Standing in Our Own Shoes by Tricia & Calvin Luker

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Senate Hearing on Restraint and Seclusion:  “Beyond Seclusion and Restraint:  Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students.”

Postponed until Thursday, July 12, 2012, 10:30 AM, Location TBA. June 28, 2012, 10:00 AM, Room Dirksen 106  

The hearings will be broadcast live at  .  Witnesses expected to testify have strong expertise in the use of positive supports in place of restraint and seclusion.


The phrase in loco parentis, which means “in the place of a parent,” is the common law legal doctrine that permits school personnel and others who have intermittent control over children to make decisions or to otherwise control those children in the absence of their parents.

This means that when our children are in settings in which their education and play are supervised by others, those adults acting as supervisors have both the right and the responsibility to engage in some direction and discipline of the children while standing in the shoes of the parent.

We read a number of stories every day that describe situations in which school personnel have assaulted, restrained or secluded students with disabilities in educational environments.

We are stunned by the number of incidents and angered by how difficult it is to prosecute or discipline the offenders. It is not right that children with disabilities should be so vulnerable at school.

If one of our children arrived at school with a handprint on his or her face, school officials would report us for abuse, as well they should.

But if one of our children came home from school with a handprint on his or her face, there is no one we could report it to who would actually do anything about it.

The most likely outcome of any such reporting would be for the child protection agency to say that it has no authority to investigate and for the police to say that no crime has been committed.

Recent stories have described school personnel putting kids in duffel bags, large boxes, closets and duct taped or tied into chairs. The people who are doing this to our children are supposed to be standing in our shoes in our absence. We would never do these things to our own children, or to any child.

  • How are they standing in our shoes in our absence, and where is Congress?
  • Why hasn’t Congress acted?
  • Why is there no agency that will hold these people accountable in the same way that we would be held accountable?
  • What is so controversial about not allowing our children with disabilities to be abused in schools by school personnel?

The cost of waiting is the drip, drip, drip of half a dozen new stories every day describing some form of abuse of our children with disabilities that we, as parents, would never do.

We have heard stories and have been involved in cases in which school personnel have called child protection agencies to retaliate against parents who are strong advocates for their children. They do so to rattle the parent, to try to shift the focus from their conduct to the parent’s conduct or to draw another agency into the process that can take their position over the parent’s position.

This dirty trick is used to get even and to distract the parents from the primary objective of advocating for their children’s educational needs and safety. How ironic that the schools can use child protection agencies for intimidation yet at the same time we parents have no remedy when abusive school personnel “stand in the place of a parent.”

We need Congress to act now to end this dreadful abuse.

Here are the primary sources to read about how our children and their families are being abused in our nation’s schools:

Here are the links to the Senate and House bills.

Senate Bill S. 2020

House Bill H.R. 1381

Please share this blog article far and wide and continue to urge your elected officials to co-sponsor and pass both the House Bill H.R. 1381 and the Senate Bill S. 2020

Written by Tricia and Calvin Luker

Copyright 2012 by Tricia and Calvin Luker. Permission to forward, copy and post this article is granted so long as it is attributed to the authors and

The OCLB Team

Sandy Strassman-Alperstein, Deidre Hammon, Jackie Igafo-Te’o Shari Krishnan, and Calvin and Tricia Luker, along with self advocates Benji Alperstein, Daniel Alperstein, Hannah Alperstein, Rachel Alperstein, Brianna Hammon, Melody Igafo-Te’o, Michael Igafo-Te’o, Sebastian Igafo-Te’o and Nicholas Krishnan

  1. One year ago my child with autism, who is in a self-contained classroom, came home and asked her grandmother to draw a picture of her teacher duct taping her arms so she wouldn’t put her finger in her nose. After reporting this to the proper indiviuals at her school we found out nothing would be done. Teacher denied this type of restraint and school officials stated after an investigation ” it
    didn’t happen. Soon after the retailiation began by the school. It continues a year later. As a result of this incident we found out there were no laws to protect children from abuse by teachers at school. This legislation is an absolute must for our school-aged children with disabilities . Our family will certainly be contacting our legislators in Alabama.

  2. We The People need to stand up for ALL kids – please call or write your federal legislators and make a real difference! Congress needs to act NOW!

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