The outrage concerning diminishing services in special education has recently surfaced in in three different places—Chicago, Fairfield, CT, and the State of Alabama. There are interesting similarities, and these places are certainly not alone when it comes to special education cuts.
NOTE: If you would like to share what is happening to special education where you live, let me know. Feel free to comment. Or, I will post it. You can also write about it if you would like. I won’t use your name unless you give me permission. Let’s put together all the scenarios and shenanigans surrounding harmful special education cuts and how they are hurting children and families. What are the similarities? How are parents pushing back?
Also, if you know of attorneys who deal with special education cases, let me know that too. I’ll add it to the website.
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and his team, are cutting 1,058 school staff and will also refuse to fill 350 other vacancies. A big concern is that those bearing the biggest brunt of the cuts are involved with special education.
Jesse Ruiz, the interim Chicago Public School CEO said the cuts were “painful and intolerable” but blamed the state. I really hate the business-like term CEO when talking about schools. But I digress.
Ruiz further worried everyone by saying Chicago Public Schools would move special education students out of their special cluster programs into neighborhood schools. The concern is that they will be pulling students with disabilities out of special education and putting them into regular education classes.
Is this allowed on the Individual Educational Plan (IEP)? Are they breaking the law surrounding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? Also, how many real educators, including those with preparation to work with students with disabilities, and support staff, will also lose their positions when these cluster programs close? They are claiming few teachers will be affected by the cuts. Few? How many is a few?
And how many more charters in Chicago are now accepting students with disabilities?
Meanwhile, over near Fairfield, CT, parents are calling the school district “broken and callous” and the education system is causing “widespread emotional and psychological damage.” Students, parents and the community are being shortchanged.
Why? Parents and some courageous teachers object to students with disabilities also being yanked out of their special education programs. It sounds like what’s happening in Chicago is happening in Fairfield too. IEPs are being ignored. Parents aren’t being notified.
So schools pull students out of special education and put them into regular education where they will likely be lost and fail. Then what happens?
What’s interesting is that it turns out that not everyone is on board for inclusion. Or maybe parents realize that inclusion isn’t inclusion without support services being provided in the regular classes.
If children were being placed in the regular class with added support, if the teacher had special credentials, or if those classes were smaller classes where the children could get their needs addressed, maybe there would be a reason for the change. But even then, parents should be a part of that decision.
But that’s not what’s happening in either Chicago or Fairfield and who knows how many other places.
In Alabama, last April, parents noticed some fishy changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDIEA) that would “restrict” their ability to “exercise their rights concerning the writing of the IEP.” It looks like they won’t drop the IEP meeting there. Instead, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) made confusing changes to the rules surrounding IEP meetings. IDIEA is the updated 2004 version of IDEA.
But James Gallini, who has a child with autism, and who founded The Gallini Group which serves families who have children with special needs, determined the changes ALSDE was making would create a burden for families and would “prevent families from being able to effectively advocate for their child with special needs.” Parents organized and pushed back.
How sad that we don’t have more politicians and philanthropists who support parents and students with special needs–who feel morally bound to help bolster programs found in public schools–instead of destroying them.
If this post sounds like the last post where I wrote about special education in New York and testing children based on their chronological age instead of their developmental age, it is because they are similar. Special education services are being denied children in their public schools, and students are being set up to fail.
When this happens, parents, who feel like they have no place to go will be more willing to accept a voucher program resulting in fewer, if any, services. Or they will be driven to home school their child.
The good news is that many parents, lawyers and teachers in local school districts are recognizing what’s happening in their cities and states, and they are speaking out more on behalf of their students. Let’s hope this is a trend that will continue.
Add Newark, NJ to the list. There is no opportunity for informed consent for parents.
Nancy Bailey says
That seems just plain wrong but not surprising. Thank you for sharing.
Judith Strollo says
Thank you for this. I’m a special Ed teacher (37. Year veteran ) in NJ and am very concerned about this trend. I just received the attached in my email and thought you’d be interested.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Judith! I noticed this the link has been getting a lot of hits. Thanks for sharing.
Joan Kramer says
I don’t know specific but I do know schools are being closed, materials developed especially for blind students were discarded, and many more cuts are being made in Los Angeles. I know a retired principal who has been advocating for parents to get the services they need and it hasn’t been easy at all. I think we need class action lawsuits!
