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Sarasota schools again try to fire teacher O’Neill

Some teachers can abuse children with disabilities with no consequences.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida – More than three years after they first tried to fire teacher Diana O’Neill, Sarasota school district leaders may again be frustrated in their latest attempt to dismiss the embattled teacher who was disciplined for abusing profoundly disabled students.

The latest attempt comes after the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed a state panel’s decision to suspend O’Neill’s teaching certificate for two months. Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White mailed O’Neill a termination letter on June 20 stating she will ask the School Board to fire her at its July 24 meeting.

But O’Neill could thwart that move, at least temporarily, by requesting yet another administrative hearing or protesting the decision through the district’s grievance process, a move that would keep her in her $77,000 a year job possibly for several more months.

Read full story.



Previous 10 special needs of special needs parents

Great blog from a mom raising a child with a disability.  Check out her blog on

“As a mother to two little girls who have Down syndrome, I need parents of typically developing kids to know something.

I have needs.”

Read more.


Parents Sue Fort Bend Special Ed Teacher Accused of Abuse

Two Fort Bend County families are suing their children’s former special education teacher months after allegations surfaced that she put a child with autism in a filing cabinet, ripped another’s hair out of her head and behaved erratically in the classroom.

Julie Gosch, 47, who had taught at Juan Seguin Elementary since 2003, resigned this year. Two teacher’s aides who worked with her sent emails to the school administrators, alleging neglect and inappropriate and abusive behavior.

Attorneys for the families provided the Chronicle with what they said were the emails, which claimed Gosch called her students “retarded,” saying “you guys are losers” and taught the aides to “accidentally” hit the children.

After aides came forward in January, the Fort Bend Independent School District and its police department investigated the allegations. Officials said Gosch’s last day of work was Jan. 27, the day the aides came forward with the written statements.

Fort Bend ISD officials said the teacher has not been the subject of any previous allegations of abuse.

Read more.

Andre McCollins – a person with a developmentally disability is tortured.

Previously posted on View From The Darkside of the Moon.

Stand up for disability rights: Demand the video of Andre McCollins’s torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center

Cases of abuse of people with developmental disabilities are not new, but sadly, they rarely make the news. This week, we heard about a mother who is trying to obtain the surveillance video footage of her son’s 2002 torture at the hands of the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. Cheryl McCollins wants to publicize the video of what happened to her son, but the JRC obtained a court order sealing the video.

In 2002, Andre McCollins refused to take off his jacket when asked by a JRC staff member. In response, he was tied to a restraint board face-down with a helmet on his head. They kept him there for seven hours without one break — for food, water, or to use the bathroom. Whenever Andre screamed or tensed up, staff administered an electric shock for a total of 31 times. After three days in a comatose state, Andre was taken to Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with acute stress response, which is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by the electric shocks.

The JRC’s lawyers asked the courts to seal the video of Andre’s torture because, according to them, the public won’t understand it outside of “context.” There is absolutely no context that can justify torture.

Even in cases with individuals with the most severe behavior problems, there are programs at other institutions with proven efficacy in reducing dangerous behaviors without using electric shocks or depriving students of food. Although experts in the developmental disabilities field have testified repeatedly against the JRC, you don’t have to be an expert to understand that what happened to Andre is torture. But the JRC doesn’t want you to believe that. They will continue to get away with their abusive practices unless someone lets the public see the video of what they did to Andre in the name of treatment.

This incident may have happened ten years ago, but the wounds are still raw and gaping. Andre hasn’t forgotten what happened to him, and neither has his mother. Andre will have no justice for as long as the JRC can bury the video of what they did to him. At its heart, this is a human rights issue. Those in positions of authority have a moral obligation to protect the rights of people like Andre against the interests of the JRC, and to let this video become public so that Andre can finally have justice. The video of his torture at the JRC needs to be released to the public, and it needs to be released now.

You can read about Andre’s story here:

The JRC is the only institution in America that still uses electric shock aversives as a means of “therapy” for its residents. Their aversive interventions also include food deprivation, restraint, and seclusion. The United Nations condemned the JRC’s practices, and the U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into their activities in 2010 after several reports of the activities of the JRC. For close to three decades, advocates have tried to close the institution, but have repeatedly failed to successfully pass legislation to end the use of aversives. Massachusetts’s Department of Developmental Services enacted regulations in late 2011 that prohibit the use of the electric shocks on any newly admitted student, but which grandfather in any student who was court-approved to receive the shocks before their enactment. The JRC is still operating, and for them, it’s business as usual. They don’t want the public to see what they do, because they know that the public will know intuitively and correctly that what they do is not treatment; it’s torture.

Advocates of disability rights who oppose restraint, seclusion, and aversives have long held that restraint, seclusion, and aversives are ONLY appropriate as a one-time, temporary and emergency response to a specific situation, as a last resort, where there is an immediate and imminent threat of harm to self or others. In this respect, aversives can be necessary as a last resort and as an emergency and temporary measure. They have no proven efficacy in the long-term to reduce and eliminate problematic behaviors such as self-harm or hurting others or destroying property. If they did, then why would some JRC residents still be there after five or ten years, or more, and still have the same behavioral profile, and still be receiving the electric shocks? The answer is that they wouldn’t. The JRC claims that its techniques save lives; this is misleading and dangerous. Aversives have no efficacy as a long-term treatment, and can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and otherwise be very emotionally damaging to people subjected to their use.

You can read more about the JRC and restraint and seclusion and aversives issues at including reports from a number of government and non-profit organizations.

The abuse and torture of the disabled must stop.

Keep squeaking those wheels.


