Saturday, August 23, 2008

Welcome to Families Against Restraint and Seclusion News Articles

Welcome to our blog! This blog is a continuation of Families Against Restraint and Seclusion, a national grass-roots organization that is working toward eliminating the overuse and unnecessary use of restraint and seclusion in public schools, and contains full news articles regarding restraint and seclusion use (and alleged overuse or unnecessary use) in public schools.

D.C. To Pay Middle School Students For Attendance, Behavior

POSTED: 7:32 pm EDT August 21, 2008
UPDATED: 11:13 pm EDT August 21, 2008

WASHINGTON -- D.C. will pay middle school students for attendance and behavior in an effort to get them to focus on school.

The city plans to spend about $3 million on the pilot program. The money will go to about 3,000 students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said it's during middle school when many students either learn the value of education or start down the road toward failing or dropping out.

"The middle school years are incredibly important," Rhee said. "We believe that this is the time for a radical intervention."

The pay-for-performance program will reward up to $100 every two weeks for attending classes, behaving well and achieving other goals.

"If this proposal and partnership seems a little bit outside of the box, it is," said D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Half of the city's 6,000 middle school students at 28 schools will be chosen for the program that will be run in part by a local bank and Harvard University.

The idea is not new. It's been practiced at different levels in many states.

Hardy Middle School Principal Patrick Pope said that some families with the means routinely reward students. Pope and Rhee said D.C. is just leveling the playing field for families that don't have those means.

"They have a lot of incentives to do the wrong thing outside of school, and what we need to do is counterbalance that," Rhee said.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Isolation room deemed to violate school, fire rules

09:22 AM EDT on Thursday, August 21, 2008

By Katie Mulvaney
Journal Staff Writer

Read the New Shoreham Facility Report:

BLOCK ISLAND — An isolation room set up in the basement of the Block Island School for students who needed to “chill out” violated state education regulations and the state fire code, according to a report by independent consultants.

The room violated regulations because its door had two sliding bolts on the outside, and also because staff members were unable to observe a student at all times through the small window in the door, the consultants concluded.

If a time-out room is needed for students in crisis, it should be a smaller, padded room that can be clearly observed, and equipped with a lock that disengages immediately when the person monitoring from the outside takes his or her hand away, the consultants said. The district should also develop clear policies for dealing with students who need crisis intervention, and all staff in the 150-student school should be trained in “de-escalation strategies.”

The School Committee called for the consultants’ review in June after the existence of the room –– referred to by some students as the “freak-out room” –– became public.

The Journal began asking questions about Room 20 after receiving an anonymous letter wondering whether it was being used for “unruly students.” In a DVD accompanying the letter, a camera slowly pans the corridor leading to Room 20 and shows a door with two bolts and a hole where a doorknob should be. The video also shows pillows and blankets in a jumble on the floor, an open utility outlet, chipped paint, and fingerprints smudging the walls. One window is boarded up with plywood.

The locks were removed June 10, the same day the Journal first asked to see the room and was refused.

The consultants said a lever door handle was on the door to Room 20 the day they toured the school later the same month.

The School Committee was briefed on the consultants’ findings at a meeting Monday, after which Chairman William Padien said, “As you stated, Room 20 will now be used for something else.”

Referring to the report as “phase 1,” Padien said the board would continue its investigation into “the matters that led to us having to get this report.” He could not be reached yesterday to elaborate.

Supt. Leslie A. Ryan, who doubles as the special-education director, did not comment on the findings at the meeting.

According to the report, Room 20 was initially set up as a brightly painted space where teachers could work with students individually. It also served periodically as a place for students to go voluntarily to “chill out,” or de-escalate, in a controlled, low-sensory environment, sometimes with staff interacting with them. At some point, its use became “more restrictive” to handle an overly aggressive boy.

“[T]heir intent was to reduce the impact of the student’s behavior on other students and at the same time, prevent other students from watching him when he was having a difficult time,” the report reads. It also said the boy was placed in the room a few times when he became so aggressive that he couldn’t be safely held and staff members were being hurt.

Ryan told the consultants that she called the student’s mother on each occasion that “the room was used in a restrictive manner.”

Another parent told the consultants that her daughter was also sent to the room as a consequence of an “undesired behavior.”

The consultants were Susan Stevenson, director of autism spectrum disorder services with Gateway Healthcare, and Christopher Suchmann, maintenance director at The Groden Center. Their work included conversations with staff and the parents of two children.

The report states that the parents were concerned about the use of restrictive procedures and expressed a desire to be involved in decision making and informed about interventions. State regulations require parental consent before these approaches are used.

Other districts use time-out rooms, but not ones that can be bolted from the outside, Stevenson said yesterday. “You don’t expect, because of fire-safety regulations, to see locks on doors.”

The report says that state regulations differentiate between “seclusion restraint” and “time-out procedures.” Seclusion restraint is confining a student alone in a room without access to school staff. This is prohibited in Rhode Island’s public schools. Time-out is allowable because a staff member remains “accessible to the student.”

The consultants did not indicate whether the use of Room 20 was ever considered “seclusion restraint.”

After The Journal’s story, the state Department of Education asked Block Island officials to report on any student who had been physically restrained. All districts are supposed to detail any time a school uses restraints, and the department had not received such reports from the district.

The district filed a restraint report with the state Aug. 4 in which Ryan detailed one incident that occurred last Nov. 30. In a letter accompanying that report, school lawyer Denise Myers referred to the event as one that “required temporary use of a latch” because a student was “attacking staff and trying to punch through a glass door” and continued to push and kick to get out of the room.

Myers said in the letter that “we are not acknowledging that a physical restraint occurred, as defined by the regulations.”

Elliot Krieger, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said the state did not agree with or dispute Myers’ representations. State education officials plan to visit the school for an on-site investigation this fall, he said.

In addition, state police detectives and Assistant Attorney General Susan Urso, chief of the juvenile division, are conducting their own investigation into the room after visiting the school in June in response to the DVD.

The attorney general’s office is still waiting for the district’s lawyer to get documents to corroborate the school’s official explanations about the room’s use, said Michael J. Healey, spokesman for the attorney general.

“The only thing we’re waiting for is documents to confirm what we heard out there,” Healey said.

