Teacher Fired, Isolation Room Closed, Lawsuit Pending

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The following video (taken from a school surveillance tape) is a shocking report of videotaped abuse of a 14 year old boy who has autism.

This young boy cannot speak and is not able to explain what happens to him at school. He repeatedly arrives home with torn clothes and in January was taken to the emergency room with a broken finger.

The boy’s father said he was told everything at school was “going well, ” however, while they were at the emergency room the teacher had no explanation about how the injury occurred. The surveillance tape tells more of the story.

Mark Kamleiter, the parent’s attorney, said “the injury may have been an accident, but maintains the boy never should have been touched or placed in an isolation room in the first place.”

He adds, “Now is the time for everyone to stand up and say that this treatment of our children with disabilities must stop.

Link to the story on My Fox Tampa Bay is at http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/news/local/nature_coast/autism_abuse_lawsuit_081309

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18 Comments on "Teacher Fired, Isolation Room Closed, Lawsuit Pending"

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As an educator of children with severe autism, I have often had to use restraints for the childs own safety as well as my own. I have been punched, scratched, kicked, etc, as well as seen children violently slam their heads against walls or floors as behaviors. Despite this, I love my job and enjoy working with these children. School environment is different than the home in that we challenge students to perform academically, and I believe that in extreme cases, restraints are warranted for everyone’s safety and well being. But in all cases, parents are notified, it is in the BSP, and the staff is trained at least 2x per year in proper techniques. It is very sad that some awful educators care more about themselves than the children they are there to protect. No excuse for abuse, but not all of us are bad!!

My son with an autism spectrum disorder (very high functioning and verbal) was abused both physically and emotionally by his regular ed 5th grade teacher (s). SRS (social services) investigated and found he was abused. OCR (Office of Civil Rights) investigated and found that he was abused but not due to his disability (he was only child in his regular ed classroom with a severe disability and only child abused – so what else was it that caused him to be targeted?) The school district decided the teachers did not abuse our son (despite the state agency’s findings one did). The teacher remained teaching and our son was forced from his classroom and eventually his school due to anxiety, post traumatic stress caused by the abusive teachers. Abusive teachers remain teaching and no laws say they cannot while our son is forced away- crazy!

I am concerned my son is being abused in his class which is a special needs class for behavior control. My son is stating his teacher is grabbing him, pushing him, and talking very mean to him. The school is not listening to me. I feel the school is covering things up. Who can help me? Who can I talk to for help?

Melissa, my son is now in the 3rd grade and was physically abused in 1st grade 3 times once by the gym teacher putting his hands on my special needs Autistic child, 2nd time by his art teacher grabbing my son by the shoulder and leaving finger mark bruises on my son, 3rd time in the same day the art teacher abused my son; the school principal grabbed my son by the wrist and my son fell on the floor leaving bruises on his knees, elbow, and red fingers marks along with nail digs in my son’s arm where the principal grabbed him. Then in 2nd grade my son was in Lunch line and a teacher or aide grabbed my son – put his hands on him and left bruises on my son’s shoulder. I’ve filed Police reports, I’ve filed NYS Education Dept complaints, the OCR. Nothing and no one will do anything to protect.

After reading a few of these cases on Wrightslaw, I am shocked to think that this is going on in our country. I would like to know if there is an organization or agency that is collecting data on how frequently cases like this become public? Parents need more education about what signs to look for regarding abuse.

LeeAnn, Education / Schools are required by Law to file Incident Reports to the Dept of Education monthly, or quarterly. Those reports are kept confidential with the State and Local Field Offices of State Education Departments. It’s sad that when your child (my son) even has a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) the school is mandated by State Education to report back to me on a monthly basis how, who, what, where and when, the incident took place and they continue to tell me that my son is doing well in school but I get emails telling me Logan (my son) had an incident at school having a bad day. No one can MAKE the school(s) do anything but suspend, complete an incident report, and not notify the parent(s) – I get the phone call “Please come pick your son up”.

My daughter was also abused at school by her 4th math teacher. She now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because she was traumatized by her teacher. My child is dyslexic and she had a very hard time understanding her math word problems and the teacher would become very frustrated with her. When I also realized that she was jabbing her with a pencil, pulling her hair, and raising her hand with a ruler in her hand to pretend to hit her and strike the air, I reported her to Child Protective Services. CPS did their investigation and interviewed other students and verified what my daughter had said was correct they came back stating there was enough evidence of abuse. She suffered from emotional, physical, and verbal abuse. Yet the school failed to let her go because of this. So my daughter now has to take anti-anxiety meds.

