Missouri Advocates For Families Affected by Autism

We are a citizens action group advocating and lobbying for families that have a child with special needs. We believe that EVERY child has a right to a FREE and APPROPRIATE EDUCATION and should NEVER BE LEFT BEHIND.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Update on Missouri Special Education Hearings

Jeff Grisamore Not: Update on Missouri Special Education Hearings

The following is taken from several articles and websites.  It is all verifiable.  

Prior to returning to the State of Missouri, Chapel worked in Kansas City as a trial lawyer at the Sly James Firm, at Humphrey Farrington and McClain, and with the Missouri Attorney General.

Charnissa Holliday Scott
After serving as a school district administrator for several years, Charnissa Holliday Scott wanted to make a change in her life.

I've always been interested in law,” Charnissa said. “A friend of mine who was an attorney talked me into taking the LSAT, and I took it. And now I’m here and I'm looking at graduation in May 2011.” (I believe that this friend is Michelle Wimes)

Received a bachelor’s degree from Quincy University in Quincy, Ill. and a master’s degree in Education and an Education Specialist degree in Superintendent Administration from Avila University.

Broke KC charter school leaves teachers without final paycheck


The Kansas City Star

Teachers at the recently shuttered Derrick Thomas Academy charter school haven’t been paid, and no one seems to know when — or if — they ever will be.

“There are limited, if any, options that Derrick Thomas Academy has to help the teachers,” said James Tippin, a lawyer representing the school. “Believe me, no one on the Derrick Thomas board of directors is happy about this.”
Chapel and one of the attorneys at James Tippin Law, Dana Cutler, worked at the Sly James law firm.

Dana Cutler works at the Tippen Law Firm and is listed as contractor contact person for the contract with DESE.

Featured speaker will be Charnissa Holliday-Scott, a law student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law who previously worked as a core data specialist, interim director of exceptional education and compliance officer in urban and suburban school districts.

SHB Sponsors Jackson County Bar Association’s Foundation Scholarship Banquet By Willie Epps, Partner, SHB Kansas City On September 11, 2010, the Jackson County Bar Association and JCBA Foundation hosted the 13th Annual Kit Carson Roque, Jr. Scholarship Banquet at the Kansas City Marriott Country Club Plaza. This annual banquet celebrates the life and legacy of the late Judge Roque and promotes diversity in the profession by providing scholarships to deserving minority law students.

This year, the JCBA Foundation solicited scholarship applications from the four law schools around Kansas City: UMKC, MU, KU, and Washburn. The scholarship selection panel included SHB Partner Jon R. Gray (retired judge), SHB alumna Judge Lisa White Hardwick, and Judge Brian C. Wimes. Scholarships were awarded to Sophia Washington of UMKC Law School, Camille Roe of MU Law School, and Charnissa Holliday-Scott of UMKC Law School. SHB Partner Mischa Buford Epps serves as president of the JCBA Foundation, which has awarded 30 scholarships since 1998.

 The Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was re-authorized this year effective July 1, 2005. Under the guidance of legal assistance provided by Attorneys Kathy Walter-Mack and Michelle Wimes, the information found in this manual contains legal references that are current and aligned with the changes that the new IDEA mandates. This Process Manual is also in alignment with the State Plan for Missouri as it becomes finalized according to the federal guidelines.  (FROM KCMO school district handbook)

Michelle Wimes worked as an attorney for KCMO school district. Charnissa Holiday-Scott was an employee at KCMO school district. Judge Wimes was on the panel for the scholarship that Holiday-Scott won. Holiday-Scott works for the law firm that has the contract with DESE.

Missouri Special Education Hearings

I received this from an attorney that represents families in Special Education lawsuits and due process.

I wanted to update all of you on some information I learned.  It appears that on December 12, 2012, DESE entered into a contract with the Tippin Law Firm to provide services for the Administrative Hearing Commission related to special education administrative hearings in Missouri.  A key person who is providing these services was previously a special education administrator for the Kansas City Missouri Public School District; the law firm has also recently represented at least one charter school.  The special education administrator appears to have been directed toward law school by a school district attorney.  The school district attorney’s husband (a judge) appears to have delivered funds to the special education administrator to assist with paying for law school.  I have also been provided information that Commissioner Nimrod Chapel has strong relationships with this law firm, such as previously working in a law office with one or more partners of the firm. 