Myers did not return two phone calls yesterday afternoon or respond to several questions posed by e-mail.

Healey and state police Maj. Steven G. O’Donnell said they did not think anything criminal had occurred.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Florida - Disturbing update to story about ESE teacher at Venice Elem in the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Printed on page A1
Concern about teacher not new
Complaints of abuse date back to 2005

By Tiffany Lankes

Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.

Staff members at Venice Elementary School say special education teacher Diana O'Neill called her students "retards" and hit them on the head when they answered questions incorrectly.

In 2005, two co-workers said she pulled a child's hand out of his mouth so hard she left a mark on his chin. That same year, another teacher said an aide saw O'Neill hold a child's nose and mouth shut while trying to feed her.

An investigative report released Monday by the school district details instances dating back to 2005 involving O'Neill, who has been charged with four counts of child abuse on her students.

But before this year, concerns about O'Neill never triggered a formal investigation or call to the state abuse hot line, where school employees are legally required to report abuse suspicions. The school's principal, Theresa Baus, warned O'Neill to watch her behavior, and passed complaints about the teacher on to district officials who left it up to Baus to handle.

Some teachers who suspected abuse and reported it to Baus were reprimanded for spreading gossip. And O'Neill stayed in the classroom, responsible for the well-being of a handful of the most vulnerable students in the district.

The teacher was arrested in February, after two classroom aides came forward with a log in which they documented more than a dozen instances when they say O'Neill hit, kicked and slapped students in her class.

Parents say they cannot fathom why action was not taken sooner.

"If a teacher is abusing kids, or is even suspected of abusing kids, you'd think they would report it," said Randi Munsell, whose son is one of the students O'Neill allegedly abused. "Maybe it would never have got to where it got with our kids."

The district's investigation was done by a private investigator hired to look into the most recent allegations against O'Neill and determine whether she can still work for the district.

O'Neill, who has taught special education at Venice elementary for 18 years, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been on administrative leave since her arrest.

School district spokesman Gary Leatherman said the district handled complaints about O'Neill appropriately. There was little evidence in the earlier cases to prove O'Neill physically harmed students, and none of the students in her class were injured.

"I don't know that anyone would have seen the previous reports as indicative of a pattern," Leatherman said. "Now, there's going to be a different perspective."

O'Neill's attorneys say that the aides mistook appropriate techniques for abuse.

They also point out that O'Neill is not accused of injuring any of the children. The attorneys say they have talked to former parents and students who speak highly of O'Neill's teaching abilities.

"There were numerous interviews with school employees and nurses who were in the classroom and never saw anything," said Peter Collins, one of O'Neill's attorneys.

According to the private investigator' s report, Baus said that O'Neill's aides may not have come forward sooner with their complaints about the teacher because they were afraid of the union.

"Diana is a senior union representative," Baus told investigators, the report says. "They were probably a little afraid of Diana, afraid of losing their jobs."

Pat Gardner, president of the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association says she doubts the employees feared the union.

"I don't know why they would think that," Gardner said. "As far as we are concerned, that is ridiculous."

The union was paying O'Neill's defense attorneys after she was arrested. Gardner would not say whether the union continues to pay O'Neill's legal bills.

The first event in the private investigator' s report happened in February 2005, when another special education teacher and an aide told Baus that O'Neill yanked a child's hand out of his mouth so hard that it left a mark on his chin.

Baus told investigators that she contacted John Zoretich, the district's director of elementary schools, who told her to check the student for marks. Baus did not see any, so she warned O'Neill to watch her behavior and started spending more time observing her classroom.

The following school year, two different staff members went to Baus and reported that one of her aides had seen O'Neill forcefully feed a student, holding the child's mouth and nose shut in the process. Another time she made a boy stand behind his chair until he fell down, the staff members reported.

Baus told the investigator that she went and talked to the aide, who said she did not know anything. Baus reprimanded the two staff members for spreading gossip.

The principal fielded another complaint about O'Neill in October 2007 when the school nurse came to her with concerns about two students in O'Neill's class who had bruises and scratch marks on them.

Again, Baus contacted Zoretich and special education coordinator Kathy Devlin.

And again, Baus met with O'Neill and warned her that no one should be hurt in her classroom. O'Neill said some of the marks were caused by a belt she was using to help one of the children stand.

At that time, the principal also talked to O'Neill about whether she was feeling burnt out from the intensity of the job. O'Neill told her she would think about it, the report stated.

"In my mind, if she was rough, it wasn't intentional," Baus told investigators. "Because it didn't continue, I didn't think anything more of it."

After the October situation, the two aides in O'Neill's class started keeping a detailed log of instances when they thought the teacher was too rough with her students.

It was not until January 29, when O'Neill allegedly struck a student in the head, that the aides came forward to a school nurse, who went to Baus about it.

That is when Baus called the abuse hot line and reported O'Neill.

Baus told investigators that she did not question the aides about why they did not come to her sooner, but thought that it was because the abuse was not constant.

"The other thing they told me, as an example, on December 3, she smacked a kid in the head, well that may take three seconds out of a day that is 405 minutes long; the rest of the day may have been great ... and then you may have two or three days when nothing happens at all ...

"So it wasn't like it was a nonstop, constant abuse that was occurring every day," Baus said.

This story appeared in print on page A1

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Former Waco ISD special education teacher charged in sexual assault case involving student

Waco Tribune-Herald

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A 26-year-old former Brazos Middle School special education teacher was arrested Wednesday after Waco police investigators alleged that she was having sex and smoking marijuana with a 14-year-old student from the school.

Tara Allison Hodges, now living in Katy, Texas, surrendered to police Wednesday morning and was charged with sexual assault of a child and improper relationship between educator and student, said Waco police Sgt. Melvin Roseborough.

Both charges are second-degree felonies. Hodges remained in the McLennan County Jail late Wednesday, held in lieu of $300,000 bond, a jail spokeswoman said.

Hodges' arrest warrant affidavit states that she "had sexual contact with (the 14-year-old boy) on at least 10 seperate occasions, and that during several of these encounters Tara Allison Hodges also smoked marijuana with (the boy)."

She was not charged with any drug-related offenses, officials said.