Nancy Bailey says
I definitely agree about class action lawsuits, Joan! What a mess! Thank you for sharing.
Tina Andrews says
You can include Virginia and North Carolina in this as well. My dear friend just relocated her entire family out of NC solely in hopes of getting decent Special Ed services for one of her sons. In my case I spend countless hours pushing our district to do the minimum needed for my boy. In our case its clearly not the teachers that are an issue, In many cases it is not even the administrators at a particular school – it is the lack of funding the overall structure and the relentless drive of politicos and others uninformed in the basics of child development in general and special needs children in particular. Just making sure my son gets a “Free Appropriate Public Education” which is his right is nearly a second full time job on top of the ones my husband and I already work – to pay our taxes into the school system not serving him.
Nancy Bailey says
Tina, that is troubling and I am so sorry. Those cuts certainly seem unjustified. Let us know how things are going. I wish you could connect with other parents for support. Are there any advocacy or parent groups concerned about this near you?
There are serious problems in Virginia Beach, VA. Many kids pushed into more restrictive environments than necessary. Parents are very frustrated with the process. Superintendent seems more focused on the district’s elite academy programs for high achievers than resolving any problems for the most vulnerable students.
Nancy Bailey says
Kat, that is also sad. Every child deserves consideration. I know I am preaching to the choir.
Hi Kat, I live in Virginia Beach and I am the adoptive parent of my biological nephew who was born addicted and has a diagnosis of autism. My son hasn’t been going to school since a move away from his half sister and grandmother. I was able to get him into a home bound program, but he hasn’t been cooperating with the teacher. The teacher is not trained to deal with special needs and finally quit. Today I received a summons to appear in court. I’m looking for an attorney with experience in this area. I suppose I’ll withdraw my son from public school and home school until his anxiety get’s better. I have documentation from his therapist and don’t expect that the judge will fine me or worse, but it’s scary. Dealing with the school IEP board has been exhausting and humiliating at times. It’s a flawed system and YES it’s all about school statistics and lack of funds. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Linda D. Montalbano says
Go to due process hearing. I am a special ed advocate who helps parents go to due process and I do this for free. Also schools can’t force parents to pick up their children and not count it as an out of school suspension/change of placement. The following is a decision I just received in NY that can help you.Have you been called to take your child home from school early? If yes it is an out of school suspension
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT PARENTS, on behalf of CHILD, Petitioners, Hearing Officer: Michael Lazan v. Case # 96338 FLORIDA UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND DECISION: EXPEDITED ISSUE INTRODUCTION
This is a case filed on behalf of a nine-year-old student (“the Student”) who is eligible for services as a student with speech and language impairment. A Due Process Complaint (“Complaint”) was received by Florida Union Free School District (“District”) pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) on March 28, 2016 in regard to the Student. I was appointed to preside on March 30, 2016. An amended Complaint was filed on April 11, 2016. This Complaint contained one issue that must be expedited pursuant to Part 201 of the application regulations. The Complaint alleged that the Student was repeatedly removed from school between October 30, 2015 and February, 2016 without an appropriate manifestation determination review and related safeguards. A hearing was held on May 3, 2016 on this single issue, and the parties submitted briefs on this issue on May 10, 2016.
FINDINGS OF FACT
After considering all the evidence, as well as the arguments of both counsel, this Hearing Officer’s Findings of Fact are as follows:
The Student attended Orange-Ulster BOCES’s 6:1+2 special class at Minisink Valley Central School District at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. He immediately began to have severe behavioral issues. The Student was bolting, climbing, running, and trying to escape. (Tr. @ 95-97, 109-110) In October, 2015, Kathleen Santiago of BOCES spoke to the parents about having them pick up the Student at school when his behavior was dangerous. (Tr. @ 94-95) The parents then verbally agreed to pick the Student up at the school in these situations. (Tr. @ 97-98, 147) During this time, BOCES staff would use urgent language with the parents, such as “you have to pick him up, he’s dangerous and we can’t control him.” (Tr. @ 205) At the very least by late October, the Student was regularly hitting staff. He slapped an occupational therapist in the face, scratched a speech therapist, and pulled a paraprofessional’s hair. He also scratched the paraprofessional, grabbed her around the neck, and even kicked her multiple times. (P-21) Clearly, by this point, the Student was out of control far too often in class.