Since this contract was entered into, and in comparison to the situation before HB595 was passed, DESE (and in particular Cynthia Quetsch) appears to now be exerting the same if not more, control over these hearings.  In my opinion the interests of DESE are in direct conflict with what the interests of the Administrative Hearing Commission should be, and the interests of DESE in special education matters is only to protect school districts from liability.   Any contracting should be solely between the AHC and a contractor, and DESE should not have any involvement (other than forwarding funds).  Persons previously employed by school districts as administrators should not be permitted to serve as a Commissioner, and the same conflict rules applicable to Commissioners should apply to contractors.  I am very concerned and hope someone will address the situation.  Feel free to pass this on to anyone who you think may be able to help or who may have interest.  Particular contract provisions that I also believe create a huge conflict of interest are as follows: 

I continue to believe that the State should have an audit conducted by unbiased persons (or biased persons on both sides), into DESE’s handling of special education matters in Missouri.  I do not intend to be involved in any more special education administrative hearings in Missouri unless and until changes are made. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Most bills set to become law August 28 - My North West Missouri News: Opinion

Most bills set to become law August 28 - My North West Missouri News: Opinion

Bryce’s Law (SB 17)
Another bill that will become law will help provide new resources to assist families with children with special needs such as autism. The legislation, also known as Bryce’s Law, requires the state education department to seek financial resources in the form of grants and donations that may be devoted to scholarship funds or clinical trials for these children. The bill also tasks the department with developing a master list of resources available to the parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.
The goal with the bill is to help families and children enjoy a higher quality of life and to obtain the educational experience they need and deserve. By making new and existing resources easier for families to access, we believe we can better meet the educational needs of the thousands of children in Missouri with autism spectrum disorders.

Bullying of disabled students can violate federal school law, U.S. Department of Education says | MLive.com

Bullying of disabled students can violate federal school law, U.S. Department of Education says | MLive.com

LANSING -- Federal education officials issued a letter Tuesday clarifying the responsibility of schools to prevent bullying of students with disabilities, saying that attacks could violate the federal guarantee of a free appropriate public education if they interfere with educational benefits.
The issue of children with disabilities being bullied has come to the forefront in Michigan recently after the parents of a Livonia Public Schools student filed a federal lawsuitalleging the students and staff of his elementary school are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing the child to be bullied over his peanut allergy.
"[B]ullying of a student with a disability that results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit constitutes a denial of a free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that must be remedied," the letter states.
The letter includes suggestions of best practices for school districts to address bullying, including parent notification, training for school staff and tracking bullying incidents throughout the school year.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has a public awareness campaign to reduce bullying in schools, and has scheduled a Twitter chat on back-to-school bullying prevention for Aug. 29.
Michigan state law requires school districts to have an anti-bullying policy in place, and the Michigan Department of Education provides a model policy that school districts can adopt.
Brian Smith is the statewide education and courts reporter for MLive. Email him atbsmith11@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Another Bullying Lawsuit Targets a Texas School District

Another Bullying Lawsuit Targets a Texas School District

The mother of a former Leander Independent School District student has sued the school district claiming that the district failed to protect her son from bullying, according to a report by The Austin American-Statesman.  According to the lawsuit, the boy was targeted at least in part due to Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder that impacted how he socialized and interacted with others.
There is no dispute that students with disabilities can be especially vulnerable to bullying.  Further, courts may not look favorably on a school district that has failed to protect a student with special needs from abuse by other students.  The Leander ISD suit is at an early stage and the facts have not been fully developed, so it is yet to be seen whether the district will face any liability in that case.
What is the potential for liability in a bullying suit?  A number of federal anti-discrimination statutes address bullying and harassment and impose responsibilities on school administrators to protect the civil rights of students.  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits gender discrimination.  In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit discrimination based on a disability.  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.  Each of these statutes offer protections to those who have been harassed or severely bullied based on their protected category.  Further, all states receiving federal education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must comply with federal requirements designed to provide a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”) for all disabled children.
Several courts have held that a school’s deliberate indifference in failing to prevent bullying of a special education student resulted in the denial of FAPE.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Texas, has not directly addressed this issue, however.  One 2011 case, T.K. v. New York City Department of Education, __ F.Supp.2d __, 2011 WL 1549243 (E.D.N.Y. 2011), examined the question of whether bullying can be grounds for finding a denial of FAPE.  T.K. received special education services under the classification of learning disabled.  The parents claimed the T.K. was subjected to repeated bullying at school as a result of her disability, that the school was aware of the conduct, and that the school failed to properly address the issue.  The parents requested a due process hearing complaining that the school denied T.K. FAPE and a hearing officer ruled in favor of the school.  The case proceeded to federal court.  The court developed the following standard in IDEA bullying disputes:

When responding to bullying incidents, which may affect the opportunities of a special education student, a school must take prompt and appropriate action.  It must investigate if the harassment is reported to have occurred.  If harassment is found to have occurred, the school must take appropriate steps to prevent it in the future.  These duties exist even if the misconduct is covered by its anti-bullying policy, and regardless of whether the student has complained, asked the school to take action, or identified the harassment as a form of discrimination.
It is not necessary to show that the bullying prevented all opportunity for an appropriate education, but only that it is likely to affect the opportunity of the student for an appropriate education.  Further, the bullying need not be a reaction to or related to a particular disability.
The record in the T.K. case included evidence of bullying by other students.  The parents showed that they tried to communicate the problems to the school principal.  The school, however, did not produce documentation that it either investigated the claims of bullying or took steps to remedy the conduct.  Finally, evidence supported the finding that the bullying caused the girl to resist attending school, hurt her academically, and damaged her emotional well-being.  According to the court, the parents produced sufficient evidence to create a fact issue as to whether the school’s failure to properly respond to the bullying denied the student FAPE.
Because school districts in violation of these federal anti-discrimination laws may face the withdrawal of federal funding, injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees, these cases can be very costly and time-consuming for school districts.  That is why it is paramount for school districts to learn to address allegations of peer harassment swiftly and thoroughly, with supporting documentation along the way.  Districts faced with these allegations will need to show that they took action to address the complaints and a genuine effort to stop the harassment.  Separating students, investigating complaints, interviewing students, taking written statements, meeting with parents, and reporting the incident through appropriate channels, are just some examples of steps that district personnel should take when faced with a student complaint of peer harassment.  Further, documenting each of these steps will go a long way in fighting allegations of deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment.  For more practical strategies on how to handle peer harassment and bullying complaints on your campus, see the Texas Legal Handbook on Student Bullying.

Three stripped of duties after Meramec campus assault | FOX2now.com

Three stripped of duties after Meramec campus assault | FOX2now.com

Finally a school that is willing to investigate and do the right thing. 

KIRKWOOD, MO (KTVI)– St. Louis Community College released three employees over a student assault at the Meramec campus last spring.
The chief of police for the entire campus system, plus the police chief at Meramec, and a top campus administrator were let go Thursday
The highly critical report says system wide failures of campus and district law also says administrators up and down the chain of command mishandled the situation.
The internal investigation came after the student was attacked last April in the women’s bathroom.
Jevon Mallory was charged.
The school did not immediately notify students and staff about the attack and they let Mallory go with a warning after the crime.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Scallywag and Vagabond | Autistic teen Max Begley receives hate letter suggesting he be euthanized.

Scallywag and Vagabond | Autistic teen Max Begley receives hate letter suggesting he be euthanized.

A Canadian family has been left distraught after receiving an anonymous letter telling them that they should euthanize their severely autistic son, Max Begley.

The letter which arrived this past Friday from an anonymous neighbor goes on to complain about the noise tht Max Begley makes as being ‘DREADFUL!‘ and that it ‘scares the hell out of my normal children!’

Signed off ‘one pissed off mother’ the sender goes on to tell that the noises the teenager son makes are not appropriate for the neighborhood.

‘Crying babies, music and even barking dogs are normal sounds in a residential neighborhood! He is not!’

Continues the fan letter:

‘Who the hell is going to care for him? No employer will ever hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him and you are not going to live forever!’

Then the ultimate solution is recommended:

‘Personally, they should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science. What the hell else good is he to anyone!’

‘Do the right thing and move or euthanize him! Either way, we are ALL better off.’

Read the rest of the article and see the letter.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Standing By And Watching Bullying

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Standing By And Watching Bullying

How many of you have seen the psa with the boy on the bus or the girl in hall being bullied?  The ad is to help children understand how to not be a bystander.  It is a wonderful concept.

What are we teaching these same children when teachers, administrators, bus drivers, aides, etc. or the bullies?  How are they going to address that?

It happens every day.  Thousands of children are bullied by the adults that we entrust our children to.  We are powerless to protect them because of the cover-ups, the lying, the retaliation, and the total failure of the system from the district level all of the way to Washington DC.

