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Update on Witte v. Clark County Board of Education Case
In our Alert about the Witte v. Clark County case (December 3, 1999), we posed several questions. Who knew about these practices? When did they know? It seemed impossible that this abuse could take place unless other people knew but looked the other way.
Clark County Public Schools are in Las Vegas Nevada. On Saturday, we spent a couple of hours in the archives of the Las Vegas Sun. During this cursory investigation, we learned about events that answered some of our questions in this troubling case. Here is a short list culled from the archives of Las Vegas Sun:
Illegal actions included "document destruction by top-level administrators, illegally drafted individual education plans [IEPs], violations of placement policies, improper counseling programs and a boondoggle in adaptive physical education." (Las Vegas Sun, July 21, 1996)
Use of "Aversive Discipline"
"Also under fire is CCSD's 'aversive behavior management' which authorizes personnel to force restless pupils onto treadmills and strap weights to their ankles to limit motion." ("Special education report set to explode?" Las Vegas Sun, July 21, 1996)
The director of special education threatened to sue a parent advocate on claims of defamation and conspiracy. The advocate's crime? She wrote a letter to the School Board about intimidation and civil rights violations. ("Former chief threatens to sue parent," Las Vegas Sun, June 28, 1996)
These assertions about intimidation were substantiated by the auditors who found that:
"Staff were ordered to change records, keep information out of a file, and/or not speak to anyone about the issue."
"Organizational paralysis is evident in the division. Staff often fear reprisal for their actions." ("Passages from the special education report," Las Vegas Sun, June 27,1996)
In 1998, at least one parent testified before a committee of state legislators about "aversive discipline" of her seven year old child who was a special education student in Clark County. "The legislators said they were deeply troubled and discussed finding out how common [her] story might be." "There is a clear line between abuse and strict discipline, several lawmakers said." ("Special education faces more hurdles," Las Vegas Sun, April 1, 1998)
One more thing. Clark County has been under OCR supervision since 1991.
And the beat goes on.
NOTE: To get copies of these and other articles about special education in Clark County, go to the Las Vegas Sun site and search through their archives.