The parents ended up picking the Student up from school, at minimum, on October 5, 2015; October 8, 2015; October 15, 2015; November 18, 2015; November 23, 2015; December 1, 2015, December 3, 2015, December 7, 2015; December 22, 2015; January 4, 2016; January 11, 2015; January 22, 2016, January 26, 2016, and February 9, 2016. (Exh. 1; Tr. @ 230-231; 241-244) Generally, the day after such pick-up, the Student stayed home from school. (Tr. @ 108-109)
On a number of occasions, the parents were called to pick the Student up when they were unavailable to pick him up. (Tr. @ 116-117, 230-231) If the Student was not picked up, the school “just managed,” the “nurse was involved,” everybody was involved, and they did what they “had to do to make sure everybody was safe.” (Tr. @ 111-112) Additionally, the parents were encouraged not to send the Student to school on certain days, especially when a staff member named Heather was not going to be in school. (Tr. @ 245)
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
In 2007 the New York State legislature passed a bill that was signed by the Governor which switches the burden from parent to District except for the second criterion in cases for tuition reimbursement or payment. Chapter 583 of the Laws of 2007. State regulations provide that a disciplinary change in placement means a “suspension or removal from a student’s current educational placement that is either: (1) for more than 10 consecutive school days; or (2) for a period of 10 consecutive days or less if the student is subjected to a series of suspensions or removals that constitute a pattern because they cumulate to more than 10 school days in a school year.” 8 NYCRR 201.2(e); 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1415(k)(1)([B); 34 CFR 300.530(b)(2), (c). If a district is considering a disciplinary change in placement for a student with a disability, the district must conduct an manifestation determination review meeting “within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct.” 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1415(k)(1)(E )(i); 34 CFR 300.530(e )(1); 8 NYCRR 201.4(a)(3). Within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a student with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the manifestation team must review all relevant information in the student’s file including the student’s IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents to determine if: “(1) the conduct in question was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability; or (2) the conduct in question was the direct result of the school district’s failure to implement the IEP.” 8 NYCRR 201.4(c); 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1415(k)(1)(e ); Educ. Law Sect. 3214(3)(g)(3)(vii); 34 CFR 300.530(e )(1). If the result of the MDR is a determination that the student’s behavior was a manifestation of his or her disability, the CSE is required to conduct a functional behavioral assessment (“FBA”) and implement a behavioral intervention plan (“BIP”); or if the student already has a BIP, review the BIP and modify it as necessary to address the behavior. 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1415(k)(1)(F)(i)-(ii); 34 CFR 300.530(f)(1)(i)-(ii); 8 NYCRR 201.3. Except under “special circumstances” as defined in the IDEA and regulations, the district must also return the student to the placement from which he or she was removed or suspended. 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1415(k)(1)(F)(iii); Educ. Law Sect. 3214(3)(g)(3)(viii); 34 CFR 300.530(f)(2); 8 NYCRR 201.4(d)(2)(ii).