When are we going to demand that our legislators, administrators, teachers, and public officials do their job and protect the most innocent of our society?  I'm ready to demand it now.

AASA Document Nothing More Than A Shameful Attack on Parent and Student Civil Rights - Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.

AASA Document Nothing More Than A Shameful Attack on Parent and Student Civil Rights - Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August 01st, 2013 - Act to Keep All Students Safe

August 01st, 2013 - Act to Keep All Students Safe

[FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CAMBRIDGE, MA.]  – Six parents who put a national spotlight on the deadly use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms with students in schools announce a new campaign to highlight federal legislation to end these abusive practices that are  called “torture and abuse” by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. George Miller (D-CA).  The groundbreaking effort includes a call for parents and others to visit federal representatives in their home offices in August to discuss the bill. 

Action to Keep Students Safe is the brainchild of six parent advocates who have encountered physical restraint and seclusion rooms in schools personally or professionally.  They include Sheila Foster, the mother of Corey Foster, the 16 year-old whose 2012 death while being restrained at a Yonkers, NY school made national headlines, and Bill Lichtenstein, whose recent Sunday New York Times expose about the use of a seclusion room with his 5 year old daughter, Rose, in Lexington, MA, attracted a flood of media attention and “helped coalesce a national effort to end these practices and promote positive behavior interventions in schools” according to a recent honor from the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. 

The other parents in the campaign include Scott Bryant-Comstock, CEO and President of the Children's Mental Health Network; and leading child advocates Ellen Chambers, founder of SPEDWatch, a civil rights and advocacy organization, Amy Peterson, an advocate and writer, and Debra Pacheco, whose granddaughter was subjected to restraint and seclusion for years without the school providing notice. 

“No parent should send their child to school and have them not come home,” said Sheila Foster, whose heart-wrenching story involving the death of her son Corey has been featured on ABC News Nightline; Anderson Cooper Live and the New York Times. 

Action to Keep Students Safe is focusing on the federal Keeping All Students Safe Act(HR 1893), introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), which would limit the use of physical restraint and seclusion rooms with students unless required in an emergency to keep a child or others safe.  The Act would require schools to notify parents promptly if a child was restrained or secluded, something that does not often happen currently, and would ban dangerous mechanical and chemical restraints, and restraints that impede breathing.  

“Without Congressional action, children will continue to suffer from these abusive practices.  This legislation would make practices such as duct-taping children to chairs or restricting a child's breathing illegal.  It makes it very clear that there is no room for torture and abuse in America's schools,” said Congressman Miller, the senior Democratic member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, upon re-introducing the bill on the House floor in May 2013.

The campaign will give voice to parents, many of whom have reported being retaliated against for speaking out about the use of these practices in schools, a matter currently being followed by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Dept. of Education. The group has designated August as Action to Keep Students Safe Month, and is calling on parents, advocates and the public to visit their congressional representatives as they return to their home states and offices for summer recess. The group is providing a one-page informational sheet to bring to meetings at the representatives' local offices, and will post photos and notes from constituents visiting their local congressional offices on its website.

Action to Keep Students Safe offers a website located at KeepStudentsSafe.com, an e-newsletter, is developing an educational outreach video and PSAs, and has an online directory of the phone numbers and email addresses of federal representatives and senators to contact regarding the legislation.  A Back to School Awareness Rally is being planned for September 9, 2013 at the Leake & Watts School in Yonkers, NY, where Corey Foster died after being restrained in April 2012. 

“There's one message we have for parents, students, educators and all who are interested in keeping our kids safe,” said Bill Lichtenstein.  “Pick up your phone now, call your representative and senators and let them know how you strongly you feel about the need for the Keeping All Students Safe Act.”  

The campaign comes at a crucial time as reports of abuse and neglect of students through restraint and seclusion have flooded the media in recent months in the wake of Lichtenstein’s New York Times article and media appearances by Sheila Foster.  These reports of mistreatment and abuse by restraint and seclusion bolster the efforts by Representative Miller and Senator Thomas Harkin (D-IA) to end the improper use of these practices through federal legislation.  

A 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed thousands of school children have been secluded and restrained, and that these practices were used disproportionately with students who had special needs and children of color.  The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights found more than 20 deaths resulting from these practices.  Often parents were not notified, and teachers and staff were not trained in the proper use of restraints.  Currently, 20 states require no parental notification and 19 states have no laws or regulations related to the use of seclusion or restraints in schools.

