posted by siding with Emily also (not verified) on September 29, 2012
I watched the linked video about the boy in the duffle bag. I think it should be pointed out that the wording "stuffed in a duffle bag" makes it sound like the child's entire head and body were inserted. It is not clear this was the case, and I doubt it was. More than likely, since the state of KY allows this practice, the bag covered the body up to the torso, creating a kind of impromptu straight jacket. Unpleasant, ugly, disturbing? Absolutely. Why do they allow it? Probably because some kids with mental illnesses can become extremely violent and dangerous and verbal commands and even threats of punishment won't work. When a child is going out of control and could be an immediate threat to others or himself, as this boy may have been, what is the school to do at the time to protect him and other children, and perhaps even staff, until medical help, authorities and parents can be notified? As for being "left in the hallway," it isn't clear in the video either that no one was watching the boy until help arrived.
Do I believe are there some teachers out there who are clearly abusive to students in terms of verbally or even physically at times? Absolutely. Hopefully, they are few and far between, and they should be fired and even prosecuted whenever possible. But when school districts must deal with special education students who may have mental illnesses, now often mandated to be in classrooms with other children who are not potentially violent, the line between what is perceived as abuse from staff and what is necessary to protect others can become much less clear. Just because thousands may get stirred up and sign a petition, or one parent's version of a situation gets put in the NY Times, still doesn't reveal the whole picture in either instance. As the video notes, due to child privacy laws, school districts like this one cannot release all the facts, allowing parents to frame incidents and their children's behaviors as they wish, so the full stories in high profile cases like these may never be known.
posted by siding with Emily also (not verified) on September 29, 2012
P.S. - As a long time viewer of Emily, I agree the wording "some kid" in reference to the boy put in a duffle bag was unfortunate, but she was speaking off the cuff with her colleagues in a chat format. I don't believe it is indicative of callousness or insensitivity to children on her part, given everything else we know about her. If anything, she should be applauded for bringing to light what the NY Times editor added to Mr. Lichtenstein's Op-Ed piece, stating there were inaccuracies. Otherwise, as she notes, who would know about this addendum?
posted by Bill Lichtenstein on September 29, 2012
Dear siding with Emily:
Your skepticism (above) is fair and appropriate. However:
1) The existence, scope and problem of restraints and seclusion/isolation rooms in schools nationally is perhaps best addressed by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who has been opposing their use for more than three years. His impassioned, nearly tearful, remarks on the floor of the U.S. House about this issue are "must see,” as they say, if you are interested or concerned about this issue or the welfare of kids in schools.
Rep. Miller's House web site on restraints and seclusion in schools is at:http://1.usa.gov/PhET4h
And the Senate version from Sen. Tom Harkin, focusing on alternatives to restraints and isolation rooms, is at: http://ht.ly/cc11y
All of this material, and more, was provided as background to Ms. Rooney's staff three weeks ago, before my first interview on Sept. 12, 2012. It’s not clear to me that Ms. Rooney ever reviewed it.
2) You stated Ms. Rooney’s Sept, 21, 2012 “Beat the Press” segment was necessary to inform the public of Sewell Chan’s Sept. 16, 2012 editor’s note about my Sunday New York Times article. However, Chan’s note ran in the Sunday New York Times, with a print circulation of well over one million readers, and I emailed the editor’s note, with my comments, to nearly 6,000 people, including our local and national media and press contacts, the day before, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012.
(By the way, it’s not an “Editors’ Note” plural, as the "Beat the Press" headline erroneously calls it [above], but an “Editor’s Note” singular, in this case, with the editor being Sewell Chan. This is another substantive error that “Beat the Press” should correct.)
Finally, I stand by my Sept. 9, 2012 Sunday New York Times article, "A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children," as does the New York Times. It was fact checked thoroughly by the Times, and there's been no retraction, no correction and nothing has been changed in the article on-line at NYTimes.com Given that Chan's editor's note remains an unfortunate confusing, misleading and incomplete effort to acknowledge the disputes with him by Lexington's schools PR firm during the week after my story ran, it must be said again:
1) As reported in my story, I was called by the school on Jan. 6, 2006, to come get my daughter, and I went. The conditions in the closet where we found her, as described in my Sunday New York Times article, are accurate and were confirmed by a witness who spoke to the Times and in the deposition of school staff.