The affidavit says the sexual relationship lasted for about two months and specifically cites one occasion, on June 6, when Hodges picked the boy up in her car and took him to her apartment at Pecan Ridge Apartments, 2736 Lake Shore Drive, to have sex and smoke marijuana.

Hodges also gave the boy money and bought him shoes on at least two occasions, according to the affidavit.

Hodges' relationship with the boy extended until as recently as July 26, the affidavit says.

Waco Independent School District spokesman Dale Caffey said Wednesday he does not know whether the youth was a special education student.

Hodges had just completed her third year working for WISD as a special education inclusion teacher, he said. Inclusion teachers, as Caffey described, work with special education students to incorporate them into mainstream classrooms.

Caffey said Hodges resigned earlier this summer, telling WISD human resources that she had taken a teaching position in Katy. He said WISD officials learned of the police investigation last week.

"From the district's standpoint, when we learned of the investigation, we were shocked, extremely upset," Caffey said.

Caffey said the district does thorough background checks on all teaching hires, but acknowledged that it's not always possible to prevent such incidents, particularly when a job applicant's history gives no indication of threat.

"In this certain circumstance, I think it would have been hard to (foresee Hodges' alleged crimes)," Caffey said. "According to what I could see in her personnel file, this was her first professional teaching assignment."

Hodges' Web page on says she graduated from Texas State University in 2004 and lists her hometown as El Campo, Texas, just southwest of Houston. The page says she moved to Katy on Aug. 1.

Hodges' wrote on her Facebook page that her favorite TV shows included "Cops, I love shows about crime and I like watching prison, gang and drug documentaries for some reason!!!"

A current teacher at Brazos Middle School who asked to remain anonymous because he did not want his name associated with the story, said that he always knew Hodges as "a really nice person," and was surprised by the allegations. The teacher did not want to comment specifically about the charges.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Featured Article: Boy suffocated during school punishment: Coroner's Report

Graeme Hamilton, National Post, With Files From Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, June 20, 2008
Photos By John Kenney, Canwest News Service

MONTREAL - After nine-year-old Gabriel Poirier was discovered lifeless in his classroom last April 17, his parents were told their autistic son had stopped breathing after hiding under a heavy therapeutic blanket.

Now a coroner has revealed that Gabriel's teachers had tightly wrapped him in the buckwheat-stuffed blanket, leaving only the tips of his ears sticking out, as punishment when he became disruptive. They left him unsupervised in a corner for 20 minutes, returning when a timer sounded.

Gabriel was unconscious and blue in the face. He was rushed to hospital, where he died the following night surrounded by his family.

In a report published yesterday, Coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier concluded the child suffocated. She said the teachers at the special-needs school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., failed to follow guidelines for the blankets, which are used commonly to calm autistic children.

"He was only 53 pounds, he was so small," Gilles Poirier, the boy's father said at a news conference yesterday. "How can they wrap him up like that in a 40-pound blanket? How can this treatment be tolerated?"

Ms. Rudel-Tessier said proper use of the blanket called for a child to be rolled at most once and for his head to be left uncovered. The blanket was to be used as a relaxation therapy, not as a punishment, and teachers were supposed to keep an eye on children using the blankets.

"A child rolled 'at least four times' in such a heavy blanket is under restraint," the coroner wrote.

Jean-Pierre Menard, a lawyer representing Gabriel's parents, is calling for changes to legislation to control the use of restraints in schools. The parents are also planning to sue the Hautes-Rivieres school board.

The coroner said use of the blankets should be ceased until clear guidelines are established. Basic rules would include ensuring the blanket is not too heavy for the child, never covering the child's head, ensuring that vital signs can always be observed, never rolling the child in the blanket and ensuring the child can get out if he wants to.

Kathleen Provost, executive director of the Autism Society of Canada, said weighted blankets can be calming for autistic children when used under the guidance of an occupational therapist.

"They have a therapeutic use and can be relaxing," she said.

Mr. Menard said the parents were surprised to learn Gabriel had been placed in the blanket as a punishment. The school board had initially said it was a natural death and that Gabriel had gone under the blanket on his own.

"The principal said they found Gabriel under the blanket and he wasn't breathing. The parents thought that something had happened while he was sleeping and that was how he died," Mr. Menard said. He said the school board later told the media that Gabriel had hidden under the blanket.

Mr. Poirier said he cannot understand why his child was placed in a restraint. "He was a very gentle boy," he said. "Sometimes he was loud, but he was never aggressive or violent. I just don't understand how this happened," he said, tears streaming down his face.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fired Teacher Might Be Reinstated

Jane Sesser was let go for 'stomping' on a student's foot
By Mackenzie Ryan • Statesman Journal

August 10, 2008

The Willamette Education Service District was ordered recently to reinstate a special-education teacher who was fired after she allegedly "stomped on the foot" and used other unnecessary force with an autistic 10-year-old who could not talk.

In a split vote, the state Employment Relations Board decided in July that Jane Sesser should be reinstated as a Life Skills Program teacher in Yamhill County. The program serves about 90 students with cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities.

The district board may consider appealing the order, attorney Mark Comstock said. The board will meet at 7 a.m. Tuesday in executive session to hear legal advice.

"What the Willamette Education Service District was faced with was concern by staff members on site that there was abuse of a child going on," Comstock said. "(They) took action as they were supposed to do."

The teachers' union argued that Sesser was not adequately trained and that firing her was not proportionate, attorney Monica Smith said.

"This was a brand new teacher who was in a classroom for about six weeks, who faced the challenges that many special education teachers face" Smith said. "…It's a very tricky aspect of the job, to learn what's the right physical contact."

Unfounded dismissal

The Employment Relations Board orders the district to reinstate Sesser, repay her for wages she would have earned and delete information about her dismissal from her personnel file.

The order said Sesser's firing was not based on evidence found during an investigation, and there was no indication that she injured and traumatized the child.

However, there were indications Sesser had "serious difficulties" with her assignment, the order said.

While the autistic child could not tell someone if Sesser hurt him, the ruling said the district could have questioned employees or the child's parents about if he suffered emotional or physical injuries.

A district investigation had concluded that Sesser used unreasonable physical force.

Dave Novotney, deputy superintendent for the district, declined to comment, saying it was an ongoing personnel matter.

Incident investigated

According to the 34-page Employment Relations Board document, Sesser was working with an autistic child that tried to hit, kick and scratch her Oct. 3, 2005.