Students Traumatized in Special Education Across America, Seclusion, Restraint, and Aversives

From Georgia:Families Against Restraint And Seclusion

Students Traumatized in Special Education Across America, Seclusion, Restraint, and Aversives Scream Rooms when will America say enough is enough?
Published on January 18, 2012 by Kymberly Grosso in Autism in Real Life

A urine soaked scream room. A child stuffed in a duffel bag. Vinegar soaked cotton balls put in a child’s mouth. Slapped on the head with plastic bottles. Child dragged through a playground across asphalt with pants down. Shoved to the floor and dead from asphyxiation. Handcuffed and duct-taped. Degraded. Dehumanized. Traumatized. Mob stories? No, it is just a scratch of the surface of what has happened to children in special education in the past year. Not in a third world country, but here in America.

Read more.

More on “Scream Rooms”

From the West Hartford News.  A reporter who is the mom of a special needs student.

“They are essentially jail cells — most of them can only be opened from the outside — and most are smaller than a walk-in closet, painted white and with bright lights, the kind that only exacerbate sensory issues in kids with autism and other special needs. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 wailing away in the room as class is in session just a few feet way. (I wonder if it’s disconcerting to the other special needs kids in class.) For those with poor reasoning and coping skills, hearing others in the room creates constant anxiety that is bound to make them act up and get put in the room.”

Read the entire article.

The abuse of our children with special needs and disabilities has to stop.  We need to keep making noise – keep squeaking those wheels.




Scream Rooms In Connecticut Schools

Scream Room

Scream Room

Children with disabilities being placed in seclusion in public schools across the country including here in Florida.  The students in Connecticut have dubbed them “Scream Rooms.”

Horrible – but true!

Officials: ‘Scream rooms’ common in Connecticut schools

APD Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget

From our friend Aaron Nangel.

Statement on Governor’s Budget Proposal by  Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Mike Hansen.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is very pleased with Governor Scott’s budget proposal released recently.

The governor has once again shown that being fiscally responsible does not mean lessening our commitment to the state’s most vulnerable citizens, said APD Director Mike Hansen.

This budget proposal increases recurring General Revenue funding by $26 million to meet the needs of the 30,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities currently receiving services under the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver.

Also included is $83 million in additional funding to cover the current projected shortfall in waiver funding, said Hansen. “The governor’s proposal also requires the agency to tighten its belt and find greater efficiencies by reducing positions and funding for administration,” said Hansen.

See the Governor’s budget proposal.

Note there is no mention of the Wait List.

We can never stop squeaking our wheels.


19,000 Or More Florida Disabled on Med Waiver Waiting List

Headline from an online news source.

19,000 reported on Florida Developmental Disabilities (DD) waiting list.

This is not news or anything new.  The disabled have been under served for many years.  Under served is a polite way to the say that the State of Florida is ignoring the needs of the disabled. By their actions it is evident that Florida and its legislators would prefer the disabled just disappear – go away – stop existing and stop being such a problem.

19,000 is a large number to ignore and leave with no services.

What the State of Florida – What Rick Scott – What the Legislature – do not realize is that they will not go away.  They will keep drawing attention to the needs of the most vulnerable citizens in Florida.

One day and I hope it is soon – the citizens of Florida will insist that the disabled no longer be ignored.

In the meantime we will keep squeaking our wheels.  They can not ignore us forever.


Mommy, I Wish I Could Tell You What They Did To Me In School Today

Mommy, I Wish I Could Tell You What They Did To Me In School Today

By Richard S. Stripp, Sr.

The children and adult characters in this book are based on students and individuals that the author has interacted with and/or worked with directly.
The majority of children who “speak” in this book are non-verbal. Their words which you will read are fictitious and were never spoken by them but are based on actual events that occurred in their lives. It is the author’s belief that if the non-verbal children in this book could speak, what you are about to read is what they might have said.
Any conversations between the author and anyone in the book are based on actual events and conversations.
An excerpt from the book:
“I can’t believe that Mom is making me go to school again today. Doesn’t she know what they do to me there? Doesn’t she love me anymore? “Adam, you hid your shoes again. This isn’t funny. It’s time for school.” Yeah, I know it’s time for school; I don’t want to go, that’s why I hid my shoes.
Man, I wish I could speak. I wish I could tell Mommy what they did to me at school yesterday. I wish I could tell Mommy how it makes me feel to be treated like that. If she only knew, there is no way she’d make me go there today. I bet Daddy would beat them up.
The day started like most days. They took me off of the school bus and strapped me into that stupid wooden chair. My pull-up was soaked with pee but they didn’t even check. I just had to sit in it until I wet through. Then, the yelling began. Like it’s my fault I had to go to the bathroom again. I was trying to tell them. Kept on touching my private area; what did they think I was saying? “That’s disgusting, Adam. Knock it off!” Knock what off? I’m soaked. I’d change myself if I could, but I can’t.
Three hours stuck in this chair without being able to move and now they want me to stand up. My legs are so sore and stiff. I know my cerebral palsy isn’t as bad as Jimmy’s but I wish I didn’t have it at all. There’s no way I can stand right now but they’re pulling me, yanking me by my arms out of the chair. Yelling, yelling, more yelling. Sorry teacher, I can’t do it. The yelling hurts my ears. The chair is kicked away by the teacher and I get thrown to the ground. All of the aides and assistants just watch, listen and do nothing to help me. How can they just stand there? Why won’t someone help me? I need help. I can’t stand, I’m sorry. I’m trying, but I can’t. Now, when all the other kids are watching television during free time, I’ll have to sit in the corner again, facing the wall. I hate that.”
Sad but true and this is not an isolated incident.