Monday, October 11, 2010

KY: Caregiver Charged After Beating Caught on Video


POSTED: 4:44 pm EDT September 28, 2010
UPDATED: 6:39 pm EDT September 28, 2010

The mother of a 13-year-old disabled boy who suspected his caregiver was abusing him said a hidden nanny-cam confirmed her suspicion.

Bereket Haile is charged with first-degree criminal abuse.

"The first time he does, it is a single blow; thereafter, he'll just go up to the child and hit him three, four times consecutively," said Detective Charles Peck, describing the alleged abuse in court Tuesday.

Haile was the in-home sitter sent to Penny and Gary Harbin's home to take care of their son, Kris, who is severely autistic, has seizures and can't speak.

The Harbins said a nanny-cam hidden in a stuffed animal caught Haile hitting their son multiple times.

Peck told the court what happened when he asked Haile to come in for questioning after viewing the tape himself.

"We did sit down and we talked, and during that process, he denied hitting the victim, but when I played him the tape that I viewed, he said what he did was wrong and he shouldn't have done it," Peck said.

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FL: Florida 'gutted' child restraint bill of most important protections, mother of restrained child says

From The Palm Beach News:


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 11:59 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010

Posted: 11:48 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010

Port Orange Republican Dorothy Hukill's legislation restricting seclusion and restraint of Florida schoolchildren earned the state representative national notice.

"Florida was going to be the model for other states to follow," said Lori Mcllwain, a spokeswoman for the 10,000-member American Autism Association.

By the time it got to the governor's desk, though, Hukill's bill was stripped of its toughest provision: Instead of banning prone restraint, the bill was altered to bar restraint that can restrict a child's breathing.

"They took a good bill that had protective language for children with disabilities and gutted the bill, took out all the safety precautions," said Phyllis Musumeci, a mother whose son was forcibly held in a prone restraint more than 20 times at a Palm Beach County school. The Autism Association agreed: In a 180-degree turn, the group urged a letter writing campaign to persuade Gov. Charlie Crist to veto the bill.

"Was it as strong as I would have liked it to be? No," said Hukill of the new law, which took effect this year. "Am I delighted that we are finally addressing the problem? Absolutely."


Even so, parts of the new law may not be as effective as hoped. Take training. Provisions call for enhanced training to offset risk. When it comes to prone restraint, though, Ohio's search of national literature doesn't support that idea, said Michael Rench, Ohio Rehabilitative Services Commission Administrator. Ohio last year banned prone restraint by most government employees, including teachers. "Everything we found was that it just is not safe even when applied by well-trained individuals," he said. As an example, Mark Kamleiter, a St. Petersburg lawyer and former public school behavioral specialist said prone restraint frequently calls for two or more people to apply force. One person may know the amount of force he is applying, but wouldn't necessarily know how much force the other person is applying. "You can hurt the child by accident," he points out.

For instance, 12-year-old Michael Wiltsie died in an Ocala youth camp in 2000 after a counselor pinned him to the ground. A grand jury found that the counselor was following proper procedures.

"You cannot train a person how to safely do a prone restraint," said Barbara Trader, executive director of TASH, a Washington advocacy group for people with disabilities. "It's not possible."

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ME: Classroom crises - How does a teacher respond?

From the Portland Press Herald:

October 11, 2010

A group of city educators gets training to defuse situations when students become angry or upset.

By Kelley Bouchard
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Peter McCormack moves around the room as if the information he's about to share can't wait to get out.

In front of him are 17 Portland teachers, education technicians, social workers and others who have signed up for a three-day training course in how to use Therapeutic Crisis Intervention techniques in school.

Some of them will stay for a fourth day to learn how to do physical restraints or holds, a controversial practice allowed in Maine schools when students are in danger of hurting themselves or others and all other efforts to calm them have failed.

"You are the best tool in any crisis situation," McCormack tells the teachers. "There are so many things you can do before resorting to physical intervention. Restraint truly is the intervention of last resort."

McCormack invited The Portland Press Herald to cover a recent training session in the hope of shedding light on a practice that is being scrutinized here in Maine and across the nation. Pressure is on to reduce the use of restraints, and many Maine schools are responding with increased training in alternative intervention methods and positive student supports.

In general, the methods call for building personal relationships with students, setting clear expectations for behavior, recognizing when and why students may be struggling or acting out, and responding with logic and compassion rather than anger and contempt.

"When a child is upset, it didn't happen out of nowhere, folks," McCormack says during the first day of training. "There's always a cause. It may not be right in front of you, but it's there. You have to know your child. And depending on your response, you're either going to throw gasoline on the situation or you're going to throw water on the situation."


Superintendent Jim Morse has charged McCormack and East End Principal Marcia Gendron, also newly appointed from her former job as principal of Reiche Community School, with greatly reducing the number of restraints at East End.