Sesser said she thought the fourth-grader might injure a medically fragile student in her classroom at the time. To calm him, Sesser put his hands between hers and told him: "quiet hands."

As he raised his foot to kick her, Sesser said she put her foot on top of his. She had not seen that technique used before, but thought it was similar to the one used with the child's hands.

A colleague saw the incident and it was relayed to a supervisor. Sesser was subsequently placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of child abuse.

A Yamhill County Sheriff's Office investigation said a colleague saw Sesser "stomp" on the child's foot and "push" him to the seat.

Sesser also was seen on an outing holding the child's hands on a cart "so tightly that I could see her fingers turning white."

In December 2005, Sesser was charged with harassment, a misdemeanor.

Criminal charges were dismissed two years later. Her actions also were not sufficient to warrant losing her teaching certificate. or (503) 399-6750

Monday, August 4, 2008

It’s a question of restraint for teachers of autistic kids

Parents, others upset by use of excess force
Updated: 08/03/08 10:15 AM

Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News
Tim Miller, in a speech to his ninth grade classmates, said: “Here we are with hope in our hearts, we have made it through the good and bad times.”
ALLEGANY — Tim Miller has a lot of “what ifs” running through his head.

What if he had never been held facedown by teachers when he was in sixth grade?

What if he had had more friends? What if he had never had autism?

As the number of autistic kids in schools grows, there are signs that teachers and administrators are having difficulty controlling them and addressing their special needs.

That can lead to conflict, and in some cases, to federal court. That’s where Carole and John Miller turned after not getting satisfaction through the state’s special education hearing process.

Their son Tim, a student at Allegany- Limestone Central High School, remembers being restrained facedown when he was 12. There is evidence he was restrained more than 10 times over a four-month period in 2005.

“I thought maybe they were taking his wrist. I didn’t like the idea, but I figured, they know better, they’re the instructors, the teachers,” Carole Miller said. “I asked him what happened when he got home from school, and he would always just say, ‘They’re trying to kill me.’ I thought he was overreacting.”

Dealing with troublesome children leaves some teachers with their own questions:

How much physical force can be used in restraining an unruly child?

How much time and attention should be given to the special-needs child without neglecting others?

Are there better ways to control a frustrated child who has special needs?

Brenda Shepard, a parent advocate who learned to navigate the system while helping her own autistic son, said if children aren’t given the services they need, they can become behavior problems.

“Ninety-nine percent of the mistakes made with my autistic son was [that] the people working with my son were so unfamiliar with the disability and they would trigger an outburst,” she said.

In Tim Miller’s case, it’s important to get a federal court ruling, his parents say, because last September a staff member threw him to the ground three times when he tried to go into the principal’s office.

Allegany-Limestone school officials would not comment for this story.

“We take the privacy of our children very seriously,” said Superintendent Diane Munro. “In the interest of a child’s privacy rights, and in line with the fact this is a matter that is in litigation, I am unable to contribute.”

Tim, 15, is one of about 40 children in Cattaraugus County classified as autistic. The number has been increasing in recent years not just in Western New York but across the country.

In Erie County, the number of children with autism jumped 63 percent between 2003 and 2006. In New York State, the number went up 46 percent over the same time.

John Miller, a podiatrist, and Carole Miller, a pharmacist with multiple sclerosis, were angry when they learned their son had been held down, sometimes with one teacher lying ov er his back while another held his legs. They were outraged when they learned that children in institutional settings around the country have died from asphyxiation after being restrained in similar ways.

“I never dreamed, never dreamed, never in my wildest dream — nightmare — could I think that they could do that to him,” said John Miller. “To this day, we do not know how many times he was restrained during that period of time.”

The teachers’ logs he obtained tell a story of a disruptive 12-year-old and adults’ efforts to control him. His parents don’t dispute that Tim sometimes can be disruptive and difficult, but they say there are techniques that will prevent meltdowns. Other actions — like touching him and holding him down — often trigger them.

The issue of restraints is a touchy one, particularly for schools that must protect the student, sometimes from himself, as well as from other children and staff members.

“When it comes to restraining, the teachers are between a rock and a hard place,” said Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

Buffalo teachers deal with 9,400 students with disabilities, or about 19 percent of the student population.

“We’ve always advised teachers if you don’t have to, don’t — only if its an emergency. It’s just too easy for a child to get hurt,” Rumore said.

Great strides have been made in recent years in identifying children with autism, which helps them to get treatment earlier, said Lynda Quick, assistant superintendent of Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES.

“How to treat these children is more understood now,” she said, adding that restraints are a last resort. “But they are indeed sometimes necessary for professionals trained in how to do proper restraints.”

Margaret Jones-Carey, associate superintendent for Erie 1 BOCES, said training on how to administer restraints includes preventive measures and techniques on defusing a situation before the restraint becomes necessary to protect the student, other children, staff or property.

But there are better ways to deal with people, said Veronica Federiconi, executive director of Autistic Services.

“The use of restraints doesn’t really teach people anything, except to be afraid or to run away from people who practice it,” she said. “It doesn’t teach them the correct way of dealing with life.”

Still, restraints are allowed under New York State law.

“Restraints are an emergency practice,” said Patricia Geary, coordinator of special-education policy for the state Education Department. “They should never be a routine.”

Tim has Asperger’s syndrome, which is a form of autism. It’s marked by the same social challenges as autism — such as difficulty in reading body language — without the language or cognitive delays.

Ninth grade agreed with Tim for the most part. He was mainstreamed into regular classrooms and passed all his classes in June. He even spoke at an assembly held to motivate students to be more compassionate in dealing with others.

He apologized for getting agitated in front of his fellow students and invited them to a party at his house.

“It doesn’t matter if someone is popular or not, or being the smartest student in class, or is amazing at sports or electronics, but the only thing that does matter is to try hard and be nice,” he told his classmates.

While he hopes his arrival in heaven is many years away, he’s looking forward to it because his mother and others have told him all things are possible in heaven.

“I would definitely have a lot more friends,” Tim said. “I don’t know if it’s possible, I don’t know if it’s like this forever if you’re in heaven, but, you know what would be an amazing, incredible what if? What if I never had autism?”