Terry, You’re very lucky that the CPS agency will even do an investigation. Here in NYS Child Protective Agency will NOT investigate any allegation of Child Abuse in school because they tell me it’s not their “jurisdiction”. My son is also diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety, Panic – physically abused in 1st grade – but after a Forensic Interview with the local police – their report comes back and says – I as the parent coached my son. My son recalled every incident the 3 teachers and the principal did to him – in 1st grade – but the Local police still stated that my son was coached by me. Totally Inappropriate – then I contact the District Attorney and he tells me he’s not persuing any criminal charge against any teacher or admin staff at the school. State Education Dept won’t do anything.

I have a son that has a disorder it took me forever of fighting with the school district to even get an IEP. They finally decided to do something after my son had been in the hospital two times. I was called to the school, they said they could not control my child and I need to come and get. When I got there two school employees were holding my son down on the ground, holding his hands and head and the other was holding his feet. I was so upset at what they doing to my child. I moved them out of the way and put him in the chair and talked to and got him calmed down myself. A school full of adults with training can’t even calm a little boy down – something is wrong with that.

Kandee, I had the same incident with my son in 1st grade where a Student Resource officer and 4 other police officers were called to the school. I got there to pick my son up and the student resource officer was holding my son down in the corner of the gym with both hands, and both legs against my son’s body. He couldn’t even move at all. Abuse of Power. Then I get there and I’m told to control my son because control starts in the home. Like I’m a bad parent. I’m the one that can settle him down / calm him. The Student Officer released my son and he had a Panic / Anxiety attack for the first time ever. I removed my son with 4 police standing around me telling me to leave or I would be arrested for Trespassing.

I have an autistic child that was a victim of Child Abuse in the school district. use of restraints seclusion and isolation. I would love to have all information on any cases we are preparring for trail.

Sheila

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/seclusion/index.html

No one will do anything but investigate – then they will come back and say that parenting starts in the home – but they don’t want to be accused of any abuse at all onto our children. District Atty, won’t do anything, Local police won’t do anything, NYS Dept of Ed. Won’t do anything, Only way to go is file a complaint with the OCR on the federal level. I’m finding out. That’s where you will get results.

Teachers & staff are NOT qualified to handle these kids, they don’t have a clue what they are doing, and wonder why they can’t control them. They all need need to go thru vigorous training before dealing w/ the special needs kids! My heart goes out to you, to the boy & his family.

I thought “isolation” rooms were used for criminals. Since when is it a crime to be disabled? My son has asperger’s and has been verbally and sometimes physically abused. I usually don’t find out about it until much later. He is not very verbal. School administrators need to become more accountable for their actions and monetary damages is the only way they will learn! I hope this case paves the way for all kinds of abuse that the disabled suffer, especially in school.

If this is happening to special needs children, who knows what is happening to children without disabilities…My daughter’s school, it turns out, has an isolation room, in elementary school..and my son has a disability so I wont be putting him in any school since I found out that schools are resorting to these types of actions! These schools need to have them removed and when a child is acting out, it would be in the best interest of the child and school to contact the parents. Child abuse is child abuse. Teachers need better training, and should get better training in how to teach children, special needs or not! What has the educational system coming to??

Off this topic but typical attitude toward disabled kids via state ed depts:

NYSED: Sex abuse of children who are too disabled to consent to a sex act are not listed as reportable offenses http://tinyurl.com/nt76bv

I hope that this lawsuit is not side tracked by politics and a new standard is set for all schools to follow.

In 2004, my son was injured by a school staff member and sent to the emergency room by ambulance.

I attempted to work it out with the Director of Special Services for our public school district, and not let the public know what had happened.

I can’t help but wonder if things would have been different for this child had I done exactly what his parents are doing….

Maybe this is the case that will put an immediate stop to kids being unfairly punished and abused by staff that is not knowledgeable in the special needs of these children.

Schools need to follow our laws and the intent of our laws. My daughter is disabled through a health impairment. She was intimidated and exhibited signs of emotional abuse from school staff. She was not the only one — yet the school continued on a path that harmed her. However, she can speak and so we do. She has left her gifted magnet school and found a safe one. I know it is a very difficult and painful concept for readers to believe, but with video: Seeing is believing. There are solutions to help our teachers and children.

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