Meanwhile, Chan's inference in his editor's note, that Rose’s mother’s deposition, which has been released to the media, refutes my account in the Times story of how Rose was found, is not true nor accurate.
2) As reported in my Sunday New York Times article, I filed child abuse reports with the state child welfare agency, DCF, “at the time," in early 2007, with "at the time" being defined in my Sunday Times article, and in Chan's editor's note, as the period between 2006, when we first learned of the problem, and 2008 when we filed the legal action.
Internal DCF report logs, which we obtained and released to the media, confirm my filing of the 51A child abuse reports with DCF in early 2007. The Times confirmed that these abuse reports I made to DCF included the seclusion room’s use with my daughter, and, as was indicated by school staff at time, possibly with other students, as well.
3) As reported in my article, the closet in which my daughter was put almost daily for over three months, was on the basement level stair landing, one flight down from the main floor of the school building, and not in the mezzanine, as Lexington claims, and as Chan incorrectly reported in his editor’s note.
You can see photos of the isolation room, media regarding restraints and seclusion rooms in schools locally and nationally, including my daughter’s case, and parent and media resources at www.terrifyingdiscipline.com
Bill Lichtenstein Bill@LCMedia.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ posted by siding with Emily on September 29, 2012
As for the use of seclusion rooms and restraining methods, no one, including myself, has claimed there may have not been abuses at schools around the country in some specific instances, or that staff should not be well monitored and punished if abuses are found and substantiated. The larger question would seem to be whether an enormous pattern of consistent overuse and abuse of restraining methods has been occurring on a national scale, as you are suggesting but have yet to fully substantiate. Again, it is unfortunate but understandable that when people such as yourself make harsh allegations regarding treatment of their children, school districts cannot release all the facts as to what the child was doing which required the level of restraint that occurred, thus, as I noted, we may never know the entire story in any individual instance or even on a larger scale.
The more specific and immediate questions raised by Emily and others had to do with the veracity of your own story to gain attention for yourself and your particular case - legitimate questions due in part to the editor's addendum in the NY Times which does contradict some of what you wrote in your Op-Ed piece, particularly about finding your daughter standing naked in her own urine, presenting an image that she had been locked in a basement room and neglected by staff. As for people seeing the addendum, obviously those who read such things in the Times would. My point was that many more now know about it thanks to Emily and her vigilance. I think the questions in her interview were extremely fair and reasonable, and if you have gathered specific alternatives to having to use restraints at times when children with mental illnesses in student populations become violent, you would be doing a service by citing them specifically as part of your campaign.
As for your own child, with whom I sympathize, it can't be avoided that questions have been raised by the Times' addendum regarding your account of what happened in Lexington that day, particularly as to whether Lexington schools are as negligent as you claim in your case and those of a few other parents you've mentioned. Once more, I must restate, we may never know the full story of what really happened in any individual instance due to child privacy laws, so I hesitate to believe an entire school district with an excellent reputation should be vilified as abusive or neglectful until a pattern of abuse can be fully substantiated, ideally by objective third parties or agency investigators who can present details that won't later be ammended by the party publishing the findings. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ posted by Bill Lichtenstein (not verified) on September 29, 2012
@siding with Emily
In response to your questions/points:
1) >>>The GAO report you cite keeps using words such as "allegedly" and "purportedly" when it comes to abuses you note and their results, suggesting they had not been fully substantiated.
The GAO report contains an extraordinary array of abuse, neglect and deaths from restraints and seclusion in schools. The GAO found kids as young as age 4 injured while restrained with rope, duct tape, straps and bungee cords during the prior two decades; 20 students died including from asphyxia and suicide. I am not here to explain, defend or expound on it. Rep. George Miller, Sen. Tom Harkin or the GAO itself could do that. Many of those cases have been litigated and there are bodies of evidence and responsibility assessed throughout the country. If you want to be skeptical, that's fine, but at least do it on the facts.