Friday, August 1, 2008

Special Education Struggles In School

By: Alysha Palumba (WIBV)
July 30, 2008 05:08 PM EDT
Updated: July 30, 2008 06:45 PM EDT
Video On Demand

Special education struggles in school
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - - Young people dealing with Autism or Asperger Syndrome often face an uphill battle in the classroom. One family's struggle with schooling and takes a look at how schools handle the challenge of teaching these special students.

When Tim Miller started coming home from school in sixth grade telling his parents horror stories, they didn't know what to think.

John Miller, Tim's Father, said, "Our son was coming home and telling us the school was trying to kill him - with his communication deficits at the time he didn't know how to say he was being restrained."

John Miller says his son, who has Asperger Syndrome or a higher functioning form of autism, was being put in prone restraints when he acted out in class. Although he admits Tim, then 12, had behavioral issues, he believes the school went too far.

Tim Miller, teen with Asperger Syndrome, said, "I remember they just grabbed me and put me into the room or whatever and I remember they had the mat and just threw me to the ground."

John Miller, Tim's Father, said, "Every time they restrained my son, they were stepping outside of their training."

Summit Educational Resources CEO Dr. Stephen Anderson says in general restraints are a last resort.

Dr. Stephen Anderson, Summit Educational Resources CEO, said, "Restraint is the emergency procedure, it's the back up, it's the thing you may have to do if all else fails and there's a risk to the individual or others."

But the Millers say the restraints were just part of their problem with the Allegany-Limestone Central School District.

John Miller, Tim's Father, said, "Crucial in this whole thing are the denied services. Allegany-Limestone Central Schools I believe intentionally mis-classified my son for six years."

Miller says if Tim had been classified as autistic when he was diagnosed, he would have received the social, behavioral, and educational services he needs.

But Dr. Anderson says that may not be the case in public schools.

Dr. Stephen Anderson, Summit Educational Resources CEO, said, "If a kid is achieving academically, I'm not sure what their responsibility is after that, we'd all like them to embrace and do more, but their resources are limited as well."

He says it's a difficult balance for schools to meet the needs of children with autism or Asperger Syndrome while not disrupting the education of other children.

Dr. Stephen Anderson, Summit Educational Resources CEO, said, "I don't think school districts have ever seen this with the frequency that they're starting to see it now because they're keeping kids with more challenging behaviors within the context."

Both the Allegany-Limestone Superintendent and the school's attorney would not comment because of privacy issues and because Tim Miller's case is currently in litigation.

An impartial hearing on the matter was overturned, and it is now headed to federal court.

Story by Alysha Palumbo (WIVB)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Charges against teacher tossed

Fulton judge says defendant accused of hitting two pupils didn't intend to harm them.
Friday, July 25, 2008
By Kathy Coffta Sims
Staff writer

A Fulton City Court judge has dismissed the charges against a special education teacher who was accused of striking two developmentally disabled students in May 2007.

Judge Spencer Ludington said in court Wednesday that he did not think Gracia Thompson, 45, of 56 W. Third St., Fulton, intended to harm thestudents.

Thompson was facing two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, stemming from incidents in the spring of 2007 at Lanigan ElementarySchool in Fulton.

"I believe it is fair to suggest that this was a reaction to the behavior of an aggressive child," Ludington said.

Thompson's lawyer, James Eby, told the judge that Thompson, who has been at the district since 1999, was assigned to students who have profound mental and physical disabilities. He said the students often have tantrums and throw objects at, scream at, hit and spit at theirteachers.

He said the incidents that resulted in charges against Thompson involved two students, one of whom is profoundly disabled. He said Thompson was trying to teach that student, a 7-year-old, how to urinate in the toilet when he turned on her and spat at her.

"She did smack his upper thigh a few times to redirect him to the task at hand." Eby said. He said that student had no signs of physical injury and was never seen by a nurse or doctor.

A teacher's aide brought the incident to the attention of the district and they conducted a thorough investigation, Eby said. He said the district came up withan appropriate administrative remedy and that when Thompson returned to the classroom, she received a letter from the boy's mother, welcoming her back.

Oswego County Assistant District Attorney Gregory Oakes told Ludington that the mother did not have the full story of what happened when she wrote the letter.

"She regrets having written that letter," Oakes said. "Now that sheis aware of what happened, she certainly has a different opinion."

Oakes said that the boy's mother spoke to two aides who told her she didn't have the full story of what happened that day in the classroom. It was then that she went to the Fulton Police Department.

Eby said in the second incident Thompson put up her hand to prevent a5-year-old child from butting his head into her head or body. He said she reacted with a defensive motion and did not intend to hurt thechild.

Eby said Thompson's account of that incident was confirmed by an aide who was present in the room when it happened.

Oakes, who had offered to let Thompson plead guilty to two counts of second-degree harassment, told the judge that witnesses to that incident said Thompson was frustrated and hit the victim three or four times in the back of the head, saying "How do you like it?"

"That's acting out of anger and frustration," Oakes said.

But Ludington, who read aloud from several of Thompson's performance evaluations, said that he did not believe that the evidence showed that Thompson acted in any way that was injurious to the child.

He said that neither student was treated by a doctor or nurse for any injuries and that by all accounts, Thompson was a person of good character who was an asset to the Fulton school district.

Earlier in the proceeding, Eby questioned whether the district attorney's office had allowed the evidence in the case to be considered by a grand jury.

"It's clear to me there was no grand jury involved. Therefore, the subpoena that was issued was improperly issued," Eby said. "This is a bunch of baloney. I ask the court to put an end to this matter, hereand now."

Ludington agreed with Eby."There is absolutely no evidence that a grand jury was properly impaneled to review this matter," the judge said. "The district attorney has no authority to issue grand jury subpoenas.

"Thompson had been reassigned to the district office when she was charged. Late last year, Superintendent William Lynch said Thompson would not be allowed back into the classroom until the court proceedings against her were resolved.

Lynch was not available to comment on Thompson's status on Thursday.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mom wants school to explain son's injuries

Austin mother suspects substitute teacher injured her special needs child.

By Molly Bloom
Saturday, July 26, 2008

One Wednesday in January, 4-year-old Alex González came home from his pre-K class at Andrews Elementary School in Northeast Austin with three big bumps on his head, bruises under his arms and tears in his eyes.

