From a post on www.theviewfromthedarksideofthemoon.com
Tag Archive for abuse
More school districts and states are looking at cameras as a way to protect children with disabilities in our schools.
It is sad that we have to resort to monitoring or spying on teachers to ensure they do not abuse the children they are supposed to be caring for and teaching.
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.
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.
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.
ATLANTA (CN) – Parents claim two special education teachers assaulted and battered their disabled son so badly he died from the abuse.
Ronald and Arthalia Hatcher sued the Fulton County School District, the Fulton County School Board, Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa, special education teachers Melanie Pickens and Katherine Dorn Durden, and 15 other Fulton County public school employees, in Fulton County State Court.
The Hatchers say their son Aaron, a special-needs student, suffered abuse at the hands of his public schoolteachers, Pickens and Durden.
“Aaron suffered from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities,” the complaint states. “As a result of his disabilities, Aaron could not walk or talk, and had other serious developmental issues and was unable to care for himself and required constant care and supervision.”
The Hatchers say they enrolled Aaron in public school to give him “as normal a life as possible.”
But they say instead of caring for him, Aaron’s middle school and high school teachers abused him physically and emotionally.
They claim Pickens confined Aaron in isolated places, physically restrained him and screamed at and berated him to punish him for “expressing himself,” and that Durden placed a homemade neck brace around his neck to restrain him.
“Unfortunately, the Hatchers’ trust was misplaced,” the complaint states. “Unbeknownst to plaintiffs, Aaron began suffering abuse within Fulton County schools as far back as 2004. From 2004 to 2007, Aaron was a student at Hopewell Middle school, where he was in defendant Melanie Pickens’ classroom.
“Ms. Pickens abused Aaron and other special needs students in her classroom physically, verbally and emotionally. Ms. Pickens’ conduct was investigated and her treatment of students was known to the school board. Nevertheless, plaintiffs were not made aware by the Fulton County School District of the abuse suffered by their son.
“Unfortunately, escaping Hopewell Middle School did not mean Aaron’s abuse would end. Aaron suffered still more abuse at the hands of his special education teacher at Roswell High School, defendant Katherine Dorn Durden. It was while Aaron was in Mrs. Durden’s class that the plaintiffs first became aware that Aaron had been mistreated at Hopewell Middle School.
“While in Mrs. Durden’s class, Aaron came home with bruises on his back and hands, making it clear that he was not being properly secured in his chair. Further, and without parental or medical consent, Mrs. Durden took it upon herself to twist and then constrain Aaron’s neck in a makeshift neck brace apparently because she did not like the way Aaron was forced to twist his neck in order to breathe. While a student in Mrs. Durden’s class, Aaron was repeatedly rushed to the hospital from school as a result of the abuse.
“Plaintiffs repeatedly sent messages to the school about Mrs. Durden. They requested that Aaron be moved into a different special education class and had meetings with the principal, all to no avail.
“Tragically, Aaron died on March 19, 2011 following the abuse he suffered at Roswell High School. Further compounding this tragedy, plaintiffs only found out about the earlier abuse by Ms. Pickens after Aaron’s death, despite the fact that the Fulton County School District had previously completed their own internal investigation which confirmed the acts of abuse against Aaron in middle school. Had they known, as school board personnel knew, that their extremely fragile son had suffered such abuse within a Fulton County school’s special education class, they would never have allowed him to enter Roswell High School, and Aaron might still be alive today. The teachers, paraprofessionals, medical personnel, administrators, and board members of the Fulton County School District repeatedly failed Aaron Hatcher and his parents, and the Hatchers have paid the ultimate price.”
The Hatchers claim: “Defendants knew or should have known that defendant Melanie Pickens had no training or other credentials equipping her to teach students with severe special needs and that she was routinely and systematically abusing the children in her classroom,” but failed to act.
They add: “It is nearly impossible to put into words the utter and complete terror Aaron must have felt as he was screamed at, isolated, and berated by defendant Melanie Pickens or how terrified he must have been when defendant Katherine Dorn Durden repeatedly cut off his airway with her homemade neck brace.”
The Hatchers seek compensatory and punitive damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent hiring and retention, constitutional violations, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and Georgia laws.
They are represented by Jarrod Oxendine, with Oxendine and Sauls.
Keep squeaking those wheels.
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: http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/undercover/teen-tied-and-shocked-for-hours-mom-calls-it-torture-20120219
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 http://www.autismeducationproject.org including reports from a number of government and non-profit organizations.
The abuse and torture of the disabled must stop.
Keep squeaking those wheels.
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.
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.”
The abuse of our children with special needs and disabilities has to stop. We need to keep making noise – keep squeaking those wheels.
By Richard S. Stripp, Sr.
You can abuse and neglect the disabled at an Assisted Living Facility in Florida – and you can still continue to run or work at the facility. Yes, that is true. There is no statute or administrative rule that prevents someone who has been held responsible for the abuse, neglect or even death of a resident of an ALF from being banned from running or working at an ALF.
Couple this with the fact that Governor Scott fired the head of the Long Term Ombudsman Council for being too aggressive in pursing complaints against Florida Nursing Homes and other care facilities – and being disabled or aged in Florida can be dangerous to your health.
Rick Scott has formed a panel to look into the possibilities that care facilities for the aged and disabled may be harming our citizens. Of course this is the same man who put the owner of a large chain of nursing homes in charge of the entity responsible to oversee and handle complaints from nursing homes. The foxes are running the hen house. We can expect no more from any commission that our Governor sets up.
The Miami Herald ran a series called Neglected to Death. This investigated and documented numerous cases of abuse in our ALF’s and nursing homes.
This series ran in May and our vulnerable elderly and disabled are still without adequate protection.
At one time the State of Florida had the Human Rights Council and later the Florida Local Advocacy Council to oversee complaints and conditions in facilities for the disabled and elderly. These were volunteers with no vested interested who gave of their time to inspect and investigate complaints and conditions. They reported to the Governor’s office.
However, like the Ombudsman Council they were too aggressive and found too many problems with facilities that provided care to the vulnerable in our state. Two years ago the council was abolished. We no longer have a third party organization, or any organization for that matter, concerned with Human Rights Violations.
Being old or vulnerable in Florida can be hazardous to your health.
Governor Scott step up and appoint a third party organization to review Human Rights Violations. It needs to be an organization of volunteers who have no vested or monetary interest in Nursing Homes, ALF’s or other facilities.
Make Florida a safe place for our elderly, disabled and vulnerable citizens.
Keep squeaking those wheels.
Previously posted on View From The Dark Side Of The Moon blog.