2) >>>The larger question would seem to be whether an enormous pattern of consistent overuse and abuse of restraining methods has been occurring on a national scale, as you are suggesting but have yet to fully substantiate.
Some of that was cut out of the article for space, but let me give you the short answer. It is a big national problem. Statistically, the Dept of Education Office of Civil Rights just started gathering figures, but in their first release of data they found 40,000 students involved, and that is with a survey that was only a part of the nation's schools.
3. >>>school districts cannot release all the facts as to what the child was doing which required the level of restraint that occurred, thus, as I noted, we may never know the entire story in any individual instance or even on a larger scale.
I think you're missing the point here. No one says that in an emergency, a school should can't use restraints or a seclusion room to keep a child safe while the parents are called. This is not that.
What happened, according to Lexington and others, is a part of a therapeutic plan. This is supposed to be helpful. This is supposed to teach a five year old how to navigate the world, and negotiate and have self control. Locking a five year old in a closet does none of that. In our case, we got the records, and we got the files. And we deposed those involved. We know what my daughter was doing that resulted in this abuse: she was running in the halls or not listening or talking out of turn. A 5 year old Kindergartener, who did just fine in the Lexington pre-schools the year before. That's why the town of Lexington paid close to $400,000, in help for her and some funds to the family, for what we went through. If you want a clear picture of what goes on, and granted it's "Hollywood," but they have their facts straight, take a look at the trailer for "Won't Back Down," with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter and Viola Davis. .
It just opened yesterday. This is what is going on in this country as we speak.
4. >>>NY Times which does contradict some of what you wrote in your Op-Ed piece.
Suffice it to say that the editor was allowed to write his "editor's note." It was to acknowledge that Lexington's disputed parts of the story (they were contacted before publication and did not respond.) However, Lexington has offered no facts and no evidence that I know of to support their position. Only name calling. And their story has changed daily. Meanwhile, I have released all documents and continue to answer all questions. There are issues that I have raised with Chan's notes, as has Lexington. The Times stands by the story, and so do I.
5. >>> if you have gathered specific alternatives to having to use restraints at times when children with mental illnesses in student populations become violent, you would be doing a service by citing them specifically as part of your campaign.
Again, I think you're missing the point. That is not how these restraints are being used, nor the seclusion rooms. In answer to your question, I went through lengths with Emily's show before the interview to explain this: here is a resource guide from the Sec. of Education, Arine Duncan. It's sole point: there is no evidence that restraints and seclusion work. Here is 40 pages of things that do work:
You know and I know that if a teacher can engage and excite and inspire children, they don't need these practices. That's also the point of the scene in the film trailer (above).
6. >>>As for your own child . . . we may never know the full story of what really happened in any individual instance due to child privacy laws.
First, I have released everything about the case. There are four other parents now who have come forward with reports of abuse in Lexington. One saw my daughter being dragged into the room, screaming not to be put in there. And when she went to the principal to report it, she was told that this was "disturbing to see" but that it was an approved therapy for my daughter and that her parents were aware of it. We weren't. I can promise you that.
I agree with your desire for full transparency in this matter, but disagree with you when you say it's not possible. There are those who could be brought in to conduct a truly independent investigation of what has happened here. That would help clear the air with regard to the critical questions: 1) what happened:? 2) are the parents of all kids who were abused aware of what happened, and help gotten for the students? 3) have those responsible been held accountable; 4) how can we prevent this from happening again? I think those are the questions that need to be answered. In the wake of the Sandusky case, where the takeaway was that adults need to do everything possible to resolve reports of abuse, not just the minimum required, and that there is a need for transparency when children are abused, I think a full, independent investigation is critical. In the end, what we are left with is that the bell has been rung here, and despite all of Lexington's efforts, there is no way to un-ring it.
With regard to the Beat the Press broadcast itself, corrections and apologies are required.