Alex is autistic and communicates through gestures and guttural sounds, so his mother, Rosalía García, couldn't ask her son how he got hurt. Instead, she asked the school's assistant principal.

García says that she is still waiting for answers.

Because neither Alex's family nor school staff noticed any injuries when Alex left for school, his parents believe that their son's injuries occurred while he was in class with a substitute teacher.

The sub, a 69-year-old retired postal worker named Gilbert Lazalde, said in an interview with the American-Statesman that he did not hurt Alex and did not know how the injuries occurred.

The district's police department has closed its investigation into Alex's injuries and has not charged Lazalde with a crime.

School records show that teachers at two campuses had complained about how Lazalde treated students before Alex was injured. Lazalde was eventually terminated from his position as a substitute after teachers at four separate campuses complained about his behavior, but district records do not indicate that Alex's injuries played any part in the termination.

Though the Austin school district allows school principals to bar specific substitutes from their campuses and file administrative complaints about subs who violate campus or district rules, it has no specific policy requiring the district to fire substitutes who have amassed multiple complaints.

And though the district's substitute handbook warns substitutes that violations of any district or campus policy can result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, Lazalde wasn't terminated until teachers at four Austin elementary schools reported accusations that he had pinched, shoved and been verbally abusive to students.

García says Alex's story shows what can happen when adults with limited teaching experience or training are put in charge of some of the most vulnerable, and often most difficult to manage, children. A substitute teacher with multiple complaints against him should never have come in contact with her son, she said.

"I can't believe they allow (those) people to work with disabled students," García, who speaks limited English, said in Spanish.

Six months after Alex was hurt, district officials, who didn't initially tell García that a substitute was supervising her son the day he was hurt, have yet to tell her what they know about the events leading to his injuries, she said.

They have also declined to release the police report on his injuries, citing state laws on the confidentiality of child abuse investigations.

Special education shortage

There are no statewide requirements for substitute teachers beyond submitting fingerprints and passing a national criminal background check to show they haven't been convicted of a violent or sexual crime against a public school student. A search of public records found that Lazalde does not have a criminal history.

The Austin school district also requires its substitutes to have at least 60 hours of college credit and attend a one-day training session, requirements similar to or more rigorous than those of most other large Texas school districts and most other Central Texas districts.

The Austin's district's substitute handbook doesn't discuss teaching students with special needs, though a 290-page supplementary manual used in substitute orientation devotes four pages to the subject. That's four more pages than the Round Rock school district's 12-page substitute teacher's handbook devotes to it.

About 860, or 27 percent, of Austin's substitutes were certified teachers in 2007-08, according to the district. Last year, 3 percent of substitutes were certified to teach special education classes, and less than 1 percent were certified bilingual teachers.

Special education and bilingual teachers are in high demand statewide, district spokesman Andy Welch said, and special education and bilingual substitute teachers also are in short supply.

In a June letter to García, associate superintendent Claudia Tousek wrote that the district's substitute office is "exploring opportunities" to offer additional workshops on working with students with special needs. District officials declined to discuss Alex's injuries with the Statesman.

Teacher responds to claims

Lazalde said that on Jan. 16 he was subbing for Alex's special education teacher when, after walking Alex from one classroom to another, he saw the bumps on Alex's head. Lazalde said that he immediately reported them to campus staff. Lazalde said that he was never alone with Alex except when he walked him from one classroom to another. Even then other teachers were in the hallway, Lazalde said.

Lazalde said he received "absolutely no training" from the district on dealing with children with special needs before he began working in the classroom.

"They never really mentioned autistic," he said. "They just said, 'Don't mess with the kids' and stuff like that."

District records show that Lazalde, who is fluent in Spanish, completed 112 substitute teaching assignments from September 2007 through March 2007, most of them in English as a Second Language or bilingual classes.

But prior to subbing in Alex's class at Andrews, Lazalde was asked by administrators in October at Allan Elementary School in East Austin and Travis Heights Elementary School in South Austin not to return to their campuses.

Teachers at both schools said Lazalde was rude and physically abusive to students, according to substitute office reports provided by the district under the Texas Public Information Act.

According to the reports, Lazalde is accused of pinching Allan students to get their attention and telling one special education student, "Shut up. What are you retarded?"

Lazalde replied to the accusations in writing, saying that he did not pinch students and didn't recall telling students to shut up.

"In Spanish I repeatedly said, 'callense' [Be quiet] and 'silencio, [Silence]' " he wrote. "I admit that I did use the word 'retarded.' I did not call the student retarded but used it in questioning his behavior."

Lazalde apologized for calling the student "retarded," saying he didn't know the student had a disability. In a letter, he told the district's substitute office that being a substitute teacher was a "hard learning experience" and asked for advice or reading materials to help him deal with difficult classroom situations.

Complaints continue

After Alex was injured at Andrews, Alex's teacher also asked that Lazalde not return. The teacher reported that another special education student Lazalde was escorting fell and cut her lip and that his explanation of how and where it happened "didn't seem to match."

In a written response to that report, Lazalde wrote that he had no idea why the girl fell. Lazalde said he immediately took her to the school nurse.

In his response, Lazalde also explained that he did "restrain a couple [students] on several occasions in an effort to gain control of them and get them to follow my directions. ... Short of using severe physical punishment (which I would never do) I don't know what other techniques I could have used."

Two months later, Lazalde was asked not to return to Pleasant Hill Elementary School after a fourth-grade teacher reported that her students complained that Lazalde had shoved them, poked them and pulled their arms.

After that complaint in March, the district removed him from their substitute list and barred him from working for the school district again.

Lazalde said he has since taken a part-time job in a field unrelated to education.

Rosalía García, Alex's mother, said that in the weeks after being injured, Alex, the eldest of her four children, was fearful of going to school. Just passing by his school bag hanging in the hallway could make him cry, she said.

Earlier this month, Alex squirmed on his father's lap, eager to get up and greet visitors to the family's apartment off Cameron Road.

Alex bore no visible, permanent scars from his injuries. But his parents are still angry that their son was hurt at school and that no one has told them for certain how he was injured. "I just want to know what happened," García said.