When parents are told to pick up students from school because of misbehavior, the directive from the school district should be characterized as a disciplinary change of placement. If this occurs for more than ten days because of a pattern of misbehavior, this change of placement requires a manifestation determination review to determine whether the Student’s disability caused the behavior. In re Student with a Disability, 55 IDELR 299 (Wyo. SEA 2010)(student sent home on more than 10 occasions; District changed placement); 71 Fed. Reg. 46,715 (2006) (portions of a school day that a child had been suspended may be considered as a removal in regard to determining whether there is a pattern of removals). The District argued that the BOCES requests for the parents to pick up the Student from school in the middle of the school day were not violative of the IDEA. The District’s position was that this request was a function of a Behavior Intervention Plan (“BIP”) between the parent and the school district, and is not “disciplinary.” The parents objected, contending that they were coerced into any such agreement, which was verbal, and did not genuinely consent or agree to any such thing. Whether the terms were verbal or not, there is an OSEP letter on this point that is persuasive. In Letter to Lippsitt, 52 IDELR 47 (OSEP 2008), OSEP found that there is no provision in the IDEA or its implementing regulations requiring that a parent agree to an IEP. Accordingly, they found that a parent may file a due process complaint regarding an IEP to which the parent previously had agreed. By the same logic, a parent cannot consent to an educational plan that exists outside of a formal IEP, whether through a BIP (as contended by the District) or otherwise. As a result, regardless of whether the parents consented to this practice, the District changed the Student’s placement, and a manifestation determination review was due the Student. The District also contends that this matter is moot because the Student is no longer in the BOCES placement. They contend that a new behavior plan will be in place next year, when the Student’s new program is written. The United States Supreme Court, in Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305 (1988) addressed issues of mootness in a context where a child had behavior problems. In Honig, a child was indefinitely suspended from school after a pattern of behavior including stealing, extorting, and making lewd sexual comments. Though the child no longer even resided within the school district at the time of the Supreme Court appeal, the court heard the child=s claims over objections about mootness, stating: In the absence of any suggestions that (the student) has overcome his earlier difficulties, it is certainly reasonable to expect, based on his prior history of behavioral problems, that he will again engage in classroom misconduct. 484 U.S. at 320. The Court stressed that the key inquiry was whether the events in question were capable of repetition, not A more probable than not@ to be repeated. 484 U.S. at 320 n. 6. The court also noted that IDEA reviews are often Aponderous, @ suggesting that suspended students are often readmitted to school before issues can be heard in due process hearings. 484 U.S. at 317-323. Notwithstanding Honig, the Second Circuit has found that special education cases can be moot on certain occasions. In Lillbask ex rel. Mauclaire v. State of Conn. Dep’t of Educ., 397 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 2005), the court did in fact dismiss a claim on mootness grounds. However, the ultimate issue in Lillbask was whether the severely disabled student could be maintained in a general education class in the Redding, Connecticut school district. That issue was moot because by the time of the ruling, Redding had agreed to keep the Student in such a class in the District. Here, the parties are not of one mind in regard to main issue here, i.e., whether a school may ask a parent of a special education student to pick up a student more than 10 times in a year if they misbehave. See Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education v. Rachel H., 14 F.3d 1398 @ 1403 (9th Cir. 1994)(parties held conflicting educational philosophies; no mootness); Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Education, 874 F.2d 1036, @ 1040–41 (5th Cir.
1989)(“[e]ach side of this controversy steadfastly adheres to its perception of the [law]). Moreover, there is a request for compensatory education here. Even if there is no reasonable likelihood that the District may ask the parents to pick the Student up at school in the future, it would still be necessary to determine the expedited issue to determine whether compensatory education may be warranted. Student X v. New York City Dep’t of Educ., 2008 WL 4890440, at *15 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 30, 2008); see also Lesesne v. Dist. of Columbia, 447 F.3d 828, 833 [D.C. Cir. 2006. The District also contends that the Student was only asked to be picked up on for ten days exactly, which is one less day than is needed to trigger the protections of the relevant statute. The parent testified and confirmed the account provided in the Complaint, which was to the effect that the Student missed portions of thirteen school days because they were asked to pick him up. The District’s presentation relied on the testimony of Ms. Santiago, who testified to the contrary. However, I found Ms. Santiago’s testimony inconsistent with the attendance records of the Student. Ms. Santiago testified that the use of the words “other tardy excused” on the Student’s attendance records normally indicated that the Student was asked to be picked up. (Tr. @ 116) In fact, during testimony Ms. Santiago identified Student pick-up dates in November solely by pointing to those dates when the Student was marked “other tardy excused.” (Tr. @ 112-113) The Student was deemed “other tardy excused” on eleven dates during this time period, not ten. (SD-2 @ 64-68) Ms. Santiago also testified that the entry “parent/guardian excuse – tardy excused” suggested that the parents