NYSED's complaint investigation records on Time Out rooms were obtained. Their own records show that while they do, on occasion, order districts to stop doing what they're doing, they do not order any discipline for anyone, no matter how egregious the abuse; further, they do not even have a list of districts which have time out rooms. And when Assemblyman Sanders, Chair of the NYS Education Committee, asked NYSED/VESID for the logs of their "routine" time out room inspections, allegedly done during IDEA monitoring, he never received one page or one item of information in reply.
The NYS Commission on the Quality of Care reports to the NYS Legislature for 2004 re school abuse of time out rooms contained the following reports:
Challenging the Use of Time-Out Rooms: The Commission's Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD) program in Syracuse, Legal Services of Central New York (LSCNY), intervened on behalf of a five-year-old child with autism who repeatedly was put in a school based time-out room. The student, who engaged in self-injurious behavior, received no supervision while in the room. LSCNY requested an Impartial Hearing that led to a settlement of the issue. Later, the LSCNY attorney filed a New York State Education Department (NYSED) complaint on the use of the time-out room. The NYSED findings verified the violations and citations were issued to the school district to bring an end to the misuse of the time-out room as a behavior modification tool.-- NYS Commission on the Quality of Care Report to the NYS Legislature, April-June, 2004.
Helping a Special Education Student Kept in Time-Out: The WNYADD advocate came to the aid of a special education student who had been punished on twenty-two occasions by being place in a small locked room with no supervision. On one occasion, the student was found on the floor of the room after having suffered an apparent seizure. On its face, it appears the school violated the State Education Department --NYS Commission on the Quality of Care Report to the NYS Legislature, Jan-March, 2004.
Then there was the Utica court case, where the court awarded a parent over $100,000 because of "cruel and inhumane" treatment the child suffered in school - he was thrown into a time out room so often, and for so long, the child clawed his fingers bloody trying to get out.
In addition to what Dee cites above, there's the current case (part of the impetus for the proposed emergency regulations) where Hicksville parents are suing Nassau BOCES and the Hicksville School District for $190 million for repeatedly confining their 15-year old disabled son in a padded 5' x 6' room at the Rosemary Kennedy Center in Wantagh. The parents allege that BOCES staff members locked up their son -- and never even notified them -- about 40 times last year during a five-month period -- sometimes up to 50 minutes at a stretch. Their son is "mentally retarded," claustrophobic and suffers from seizures, according to medical and legal records obtained by Newsday.
Perhaps lesser known is the case of an unclassified student on Long Island who was repeatedly placed in a Time Out room. His mother had repeatedly requested that he be evaluated for special education classification and help. The district never evaluated him. That mother is also suing.
Now keep in mind that the incidents in this blog entry relate to the use of Time-Out rooms, which are addressed under separate provisions in the proposed emergency regulations. But think about this:
If NYSED doesn't adequately monitor Time-Out room use, what on earth makes you think that they would adequately monitor the use of aversives? Because aversives are more serious than time-out, you think? Think again.
The only way to protect children from abuse in school is to bar it and then hold those who engage in barred actions criminally and civilly accountable.
Contact the Board of Regents and tell them that they should vote NO! on the proposed regulations.
And since I don't know how to promote a diary entry on Daily Kos, if you can help me spread the word, please help.