The accusations

Retired postal worker Gilbert Lazalde, 69, was barred from working in Austin schools after teachers at four campuses reported student complaints that he was physically and verbally abusive:

Oct. 22, 2007 —An Allan Elementary School teacher reported that students said Lazalde pinched them, told them to 'shut up' and called a special education student 'retarded.' Lazalde responded to the accusations in writing, saying that he did not pinch students and didn't recall telling students to shut up. He said he did not realize the student had any disabilities and intended to call the student's behavior, not the student himself, 'retarded.'

Oct. 25 —A Travis Heights Elementary School teacher reported that Lazalde was 'rude' to students, told them to 'shut up' several times and touched one student on the shoulder in a way the student thought was 'rough.'

Lazalde replied in writing that students were unruly — one hit him in the chest with a rock, he said — and that he was sorry he told students to shut up. Lazalde said he touched a student on the shoulder with a rolled up lesson plan to get the student's attention. 'It was not in any way "rough" or violent,' he said.

Jan. 18, 2008 —Teachers at Andrews Elementary School reported that Lazalde's explanation of how and where a special education student he was escorting fell and cut her lip 'didn't seem to match.'

Alex Gonzalez comes home from his class supervised by Lazalde with injuries including large bumps on his head.

Lazalde replied in writing a month later saying, 'I was walking right beside her. There were no obstacles in her way. ... I have no idea why she fell!' He said he took her to see the school nurse right away. He said in an interview that he did not injure Alex.

March 7 — A Pleasant Hill Elementary School teacher asked the district not to send Lazalde to the campus again after fourthgraders complained that Lazalde had shoved them into their chairs, poked them and pulled their arms. 'One (student) said he hit her,' the teacher wrote.

SOURCE: Austin school district documents; 445-3620 ¡Ahora Sí! staff writer Tania Lara contributed to this story.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Substitute teacher gets probation for taping unruly student to seat

By Charles Keeshan (Chicago) Daily Herald Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2008 4:08 PM Updated: 7/15/2008 5:43 PM

A substitute teacher who taped a pair of rambunctious 8-year-old special education students to their seats was spared forced confinement himself Tuesday when a judge sentenced him to probation instead of prison on a pair of felony convictions.

Matthew Konetski, 32, of South Beloit, Ill., must serve two years probation, pay a $1,500 fine and perform 80 hours public service under the sentence handed down by a McHenry County judge.

The sentence comes about six weeks after a jury found Konetski guilty of aggravated battery and unlawful restraint for a March 2006 incident in which he taped one of his students at Harvard's Jefferson Elementary School to his seat, then put tape over the boy's mouth when the boy would not sit still.

The taping, according to trial testimony, lasted between two and five minutes.

Authorities initially charged Konetski with doing the same to a second student, but prosecutors opted not to go to trial on those allegations.

The mother of the boy whose case did go to trial said she is satisfied with the sentence.

"I never wanted to put him in jail," she said. "I just wanted him held accountable."

In a letter to the court, the mother said her son, who's been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, began acting out after the incident. At one point, she writes, the boy was hospitalized for more than 30 days.

"(He), 26 months later, still wakes up screaming 'Let me go!,' " the letter states.

During his trial, Konetski testified that he taped the boys as a last resort when they would not stop getting up in class. Although he was a first-year substitute with no special education training, Konetski was left alone with the special education students without two aides normally assigned to the class.

He apologized Tuesday for his actions, saying he never intended to harm or scare the boys.

"I was just trying to come up with a way to deal with a situation I didn't know how to deal with," he said.

County prosecutors had asked for a jail sentence along with the probation term, saying a stiff sentence would send a message to the public.

"(The victim) experienced being confined in his chair that day by this defendant," Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said. "We feel that he, in turn, should be confined in the McHenry County jail."

Konetski will not have to register as a sex offender because, Judge Sharon Prather ruled, there is no evidence his actions were sexually motivated.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Restraint called common at school; Youths describe practices at facility where boy died

This is another instance of a restraint death, this time at a private school in 2007:

By Greg Garland and Annie Linskey
Baltimore Sun
February 2, 2007

As authorities continued to investigate the death of a youth who was being restrained at the Bowling Brook Preparatory School, four young men held there said the school's staff routinely restrained students - sometimes for hours and for minor infractions.

The accounts by the four youths, all juvenile offenders, describe practices that conflict with what state policies and experts say are the proper and widely accepted methods of physically controlling unruly youths. The use of physical restraint should be brief and done only as a last resort to keep a youth from injuring himself or someone else, state officials say.

In separate interviews with The Sun, one youth said he was held to the ground by Bowling Brook staff for four hours as punishment for talking during a meal.

Another said he was restrained four times in his 18 months at the school. A third described the restraint of students as "a regular occurrence" and estimated that he saw it happen once a week.
Three of the four complained that when they were restrained, they had had trouble breathing while being held down.

Officials at Bowling Brook, a privately run residential program for juvenile offenders, declined to comment yesterday on the youths' allegations.

The young men were interviewed outside Baltimore's juvenile court as they were released to home detention.

The four were among at least 40 youths who have been removed from Bowling Brook at the request of the Maryland public defender's office since the death last week of Isaiah Simmons, 17, who lost consciousness after being restrained by staff for more than three hours.

At least four youths who witnessed the attack have said staff members "sat on" Simmons while he was held facedown on the ground, according to the Maryland public defender. Two witnesses have told The Sun that Simmons complained during the incident that he couldn't breathe.

The school has said in a written statement that its handling of Simmons was proper.

An expert who teaches restraint techniques to state workers said the training emphasizes that "no weight should be applied" to a youth held facedown in a prone position. "No program will say sit or kneel on them," said Danny Martinez of Jireh Consulting and Training in Albuquerque, N.M. He said most incidents of restraint last one to five minutes.

His firm has been teaching the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services employees who train workers at state-run facilities for about five years but is not involved with any training program at the privately run Bowling Brook.

Youths who were interviewed yesterday described witnessing or being subjected to lengthy periods of restraint.

Maurice Holmes, 18, said he was held to the ground for four hours the first time he was restrained. "It felt like I was going to die," he said. "I'm blowing snot out my nose. I'm saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe.'"

Raymond Aur, 17, said he saw people restrained almost every day during his 10 months at Bowling Brook.