were asked to pick him up. (Tr. @ 105-106; SD-2 @ 64) There were five more dates with this notation on the attendance document: October 5, 2015; October 15, 2015; November 4, 2015; November 5, 2015; and November 12, 2015. Ms. Santiago testified that the November 4 and November 5 dates were not dates where the Student was picked up. (Tr. @ 113) However, before testifying that the Student was not picked up on the November 4 and 5 dates, Ms. Santiago stated that she did not recall what happened on those dates. Ms. Santiago also denied that the Student was sometimes told to stay home, but the father’s testimony was more detailed, and more convincing, on this point. The parent testified that, on the days that a staff member named Heather was in school, the Student did well. But when Heather was not going to be in school, BOCES staff would tell the parents that “it’s a good idea that you give him a break and give our staff a break.” (Tr. @ 245) The District did not present a rebuttal case to explain who Heather is, or why the parent might have been making up such an allegation that was so specific. Finally, the District contends that this expedited issue was not mentioned in the Due Process Complaint. However, the Complaint clearly references all the times when the parents were called to pick the Student up. The Complaint also specifically references the provision of federal law on the requirements for manifestation determination reviews. (Amended Complaint, at 6). While the Amended Complaint is in artfully drafted, it is not drafted by a lawyer and should be liberally construed, especially where, as here, the District certainly received adequate notice of the claim in the Amended Complaint. In fact, the entire reason for the parents having to amend their Due Process Complaint in the first place was to bring this expedited claim. A review of the preliminary steps in this case is in order. After filing of the initial Complaint, a prehearing conference was held between the parties and this hearing officer to schedule a hearing on the expedited claim, i.e. the claim at issue in this decision. It was difficult to schedule such a hearing date. As a result, the parents agreed to amend the Complaint so that there would be added flexibility with respect to dates. The date of May 3, 2016 was explicitly set by the parties and this hearing officer to hear testimony on the question of whether the Student pickups were lawful. In sum, I find that the district violated 20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(e )(i), 34 CFR 300.530(e ),)(1), and 8 NYCRR 201.4(a)(3) by failing to render a manifestation determination within 10 school days of the decision to change the placement of a student with a disability.
REMEDY Where Districts have failed to offer students a FAPE, courts have wide discretion to insure that students receive a FAPE going forward. As the Supreme Court has stated: The statute directs the court to “grant such relief as [it] determines is appropriate.” The ordinary meaning of these words confers broad discretion on the court. The type of relief is not further specified, except that it must be “appropriate.” Absent other reference, the only possible interpretation is that the relief is to be “appropriate” in light of the purpose of the Act. As already noted, this is principally to provide handicapped children with “a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs School Committee of the Town of Burlington v. Dep’t of Education, Massachusetts, 471 U.S. 359, 371 (1985). In this case, the District should have conducted a manifestation determination review, and determined whether the Student’s behaviors were related to his disability. If they found they were related to his disability, they should have either returned him to his educational placement or placed him in an Interim Alternate Educational Setting. 201.5(d(2)(ii); 201.7(e ). If they found that they were not related to his disability, he still would have been eligible for “services necessary to enable the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the student’s IEP,” and to receive a functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention services and modifications that are designed to address the behavior violation so it does not recur. 8 NYCRR Sect. 201.10(d). Petitioners seek compensatory education as a remedy. In regard to compensatory education, the Circuit has previously enunciated a “gross violation” standard. Garro v. State of Connecticut, 23 F.3d 734, 737 (2d Cir. 1994) However, this standard is at odds with the standards in most jurisdictions. In P. v. Newington Bd. of Educ., 546 F.3d 111 n.13 (2d Cir. 2008), the Circuit signaled that the Garro approach is only applicable where Students are over 21. In so analyzing this issue, the court referenced the seminal compensatory education case of Reid v. District of Columbia, 401 F.3d 516, 518 (D.C. Cir. 2005). In Reid, the D.C. Circuit explained that compensatory education should be fashioned without a “cookie cutter approach” and that compensatory education must be reasonably calculated to provide the educational benefits that likely would have accrued from special education services the school district should have supplied in the first place. Id., 401 F. 3d at 524; see also Friendship Edison Public Charter School v. Nesbitt, 532 F. Supp. 2d 121, 125 (D.D.C. 2008) (compensatory award must be based on a “‘qualitative, fact-intensive’ inquiry used to craft an award ‘tailored to the unique needs of the disabled student”). Petitioners, who did not present a compensatory education proposal, are here asking me to craft one myself. This is within my authority, as I discussed above. In reviewing the record, I find that this case is similar to In re Student with a Disability, 55 IDELR 299 (Wyo. SEA 2010), where there was a similar allegation that the Student was asked to be picked up by his parents more than 10 times during a school year. In that case, the State Director of Education awarded 50 hours of tutoring to the Student. After a consideration of the entire record, I find that is an appropriate award in this case as well.