"More often than not, the use of restraint only escalates a situation," Morse said. "Our goal is to keep kids in school and keep them learning. We want teachers to have the skill sets in their toolbox to de-escalate disruptive situations and help youngsters refocus."

Morse said he wants to reduce the overall number of physical restraints in Portland schools, which last year included seven at Longfellow Elementary School, four at Riverton Community School, three at Lyseth Elementary School and two at Moore Middle School. Nine other Portland public schools reported no restraints.

Moreover, Morse said, he wants all Portland schools to have a more positive and personal approach to behavior and discipline. With that in mind, he's moving to adopt a federally endorsed system known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports across Maine's largest school district.

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KY: School systems review corporal punishment policy

Published: Monday, October 11, 2010 at 5:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 6:49 p.m.

Two school boards revised a disciplinary policy this week regarding corporal punishment.

The Davidson County and Thomasville City school systems upgraded their “School Plan for Management of Student Behavior” to bring it into compliance with N.C. House Bill 1682, which legislators recently passed and will be effective this school year.

Lexington City Schools prohibits corporal punishment for all students, with the policy stating other consequences are more appropriate and effective for teaching self-control.

The revision for the county and Thomasville touches on administering corporal punishment to students who are classified as having a disability. It states the punishment may not be given to disabled students whose parents or guardians have not given permission. Parents are given a permission form at the start of the school year.

“There have to be very special precautions before any kind of corporal punishment is to be administered,” said Dr. Fred Mock, superintendent of Davidson County Schools. “We took a look at the entire corporal punishment policy. We do not prohibit it.”

Thomasville City Schools went a step above the state policy and added a section in which corporal punishment will only take place if a parent signs a statement giving permission to the administrator and the parent or guardian has to be present.

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FL: Pinned down - Palm Beach County schoolchildren subdued with risky restraint


Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

Updated: 11:12 a.m. Monday, Oct. 11, 2010

Posted: 9:06 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010

    A phone call tipped off Darlene Foster that something had gone wrong at Lantana Middle School.

"If this was my child, I would want to know," an anonymous teacher warned her. "They're restraining your son."

Foster and her husband raced to the school to find 12-year-old Joshua held down by five men. Two had pinned his arms to a mat, two held down his legs, and another had his knee in the back of the 80-pound boy, who has a curved spine.

Joshua, who also has autism and cerebral palsy, had refused to go to art class and would not move from the school courtyard.

Joshua was subjected to an especially harsh form of prone restraint, a maneuver in which the child is held face down until he stops struggling.

So risky that six states have banned it outright in schools, prone restraint remains legal in Florida: Palm Beach County schools have used it on disabled students more than 1,500 times since 2007, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis. Most were elementary schoolchildren. Some were in pre- kindergarten.


Prone restraint is used to immobilize an out-of-control student. Typically, two or three adults pull a student from a standing position down to a mat or other surface onto his stomach, and hold his limbs down.

It's almost exclusively used with special education students.

Injury can occur several ways. Adults may accidentally compress a child's chest, cutting off his air supply: A Cornell University study cited asphyxia in 28 deaths of children or teens after prone restraint. Because the child is face down, it can be hard to see signs of distress. Improperly applied pressure can bruise, or break a bone. Students with cardiac or respiratory conditions such as asthma are at special risk of injury or death.

"The national research was just overwhelming," said Michael Rench, Ohio Rehabilitative Services Commission administrator and a player in Ohio's decision to ban prone restraint. "We could not imagine why we would do that to people. It just was not defensible."

Even absent physical harm, a child's experience of being pushed to the ground and forcibly held can trigger emotional trauma that shows up as depression, increased anger and fearfulness, according to studies by national disability rights groups.

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FL: Teacher Suspended, 2 Charged After "Special Needs" Student Bullied


October 11, 2010

A 12-year-old boy was bullied and humiliated so badly at Holly Hill Middle School that he ended up in a corner, crying uncontrollably. After an attack in a gym locker room, his gym teacher has been suspended from school and two students were charged with misdemeanors.

The incident moved beyond verbal and physical abuse. The boys are accused of using a cell phone to take a picture of the victim, forwarding it to others, and shouting, "Put it on the Internet!"

It was after a middle school gym class last Tuesday, sheriff reports say, that a sixth-grade special needs student had his pants pulled down, shirt pulled up and was photographed by four school bullies.

"When they told me something happened in the locked room, boys were bullying him, I just cut him off, said I'll be right there," said Melissa Jones, the victim's mother.

Jones said Monday the incident has left her son traumatized. The boy, who was on suicide watch after a bullying incident last year, tried to return to school, but couldn't make it through the day.

Two of his classmates are now charged with battery and disorderly conduct for the incident, and the school district sent their teacher, Wayne Wheeler, home on paid leave. The allegation is that Wheeler wasn't watching the students as he should have been.

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