He said he was restrained in a seated position three times and on the ground four times. In July, he said, he was restrained for four hours because he disobeyed orders and spoke during a meal.
He said workers took him outside and pressed his face into fresh-cut grass. His face was covered with bruises and cuts, he said, and at one point he urinated on himself.

Aur said that three staff members held him down and that the men worked in shifts so that when one got tired, another would take his place. After they released him, Aur said, the guards told him that he had been restrained for four hours - and now "owed" the school four hours of work.

He said he had pain in his arms that continued until the next day, when the staff took him to the hospital. His mother, Sheila Aur, showed a reporter a hospital bill for $386 that was sent to her.

The description is for "services for Raymond D. Aur rendered at Carroll Hospital Center" on July 17.

Sheila Aur said that when she visited her son that weekend, he "looked like he'd been beaten by 10 people. ... They said that Ray had been restrained for a long time."

While the state Department of Juvenile Services allows workers at its state-run facilities to use facedown restraint, some programs prohibit that because of the potential to cause harm.

Staff at the Glen Mills Schools, a well-regarded program for juvenile offenders in Pennsylvania, are told not to put a youth facedown, said Jack Rachko, who oversees training there.

"We tell them to do everything possible to keep him faceup," he said. "We never want them facedown, always faceup - and you always monitor their breathing."

He said it is rare for a youth at Glen Mills to be physically restrained for longer than 10 minutes, and it would be brought to the attention of high-level supervisors if a restraint went on for much longer than that.

"You gain control and it's over, usually within 10 minutes," Rachko said. "We don't have extended restraints going on and on and on."

Maryland's policies say physical force - including restraint - is to be used as a last resort and that "only the minimum amount of physical force necessary to control the youth may be used."

But Nichelle Vandervall said her son, who is 16, was restrained with such force that on one occasion, his elbow was dislocated and a blood vessel in his eye burst. "It scared him to death," she said. "He hasn't been restrained since then."

But Vandervall has mixed feelings about the facility. She's noticed a positive change in her son's attitude. "He's not as aggressive as he was," she said.

"Bowling Brook, what they stand for, the opportunity is excellent," she said. "My son is much better than what he was when he got there. He sees that he can be something other than a drug dealer."

Investigators with the Department of Juvenile Services inspect private facilities like Bowling Brook several times a year, according to department spokesman Edward Hopkins. The most recent visit to Bowling Brook was Jan. 12, less than two weeks before Simmons' death. "There were no negatives, no deficiencies or things like that" found in the unscheduled visit, Hopkins said.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Autopsy: restraint killed student at Killeen school

July 17, 2008: We just became aware of this article and wanted to share his story. Staff withheld food as punishment from a child they knew to have been deprived food as a baby. When he attempted to leave the classroom in search of food, staff restrained him. Another child died at the hands of educators who should have known better...

Monday, March 25, 2002

KILLEEN, Texas (AP) - A 14-year-old boy who died after being restrained in a classroom by his teachers perished from an excessive amount of pressure to his chest, a preliminary autopsy shows.

Cedrick Napoleon, a special-education student at Manor Middle School, died March 7 about an hour after being restrained. School officials said he was causing problems in his behavior management class.

A female teacher and two aides remain on leave from the school, and police said the case is likely to be referred to a grand jury.

The autopsy revealed Friday that Napoleon died from "mechanical compression of the trunk," which forensics officials say is a form of suffocation.

Killeen police said the investigation is ongoing. The school district, which has been working with police, also is conducting an internal investigation.

Police said the teacher and a male aide attempted to restrain Cedrick, who was 4-foot-11 and weighed 129 pounds, in the classroom. Another aide was in the room with about a dozen students, police said.

The teen's foster parents, Wilbert and Toni Price, said classroom staff had restricted Cedrick's food as punishment for his misbehavior.

"But for him, that was a very bad punishment, because when he was a little baby, he was deprived of food," Wilbert Price said. "He liked food. It was like a security blanket for him. And they were aware of this."

Cedrick was trying to leave the classroom in search of food when he was restrained, Toni Price said.

She said Cedrick's classmates told her that he told the person holding him down, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I give."

Toni Price said Cedrick was a peaceful boy who loved football and basketball and someday wanted to open his own doughnut shop.

"Cedrick always had a big smile," she said, noting Cedrick had been in their care for 16 months.

"On that day, Cedrick wasn't doing anything violent. He wasn't fighting anyone. He wasn't hurting anyone.

"And for him to have had to lost his life like that is a crime, and somebody should pay for that."

Charles Patterson, Killeen Independent School District superintendent, said in a news release Friday that he would like "to convey that the heartfelt thoughts of personnel in the district continues for the family in the loss of Cedrick."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

St. Lucie School District sued by another mother claiming abuse

Reported by: Eric English
Photographer: Eric English
Last Update: 7:19 pm
July 16, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL-- You will probably remembe the case of Alex Barton. His mother claims he was ‘voted out of his classroom’ by his classmates several months ago. Now another parent in St Lucie county is suing the school district claiming her son was also abused.

“I almost passed out when he went like that because I couldn't breath.”

Isaiah Moore recounts an April 2007 incident he and his mother say they will never forget.

Video supplied to Isaiah's mother by the school district shows the then second grader, who is in the autistic spectrum, being escorted down a hallway to a conference room by a behavior specialist.

His mother says what's not on the video is the abuse that happened next.

Anna Moore says, “He was dragging him down the hallway into a little room. The little room they went into is where my son says he started restraining him again...and my son suffered a busted lip, cervical strain, busted lip.”

The video cuts, but later shows the boy along with additional staff walking back through the halls. Isaiah seems to be favoring his back.

Photos taken later that day show the scrapes and bruises and cuts Isaiah suffered.

Anna says “There are verified findings that there was physical abuse, bizarre punishment and maltreatment to my child...yet I can't get anyone to press charges and this man is probably still working with children.”

Now in private school, his mom says Isaiah is getting the compassion in education she says he needs and wants her lawsuit to help set standards for dealing with exceptional children in a school district that has seen been called to question for the way it treats autistic children.

“I am coming forward because there are no laws to protect our children. I thought this was clear cut abuse, and something is going to happen...nothing has happened. Nothing has happened.”

The school district would not comment on the pending litigation.