As a result of the foregoing, I order the following: 1. The District is hereby ordered to provide the Student with fifty hours of compensatory education. The provider shall be a certified special education teacher. This provider shall be paid at the provider’s usual rate provided that such rate is a reasonable and customary rate in the community.
Dated: May 17, 2016
Michael Lazan IHO
APPEALS NOTICE There is a right to appeal this decision to the New York State Review Officer in accordance with 8 N.Y.C.R.R. Sect. 200.5(k) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
There is a group in Ohio called Disability Rights Ohio that is bringing a lawsuit against the state.
In Chicago, there are about 15 Social Workers retiring. The BOE is not hiring replacement Social Workers. My caseload in Elementary schools was 96. They blamed me for not being able to service the kids.
They rewrite IEP’s in order to accommodate school and district needs. I was assigned to a charter school network that had parents sign an agreement that they understood the school was English-only, and when the IEP said services to be delivered in Spanish or with Spanish support, the paraprofessional ( they only had 1 certified Sped Teacher) rewrote the IEP.
So many more horror stories. Governor cutting services to Autistic children.
It is beyond discouraging.
Nancy Bailey says
Wow! 96! “They rewrite IEP’s in order to accommodate school and district needs.” That really says it all doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing, Laura…no surprise there though.
Linda Montalbano says
As we do due process hearings we use the transcripts where school staff admit they violated IDEA 2004 in state DOE complaints. Highlands County school board has only one choice for students that face expulsion from school. It is the Academy and 1,900 students have gone through the Academy since it opened.
March 10, 2015 Highlands County school board Hill-Gustat Middle School Florida Adam Smehyl guidance resource teacher last year Dean of Students Page 231 lines 14-16: “Q. And he has an alternative of going to The Academy? A. That is correct.” Page 231 lines 17-21: “Q. So as we sit here today, he’s either going to be expelled, or he’s going to go to The Academy? A. That would be my understanding.
March 11, 2015 Highlands County school board Florida Darrell Heckman director of The Academy at Youth Care Lane page 515 lines 11-16: “Q. Does your program specifically address oppositional defiance disorder? A. We’ve had some of — I know one that comes to mind right now, yes. He was in a program. He was a little bit older. He was, I believe, 15, so — but, yeah, we do have them when they come in with that.” page 515 lines 17-23: “Q. And was it successful in addressing it? A. It was successful, yes. Again, it’s all about building a relationship with kids, you know, where –and when they realize that part of the program is to break the kid down, but them to bring them back, and when they realize that you truly do care about them and you are there to help them, that’s when things take off.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Andrea West licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional employed at the Academy page 111-112 lines 25,1-3: “Q. Are they screamed at by any of the staff? A. They are loudly instructed. They are instructed in a loud manner to get on their feet, to post on the hatch, to go outside, yes.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Marvin Haynes Resource assistance at the Academy page 211 lines 17-21: “Q. Post on the buck head, you’re facing the wall with your forehead on the wall? A. Right, with your forehead on the wall.” page 211 lines 13-16: “When you post on the buck head, when they post on the buck head they have to post with their head on the buck head at the position of attention.” page 207 lines 11-14: “Normally during the course of the day whenever they see a red line of kids, they’re not allowed to cross the red line. They’ve got to stop at the red line as far as military. Stop at the red line.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Marvin Haynes Resource assistance at the Academy page 210 lines 17-21: “When they sit at the dining hall table to eat they have to sit in position of attention, heel and toe together. Heels together, feet 45. They can have their hand up because they are eating but they are supposed to keep their head and eyes straight forward.”page 211-212 lines 24-25,1: “Then here again, he would not stay — head not straight forward, he’s moving around, he’s looking around.” page 212 lines 6-7: “[B.C.], look if you don’t come compliant, I’m going to have to place you in the pit.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida James Lobozzo’s open statement page 27 lines 15-20: “There’s something called “the pit.” It is an area about 20 feet by 30 feet full of sand surrounded by tires with a couple three chairs in it. And it’s basically isolation. There’s nothing required to be done in the pit other than to just sit there.