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HEAL is an egalitarian network of activists self-empowered to plan events, create change, and make the world a better place for all life.  Our goals include the liberation of humans, nonhuman animals, and the earth!  We work in cooperation with like-minded organizations that put compassion in action!

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Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that denies you one on one contact with your child AT ANY TIME.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that requires a liability waiver for any harm caused to your child.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that denies them access to a telephone.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that uses confrontational "therapy"!  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility where their phone calls with you are monitored.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that expects total and unquestioned support of parents.

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Abuse In Public Schools Article, May 2009

 

One Mother’s Story, One Child’s Misery

(please contact info@heal-online.org with ?’s)

 

In April of 2001 the  State of Massachusetts enacted a much needed regulation ( 603 CMR 46) specific to  use of restraint in public and private approved special education schools in Massachusetts  At the time there were many other regulations in MA regarding restraint that pertain to nursing homes, hospitals, group homes but none for public school programs.. All other agencies such as the , Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Mental Health and those that pertained to hospitals and nursing homes had regulations prohibiting restrained used for anything but an emergency. . 

 

THESE new restraint regulations were a direct result of my showing a video of my child being restrained a most abusive way to our state representatives and senators. This video was presented to the Massachusetts State Legislature by The Disability Law Center in Boston to the Massachusetts legislatures and the MA Department of Education. I also spoke at these meetings and at conferences while this video was being shown. The video showed my child in a public school program that was using potentially deadly restraints on my child for behavior modification purposes rather than safety.    This video was taken of my child in a public school program for children with autism and related disorders when she was age 10 years old. In the video Abbie was forced to the floor face down very violently for not sitting in her chair, not blowing her nose and not getting off the floor when instructed to by the teacher. The teacher twisted her wrist back to get her down on the floor on a dirty rug with her head up against a wall and at times pulled her around the room like she was not a living person.  She only hit and or pushed the teachers when they became physical with her but was not being a danger to her or others.  Even if Abigail had been hitting the teachers or staff the type of restraint they were using was extremely dangerous and could interfere with breathing.   We felt that the type of forceful restraint technique as shown on the video we felt rose to the level of assault and battery and that Abbie was being abused. All the experts that we showed the video to felt that restraints shown on the video were unjustified, unethical, excessive, improper, and abusive. Abbie as shown in the video is placed in a prone physical restraint position five separate times during a fifteen minute period, all for repeated acts of non-compliance. She was restrained violently a total of 15 times in a 40 minute time frame.. These procedures were not restraint for safety but most were pain-compliance techniques, often used by police in the past in correctional facilities.  In fact two crisis prevention companies (CPI and MANDT) and a restraint death expert who is a EMT are using the still pictures from the video and the video. These companies use the video and pictures to show the most potentially deadly form of restraint (face down prone restraint that can result in “positional asphyxia” and a painful wrist twist to show an example of pain compliance).

 

 In Feb of 1999 I gave a copy of this video which of my child showing Barnstable school staff using these methods on Abbie for non compliance to the Barnstable Police Detective Reed Hall. We were very shocked when told that this was a “civil matter” by the police and that the “case was closed”. It was not disclosed to me at the time why the local District Attorney Michael O’ Keefe told me “it must be some kind of method they use on those kinds of kids “and I had not seen any police report that they generated.

 

I was very unhappy that our DA would have this have this type of discriminatory attitude about a disabled child especially since the video showed my child being abused by these aggressive potentially deadly restraint methods that would never be allowed in any hospital, nursing home or even prison in Massachusetts. I was very angry and that is when I started working on the regulations and also consulted a lawyer. We then filed a lawsuit (which was settled in July of 2004) While in a deposition in August of 2003 some documents were shown to be from the initial police investigation. I was shown a copy of letter written by a nurse named Kathleen Ecker representing the Children’s Cove addressed to DA Michael O’Keefe and a police Detective named Reed Hall and for the first time saw the police report.

 

In the summer of 2004 I finally obtained the whole file from the police pertaining to this investigation. . The contents of the  letter written by Kathleen Ecker RN of the Children’s Cove and what she says has led me to investigate the people involved in the writing of this letter and the role the Children’s Cove played along with a private school called The May Center or also known as the May Institute.  What I can see from this letter is that the Children’s Cove Nurse that was asked to look at the video for the DA and the Barnstable Police. They all seemed to be unfamiliar with children with Autism and or developmental delays. I am not sure why this was so since she was a pediatric nurse that worked for years at the Cape Cod Hospital. Instead of just looking at the goings on in the video and seeing Abbie as just another child of age 10 she decided that there must be different rules for a child like Abbie.. I wonder if a child with Autism has a broken leg or some medical problem do nurses in hospitals think that they can treat them in some sort of different manner. The two women that she mentions in the letter as it turned out were not able to be impartial should since they were connected closely to the teachers using the restraints on Abbie. In fact one of the women was a consultant to the very program that this took place in. I believe that the two women who were contacted by the nurse were part of a scheme to cover up what happened to my child and protect the teacher and the public school.

