at the Corpus Christi State School recorded a “fight club” video in which mentally disabled residents were forced to beat each other.

The abuse scandal was rooted in years of under-funding by the Legislature. Low pay and astronomical staff turnover, which ran as high as 70 percent in some facilities, led the institutions to hire low-grade employees—and in a few instances convicted felons—who never should have been caring for vulnerable, and often volatile, residents.

Despite reforms passed in the past two legislative sessions—including a 12-percent funding increase and nearly 3,000 additional caregivers—the number of abuse and neglect cases remains high.

Confirmed cases of abuse in State Supported Living Centers rose 57 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to an Observer analysis of state data, from 458 incidents in 2007 to 719 last year.

In the first six months of fiscal year 2010, which began in September, confirmed cases of abuse and neglect have dipped by 19 percent. State Supported Living Centers are on pace to report 580 cases of abuse in 2010, which while lower than 2007’s peak, is still historically high.

For the full article, please click on the following link:

OH: Legal Society Files Complaint for Prone Restraint of Child with Autism; Staff Allegedly "Trained" in CPI

From Ohio Legal Rights Services:

LRS files complaint in case involving restraint of student with autism

May 3, 2010

Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Western Division seeking relief for an 11-year-old child with autism and developmental disabilities who was allegedly abused by his special education teacher and aide. The alleged abuse occurred in a classroom during a prone restraint.

LRS states in the complaint that all medical opinions conclude that the student was abused during the prone restraint. The extreme force and pressure applied during the restraint episode by the teacher and her aide caused intradermal hemorrhaging indicating the student's blood flow and oxygen were obstructed. The complaint alleges that the manner in which the teacher and the aide restrained the student was reckless and completely outside of any professionally acceptable method and was conducted in conscious disregard for the student's rights and safety.

The complaint claims the Defendants violated the student's rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by failing to protect the student's due process right to personal security and to be free from bodily harm at the hands of state actors, such as teachers, aides and administrators. The named Defendants include the teacher, classroom aide, school district, educational service center and all agencies, governing boards and personnel responsible for the implementation and supervision of the special education program.

A jury trial was requested by the Plaintiff. Read the complaint (PDF file)

For more information about restraint and seclusion in schools and LRS' work in this area, see the Restraint and Seclusion section.

FL: School Discipline Has Changed

Excerpt from

Published: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 7:08 a.m.

Three weeks ago, the Marion County School Board banned paddling from its menu of disciplinary measures in a move applauded by many educators, parents and disciplinary experts who say corporal punishment is less effective than methods that don't rely on force and intimidation.

They note that since the 1960s, educators enjoy a wider array of disciplinary tools tailored to address different kinds of student misconduct, including in-school suspension, alternative schools and deans of discipline.

But critics of the School Board's decision to abolish paddling say public school educators face more serious behavioral problems than ever before, and their ability to deal assertively with those problems has eroded over time.

For more information, please click on the following link:

NY: School board members must report child abuse in educational setting

Excerpt from New York State School Board Association:

On Board Online • April 26, 2010

By Pilar Sokol
Deputy General Counsel

In a ruling involving a school board member who heard an allegation of an improper contact between a district employee and a student, the commissioner of education urged a school district to make sure it provides In Board of Education for the City School District of the City of Elmira, the commissioner denied a request to remove the board member from office, but he advised her to comply strictly with mandatory reporting requirements in the future.

As a result of this decision, all school boards should review their training program on mandatory reporting requirements applicable to incidents of alleged child abuse in an educational setting and implement the program on an ongoing basis. Like other school mandatory reporters, board members should receive training on reporting compliance procedures.

The case arose after a school board member received third-hand information last fall that a school district employee allegedly had inappropriate contact with a student. She shared the information with another board member who notified the superintendent. The superintendent, in turn, commenced an investigation and contacted police.


The commissioner ruled the board failed to establish the board member’s actions warranted her removal.

Nonetheless, the commissioner “strongly” reminded the board member of the obligation of school board members to comply with the child abuse in an educational setting reporting requirements, and the “importance of strictly abiding” with those requirements in the future. The commissioner also urged the school board to make sure it provides training on such requirements on an ongoing basis.

For more information, please click on the following link:

Special Report: WebMD - Why Bullies Bully

Excerpt from

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Feature

The Phoebe Prince bullying case in South Hadley, Mass., has put bullying in the national spotlight. After months of alleged bullying by classmates that reportedly included verbal assaults, online harassment, and social exclusion, Prince, a 15-year-old high school student, took her own life.