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Andrea West licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional employed at the Academy testified page 114-115 lines 22-25,1-17: “Q. How does the pit correct B.C.’s behaviors? A. One form of behavior work is to have him taken away from peers for attention. That’s commonly used in behavior strategies to take away the audience. It gives him a way to deal with himself instead of being argumentative with an adult, which is where oppositional defiant behaviors engage in. And there’s no win with that, so he has to deal with himself. It gives him an opportunity to breath, take a time out without any stress, without any confrontation. It allows him to get a change of mindset, a change of being either in a stressful situation versus a nonstressful situation. It is a safe area observed. And how it helps him is he can take advantage of that and then he would request to come back and join the others when he’s ready. There’s no set limit just to stand there or sit there. Some use it as a place to be angry for a little while in a safe area. Some use it as a place to make up their mind what they want to do. And some use it as an area to walk around, walk off their frustration.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Marvin Haynes Resource assistance at the Academy page 212 lines 8-13: “You know, and he kept swinging around, kept moving, would never come compliant. So [B.C.] was placed in the pit. While he was in the pit during this time we moved everybody into education, to the education class. Q. Yes.” page 212 lines 19-21: “A. Okay. This particular day his instruction was to stay in the pit. Go to the pit. Stay in the pit. If you come compliant, I’ll get him back in class.” page 221 lines 5-14: “Q. You had described an incident with [B.C.] on the one occasion where he was assigned to the pit. Is there a durational component of the pit? What I mean by that is: Is there — my first question: Is there a standard period of time that the child has to quote, unquote, go to the pit, how long they are there? If there is such a thing, is there a standard time? A. No. Basically it’s when the kid complies. page 222 lines 1-10: “Q. And my question I guess what I’m getting to, is there a time limit that you have set, whether it’s an actual policy, or something in practice, that if a kid doesn’t comply and doesn’t come on line while in the pit, do you release them from the pit after a certain amount of minutes, or is it hours? How does that work? A. No. We don’t have a set time, sir. We don’t have a set time. Like I said, most of the time kids become compliant. Rarely do you have a kid that don’t come compliant.” page 212 lines 21-24: “This particular day [B.C.] never came compliant. page 213 line 2-4: “Every time he came in I didn’t question him about using the head, [B.C.] and go back to the pit.” page 213 line 8 So when I go out, [B.C.] poured water all over himself. Q. Poured water on himself? A. All over himself. Got mud all on the front of him. So at this point I can’t get him back to education. He never came on line.” page 223 lines 10-15: “Q. Would it be safe to say that the behavior that [B.C.] had done while you observed him pouring the water all over him, would it be safe to say that it was because he was outside for an extended time and he was very hot from being out there? A. No, sir.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Andrea West licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional employed at the Academy page 96 lines 14-18: “Q. Are you aware — to your knowledge, do the students that get put in the pit at any given time made to lay on the ground and roll on the ground while they’re sprayed with a hose? A. I’m not aware of that being part of the pit.”
May 18, 2015 Highlands County School Board Florida Marvin Haynes Resource assistance at the Academy page 215-216 line 19-25: “[C.C.]: Okay. Just for the Judge, they make the students roll here and spray them with a hose. A. That’s the first day. Q. Yes. A. That’s forming day. Q. Yep. Uh-hum. A. That’s the only day they get that. Q. They do this though; right? A. Right. Forming day. Q. Thank you.”
Without a physical before entering this program students do extreme physical activities from 9 am then from 4 to 6:30 they get access to education on a computer program that is not for high school credit so they are out of school for 3 to 9 weeks with little to no real access to their education.
Nancy Bailey says
Linda, How horrible! What happened with all of this? It reminds me of the teen book, Holes by Louis Sachar!
Cindy Rose says
Here in Frederick Co, Maryland 22 students, all neurotypical to my knowledge were “allowed” to refuse the State (PARCC) assessments. My 9 year old severely developmentally delayed, non communicating child was NOT allowed. They forced him to take the test without my consent and knowledge.
August 26, 2015 is our hearing before the Board of Education. We are hoping they will codify a parents right to refuse these tests.
Nancy Bailey says
Cindy, this makes me furious! I am so impressed that you stood up and brought attention to this issue on behalf of so many children. Keep in touch and tell us what happens. Thank you for sharing.
Cindy Rose says
I’ll keep you informed.