 

 This past August of 2004 I then went to the Barnstable County office and spoke to the administrator who is in and hand delivered a letter to them about the involvement of The Children’s Cove. Every time I read the letter it was more shocking to me what was in it. I am actively in the process of investigating this incident fully and have reported the individuals involved with the nurse to their Boards of Licensure. I also filed a complaint against the nurse with the Board of Nursing which enabled me to obtain an affidavit and another version of this letter written by the nurse. I can see that after consulting with these two women from The May Center  the nurse from the Children’s Cove with all her training at a hospital (where there are numerous safeguards in place regarding restraint) told the police and DA that she agreed with these two women that what was done to “Abbie was extremely therapeutic and that restraints were not contingent upon aggression alone”. The rest of the contents of the original letter I found as part of the police report and the one that was supplied to me by the Board of Nursing (which had even more information if you compare them) is WHY I have written to you at this time so you can see that your workshop needs to stress protection of children with developmental problems and communication problems in disorders such as AUTISM.  From what I read about your workshop in the flyer you do appear to have an interest in the rights of disabled children I feel it is my duty to inform you what went on with my child and how she was treated by the Children’s Cove and the District Attorney. I wonder how this Children’s Cove Nurse with all her training could be talked into thinking that this was some sort of therapy and not abusive to Abbie and hurt her . Abbie came home many times covered with bruises and has been diagnosed with PTSD as a direct result of what occurred in that classroom when she was only 10 years old.

 

 I am not happy with the Children’s Cove or the DA and the police in how they handled the incident with my child. I am extremely concerned about the actions of the May Institute Director and Social Worker. In the future when the police are investigating abuse involving a child with autism in the future this would not happen again. IF they had obtained a video of a typical child being tossed around, sat upon, pressed into a wall and having her wrist twisted (see the pictures) I wonder if they would have been talked into the fact that this was some sort of therapy to be used on children for non compliance.( you can see from the two letters written by Nurse Eker )that the fact she was restrained for non compliance was the subject of them ) I am enclosing the letter and the two page police report and some other information. In the course of your workshop you can relay to this agency and the people attending the conference that children with autism and or other disabilities cannot be abused by aversive type methods for behavior modification and that tossing a child around and pressing her into the ground is never “extremely therapeutic “as Nurse Ecker writes to the DA and the police who somehow believed her and the two women from the May Institute.

 

For more information on this story visit: http://www.aprais.org/

 

 

Trouble in Texas

 

by Dr. & Mrs. S. McNutt   

 

My Family's Nightmare in Texas

I have no idea what is wrong with these people who make and enforce laws against children.  It’s so beyond my concept of what's just and unjust.  I can't even wrap my mind around it.  It's surreal when you find yourself mixed up in it.

My name is Dionne and my husband was a pediatrician in Lubbock, Texas.  My 10-year-old son (now 11 and STILL not investigated, tried for, or convicted of any crime) was falsely accused of indecency with a child" and held for 10 days at the Lubbock County Juvenile Justice Center.

What happened, basically, is the police called my husband and said my son had to be brought to the police station for mug shots, fingerprinting and then transfer to the Lubbock County Juvenile Justice Center (LCJJC) until a judge heard his case. We hired an attorney immediately. Three days after my son was detained, at his "detention hearing", he was brought into court wearing standard prison garb, including the shackles and handcuffs.  When my son's case was called It was apparent that the judge wanted to let him go but this bitch-on-wheels P.O. (probation officer) told the judge we had another boy who my 10 yr. old could possibly be molesting (this was never even a cause for his being taken in) and that we lived across the street from the school (despite it being June and no one in class, apparently this was still a danger to society).  After that, the judge ordered a psych eval to be done and remanded him back to the Lubbock County Juvenile Justice Center until it was completed.

While this is not a TYC facility, it is a state-administered facility nonetheless.  While being detained there, my son faced some of the same kinds of abuses suffered by those held at TYC.  He was locked in his room for 3 hours at a time for "not shutting a door correctly."  On yet another occasion, they turned off his electricity and water, stripped his bed and took all the letters and pictures off of his wall.

My son, who is very small, was hazed repeatedly by the detention officers and was threatened and told not to tell anyone. One guard told my son to go to his room, lean against his wall and get ready for a cavity search; He didn't even know what that was.  He was also placed in the middle of their pod by a guard who pulled out electric clippers and told my son they were shaving his head. He wasn't even allowed his weekly phone call home.

When he didn't eat all of his food they threatened to make him wear a dress.  Upon being admitted they insisted he receive a shot but we were never notified or asked our permission. These are just a few of the things that we know about. After a little research I found out that in the past 2 years there have been 2 suicides and at least one allegation of rape.

When I complained to the Director, Les Brown, about how my son was treated he had me banned from the building as an attempt to muzzle me. I reported the Lubbock County Juvenile Justice Center to the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission but it took them almost a year to investigate and file a report. The report agreed that my son's rights were violated, but not all of these violations rose to a "significant level."  Gov. Perry also agreed that these violations and abuse did rise to a level requiring action and he would be contacting the DOJ, we never heard from either again. Sadly, only one individual was ever disciplined (one detention officer received a three-day suspension), with no other consequences to anyone else.

Ironically, my husband did many of the physicals for kids entering the S.T.A.R. program here (a long term boot camp for juveniles) so he has heard from other parents about how their kids were mistreated at the juvenile justice center and whose parents, like myself, were "banned" from the premises when they complained.  Apparently, the leaders of the Juvenile Justice Centers - charged with helping and supervising our kids - would rather ignore problems at their sites or, sadder still, disregard the victimization our kids might be going through.

While he was in the detention center, we hired a private psychologist to do our son's psychological evaluation.  His opinion was that it was very unlikely that our son had committed the acts he was accused of and that was not remotely a danger to either himself or others.  On his release, he was ordered to attend regular counseling.  Our son was released from LCJJC (after 10 days) on the condition that he see a PO and a counselor weekly (as well as 12 other "conditions of Release").  The psychologist that he began seeing (actually one of the psychologists who frequently did evaluations for the D.A.'s office and could hardly be seen as biased in his favor) also agreed that there was no way he committed the "crime" he was charged with.

When school began, the accusing mom told the Principal our son had molested her children and was a danger to the kids in our neighborhood.  Instead of taking the professional opinion of 3 psychologists, 2 pediatricians and character reference letters from several teachers at his previous school, the school district just decided he should be placed in the "alternative school" for delinquent kids for THE WHOLE YEAR!  We appealed the decision as far as we were legally allowed to in the state of Texas and were repeatedly denied, usually with the reasoning that "We have no choice."  (Incidentally, my husband thoroughly studied the Texas Education Code regarding this and, prior to each appeal, detailed exactly how and why they could, and should, reverse the earlier decision).  When I asked for the DAEP curriculum, they didn't let me have one.  They only did actual class work 3 hours a day, while the rest of the time he had to do "boot camp" activities such as marching, exercises, etcetera (plus clean dumpsters, weed the grass, and other menial tasks).

I recorded much of this on tape and took pics of my son "working" alongside kids from all grades (despite the legal issue that he was too young to be with anyone older than 11).  I was on their ass daily but, if I hadn't been no telling how many other laws they would have broken.  By the end of the year, he had been made to teach the class of kids aged 6-11 when there was a substitute teacher.  I blew a friggin fuse.  Eventually, the DA wrote a letter to the school saying they didn't plan on prosecuting my son, however the elementary school still denied him access.

Basically, he lost a full year of education and socialization. He lost any semblance of innocence and normalcy that he had prior to this.  He was basically unable to have any meaningful interaction with other kids.  He spent a whole year with no friends, and nothing but constant scrutiny. Then, when the bitch (the mother of the "victim") told our neighbors they began a harassment campaign ultimately resulted in animal control murdering my son's dogs.
 
The mom who had accused my son went on the local news station and told the whole town that she "stopped a child molester from being allowed in school” and that he was now enrolled in DAEP.  While his name was not mentioned, he was the only 10 year old in the school district who was in DAEP at that time and the interview was filmed in front of the elementary school, which is directly across from what was then our home.  They showed this tape at both 6:00 and 10:00.

My son couldn't even have his birthday in Lubbock (he had no friends), so we took him to my parents house over 300 miles away and picked up some of his friends from his old town on the way.

I hope the investigation into TYC will lead to other investigations of the institutions that our children are locked in but I'm not holding my breath.  The Texas House and Senate members serving on the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues and Criminal Justice committees, respectively, can not claim ignorance on these issues because we have sent each of them a packet detailing the abuses that occurred in Lubbock. I sent all of these via certified mail and received all tags back. The only interest I ever received was from my Texas State House member, Carl Isett.  Representative Isett does not even serve on these committees but offered his assistance nevertheless.

If you have a way to bring these abuses to a larger audience, my family and I would greatly appreciate it. We were fortunate to have the means to hire attorneys and experts but most held there are poor minorities forced into a system stacked against them with court appointed lawyers who are so overburdened they don't even know their clients or the cases until court.

It was the absolute worst time of my life, not to mention my family's.  I'm sorry, I am beginning to cry just repeating it, but people need to know.  I just hope our experience can help someone else.  I have written almost every news agency and station about this and have, unfortunately, gotten very few responses.

Doing nothing and "letting it go" are NOT acceptable!  People need to care, or we will lose a whole generation of our kids.  We owe our children something better than this; They need us to use our conscience.   It’s amazing!  These are our children!  It is mind-boggling!   People don't seem to think (or want to believe) that this is possible, or that it could ever happen to their kids. Well, it can!

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