Although most cases aren't as extreme, bullying takes its toll on children across the U.S. every day. For every 100 kids in middle school, eight are bullied every day, seven are bullied every week, and 33 are bullied once in a while, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


Building a Bully

Bullies seek power at someone else's expense. They harm that person over and over -- emotionally and/or physically -- to get it.

"It involves a more powerful person and a less powerful person, and is a form of aggression where one or more children repeatedly intimidate, harass, or harm a victim who cannot defend himself," says Robert Sege, MD, chief of ambulatory pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and a contributor to the American Academy of Pediatrics' updated policy on bullying.

Bullies are shaped, in part, by these factors:

  • Uncontrolled anger. "The No. 1 predictor of bullying behavior is anger, particularly in kids who have no way to manage it," says Dorothy Espelage, PhD, a professor and university scholar in the educational psychology department of the University of Illinois at Champaign. Angry kids, she says, are more likely to show bullying characteristics -- even if they have high self-esteem, and even toward their own siblings at home, which is often where bullying begins.
  • No consequences. If adults don't nip bullying behavior in the bud, it may worsen. "A lack of adult response early on in the bullying behavior emboldens bullies," says Peter Raffalli, MD, a child neurologist at Children's Hospital in Boston. "It fuels the bullies by basically saying to them that it's OK because the adults don't care, and aren't interjecting to put a stop to it."
  • Home life. Domestic violence, emotional and/or physical abuse, anger, and hostility at home -- directed at them or someone else -- can help build a bully.
  • Media and video games. Seeing bullying behavior in the media and video games can be a bad influence if it shows that behavior being rewarded.

Other factors include "low impulse control, a low frustration tolerance, a need to control or dominate, anger issues, an opposition toward authority, and aggressiveness, " Raffalli says.

For the full article, please click the following link:

MA: Governor Signs Anti-bullying Legislation

“Bullying is not a normal piece of childhood,’’ he said. “Emotional and physical abuse is more than, as they say, kids just being kids.’’

Excerpt from

Governor Deval Patrick signed an extensive antibullying law yesterday, as a family, still grieving an 11-year-old’s suicide, stood witness.

[Sirdeaner] Walker, a Springfield mother who has become a national advocate against bullying, said the law would be a legacy to her son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, as well as to Prince, a South Hadley student who hanged herself in January after ceaseless abuse from classmates.

The law, which advocates call one of the toughest in the nation, prohibits physical, emotional, and online taunting and mandates training for faculty and students. It requires school staff to notify parents about incidents and harassment under the umbrella of bullying behavior.


Patrick, surrounded by 30 third-graders from East Brookfield Elementary School, sounded a theme echoed by several officials who spoke about the new law: While new protections and reporting requirements are important in elevating the issue and giving tools to schools and families, he said, they alone will not solve the problem.

“Bullying is not a normal piece of childhood,’’ he said. “Emotional and physical abuse is more than, as they say, kids just being kids.’’


Walker praised the new law and said she is also working to pass federal legislation that would, among other things, focus on added protections and tracking for groups most often targeted, including gay and disabled students.

“This is not about criminalizing bullying, but about preventing bullying through education,’’ said Walker, who hugged and caressed her 7-year-old son, Charles, and 5-year-old daughter, Gloria, as they fidgeted through the 35-minute ceremony.

For the full story, please click the following link:

MD: Teacher's aide faces another abuse allegation

Excerpt from

May 4, 2010
By Darci Marchese,

OXON HILL, Md. - An Oxon Hill Middle School teacher's aide accused of assaulting a disabled child is facing another allegation of abuse.

Last month, the family of a mentally disabled 14-year-old boy said James Davis physically assaulted their son.

Now, attorney Bobby Henry says Davis also grabbed the arm of a girl with cerebral palsy in March.

The girl - who is also developmentally challenged - told Davis she needed to use the bathroom. After Davis told her she couldn't go, the girl approached a female teacher's aide, who gave her permission to leave.

When the girl tried to leave the classroom, Henry says Davis grabbed the girl's arm and, after an altercation, threw her to the floor.

Davis is the son of Oxon Hill Middle School Principal Sharif Salim.

Henry says Salim did not follow proper protocol in reporting the incident with the girl, as well as the alleged assault of the 14-year-old boy.

Henry wants a full investigation by the school board, as well as the state superintendent's office "to look into the treatment and the abuse of the young people who are attending Oxon Hill Middle School."


Davis is no longer working in the classroom. Salim has been placed on "personnel leave."

For more on this story, please click the following link: