"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Unmerry Christmas

UPDATE: Perhaps Kentucky could take a look at what Wisconsin (and many other US states) are up to in this area. Not that Wisconsin is a light shining in the wilderness - it's previous "incidents" include a teenager with PTSD who died when his teacher sat on him and a 4 year old with CP and autism being strapped to a pretend (look alike) electric chair.

Sifting through my email this morning, I came across this story.

This story that almost defines words.
A 9-year-old autistic boy who misbehaved at school was stuffed into a duffel bag and the drawstring pulled tight, according to his mother, who said she found him wiggling inside as a teacher's aide stood by.

The mother of fourth-grader Christopher Baker said her son called out to her when she walked up to him in the bag Dec. 14. The case has spurred an online petition calling for the firing of school employees responsible.

"He was treated like trash and thrown in the hallway," Chris' mother, Sandra Baker, said Thursday. She did not know how exactly how long he had been in the bag, but probably not more than 20 minutes.
And just what did this young boy do to ... deserve ... such treatment, you may ask?
Baker said when school officials called the family to pick him up, they were told he was "jumping off the walls." Days later, at a meeting with school officials, Baker said she was told the boy had smirked at the teacher when he was told to put down a basketball, then threw it across the room.
But don't fret, gentle reader. All will be fine. After all, the matter is being ... investigated.
Mercer County schools Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis said confidentiality laws forbid him from commenting.
"The employees of the Mercer County Public Schools are qualified professionals who treat students with respect and dignity while providing a safe and nurturing learning environment," Davis said in a statement.  
And there is, of course, legitimate reason for using a duffel bag in such a manner.
At a meeting with school district officials, the bag was described as a "therapy bag," Baker said, though she wasn't clear exactly what that meant. She said her son would sometimes be asked to roll over a bag filled with balls as a form of therapy, but she didn't know her son was being placed in the bag. She said school officials told her it was not the first time they had put him in the bag.
After all, it's not like this sort of thing occurs on a regular basis.
A July letter from the state agency to special education directors said the state had investigated two informal complaints this year.
In one, "a student (was) nearly asphyxiated while being restrained," and in the other, a student vomited from panic attacks after spending most of an academic year "confined to a closet, with no ventilation or outside source of light," according to the letter.
So. What are we to make of this?

In Kentucky, there are no laws on using restraint or seclusion in public schools.

I'm not aware of any "time out" bags being used in Nova Scotia, but we're all very aware what can happen time out rooms aren't regulated. Or, sometimes, even when they supposedly are.

It boggles the mind to think that such a thing could happen in the US, of all places, with their plethora of safeguards against just such abuse.

The woman who started a petition in this matter, herself autistic, stated "That would not be wrong just for an autistic student. That would be wrong to do to anyone".

Might I suggest that the only statement that need be made (if any) is that such a thing should not be done to any student. Ever. Period.

This is not just a lawsuit waiting to be filed. It's a lawsuit begging to be filed.

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