Lynette Williams says
Lynette Williams says
Anything in Pennsylvania that anyone is aware of?
Nancy Bailey says
Lynette, I spent a little time looking online and I came up with this. Interesting description of the funding involving charter schools at the end. Thank you.
Linda Montalbano says
go to due process hearing call me 352-282-2539 I will help anyone for free to go against the school district in hearing over the internet and telephone
Nancy Bailey says
Linda, could you let us know what happened with the Academy?
I am having trouble in WA state and I am looking for help filing against a school. Any suggestions for an attorney or advocate?
Nancy Bailey says
Shannon, You might try asking this group. Perhaps they could direct you to the right individual. http://www.disabilityrightswa.org/
Linda D. Montalbano says
Still open no one will investigate and stop them from abusing the children.
Add Minneapolis, Minnesota to your list. They are dismantling a very successful autism program here under the guise of “inclusion.” Parents who are asking questions and advocating for their kids are being publicly and privately shamed for it.
We just delivered a petition demanding the changes be halted (with over 5,200 signatures) to the Superintendent and Board of Education today. Here is a story about it:
Nancy Bailey says
This is a crushing blow to students with autism and their parents in Minneapolis! I have been Tweeting and Re-posting this. Thank you for providing the link to Sarah Lahm’s excellent description of what is happening there, Nikki.
Thank you so much, Nancy! We parents have been working really hard to get the word out.
Minneapolis is justifying these changes based in a report they commissioned from the District Management Council (DMC), a Boston-based consulting firm. DMC has been hired by districts across the country. Are you finding that other districts’ special Ed cuts are also being justified by similar reports by DMC?
I wish we could expose this story. The idea of this consulting firm profiting from districts slashing special Ed is infuriating!!
Nancy Bailey says
Sorry for the delay, Nikki. Thank you also for the link. This reminds me of another group called Futures Education which is similar, however, they ran into some trouble. Parents seem to eventually wise up when it comes to groups like this. No one wants to lose services for their children. But I’m guessing Futures is reinventing itself. I look forward to reading and comparing the DMC. I have been interested in these groups.
Thank you for this link. The companies sound very similar.
Nikki our district (suburb of Chicago-not affiliated with CPS) recently hired DMC for $225,000 and their findings come out next month. we are worried.
L.C., I will be curious to find out how things go for you. Are you in Elgin, by any chance? I saw an article that Elgin hired DMC a while ago.
Nikki-we are in Elmhurst. We have a very actively engaged educated community who are already vocally upset about the contract with DMC (unfortunately our town is indeed
getting a ton of bad press lately due to other messes by our DMC driven superintendent (even before the DMC findings come out) http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/2015/12/16/elmhurst-district-205-scrutinized-for-pulling-lgbtq-announcements/a74gk8v/?page=1
Karen Holme says
Florida certainly has its troubles. I call it “delay, deny, hope you die!” I’m in Palm Beach County however the theme around The state is pervasive: to avoid student eligibility, avoid making measurable appropriate goals, and avoid services. I have created a nonprofit called 4 A Better Education to provide advocacy services for students with special needs and financial needs. We operate on a sliding scale of need. Our goal is to serve students with disabilities all over the state of Florida so that they may use their procedural rights and obtain the services they deserve! http://Www.facebook.com/4abettereducation
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks, Karen. For years Palm Beach County had a reputation for great schools. I also believe they pushed back on harmful reforms. But I guess they are now struggling like everywhere else. I will promote your page on the website and wherever I can. Parents need as much support as they can get. Stay in touch.
Vivian Willis says
More on the District Management Council, an organization behind many of the special ed funding cuts throughout the country: http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/10/188342/cashing-special-needs-kids#.dpuf.
Nancy Bailey says
I’ll have to read this carefully. I am interested in how they are partnering with outside groups now for special ed. services so this is appreciated. Thank you, Vivian.
My daughter has a new IEP that states she is only allowed to attend school on Monday and Tuesday. She has an severe emotional behavior disorder. She is 6 years young and has recently lost her grandmother, and uncle in the same year, a few months later her father deploys to Korea for a YEAR…
She is a very smart little girl but suffers from depression, anxiety, EBD, and etc… She loves learning and faces trauma everyday she walks into the school….
Crawford Eagle Nest Roberta, Georgia