Dr. Joe Ryan, a researcher at Clemson University and advisor to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, is assisting the campaign by helping create detailed information on research-based, best-practice positive interventions that schools can use to work with students while keeping them safe.

“There's been no way for parents to connect with others about this issue nationally,” Lichtenstein said. “Our goal is to create a national dialog and to give parents a voice. There's no reason these practices should be used the way they are now, and the time has come to stop using them.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lee's Summit Autism: SSI and Disability

Lee's Summit Autism: SSI and Disability

I have a disability attorney and a retired Social Security Judge that would be willing to speak to a group about SSI and disability. I would be glad to host this event, but I need to know that someone is going to show up. Please let me know if you would be interested in this.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Report: Autistic Child Abused at Stone Mountain School - Schools - Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA Patch

Report: Autistic Child Abused at Stone Mountain School - Schools - Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA Patch

A father from Stone Mountain is furious at educators who allegedly abused his 14-year-old autistic son and then tried to cover it up. 
John Malone said his son Wesley, who cannot speak, was terrorized by a teachers in May at Stone Mountain Middle School while an observer monitored the class. The abuse allegation was passed on to the school district which then failed to respond appropriately, according to CBS.  
The district failed to report the alleged abuse to police for a whole month, Malone said. "I'm irate about it because not only is my son not receiving a fair shake, all the other kids with special needs won't get a fair shake either," he said.
A paraprofessional from the school has been forced to resign and a teacher may be fired for allegedly slamming a broomstick against a wall repeatedly in order to get Wesley's attention.
An investigating officer later issued "a vague and inaccurate incident report," Malone said. "I think there's been a complete cover-up to protect the DeKalb County School system. Arrests should have already been made." 
Jeff Dickerson, spokesman for the DeKalb County School District, said both educators have been disciplined and the Department of Family and Children Services has been notified.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Education Week: Duncan Reluctant to Tweak Accountability-System Oversight

Education Week: Duncan Reluctant to Tweak Accountability-System Oversight

Secretary responds to Indiana grade-change flap

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sees no need to step up the federal role in oversight of new accountability systems that are part of his department’s No Child Left Behind Act waiver program, even in the wake of a school-grading flap that last week cost Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett his job.
In a wide-ranging interview with Education Week last week, Mr. Duncan did not defend Mr. Bennett—embroiled in a controversy stemming from his previous job as Indiana state schools chief—or Mr. Bennett’s actions. Nor did Mr. Duncan say there’s a reason at this point for federal officials to investigate what happened in the Hoosier State, which involved a grading system at the heart of its NCLB waiver agreement.
Instead, the secretary said, it’s important that those systems be developed and implemented transparently. And in the case of Indiana, given that the grading-system changes were exposed in the media, transparency prevailed, he said in the Aug. 1 interview.In a wide-ranging interview with Education Week last week, Mr. Duncan did not defend Mr. Bennett—embroiled in a controversy stemming from his previous job as Indiana state schools chief—or Mr. Bennett’s actions. Nor did Mr. Duncan say there’s a reason at this point for federal officials to investigate what happened in the Hoosier State, which involved a grading system at the heart of its NCLB waiver agreement.
“I’m not worried. See what happens when someone messes up?” Mr. Duncan said, adding that he doesn’t know if Mr. Bennett did anything wrong. “You need maximum transparency, and if anyone’s looking to do something silly, the costs on their lives and careers is profound.”
The Indiana changes came to light after the Associated Press obtained internal state education department emails from last fall.
Indiana is one of 39 states plus the District of Columbia with federal waivers allowing them considerable flexibility to design their own school accountability systems and freedom from many of the constraints of the NCLB law as written in 2001.
Mr. Duncan said that all the facts of the Indiana situation will come out soon enough.
“I think the facts will emerge, and we’ll look at them,” he said.

Waiver Renewals Loom

Even as states continue to work out the kinks in their waiver systems, it’s almost time for those state-federal agreements to be renewed. Federal approval of the waiver plans expire as early as the end of the 2013-14 school year. But Mr. Duncan wouldn’t offer any details about what a renewal process might look like.
“It’s early. We’re starting to think about it; we’d love to figure out if reauthorization has a shot in a bipartisan way,” he said.
By reauthorization, Mr. Duncan meant a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose current version is the NCLB law. While there are bills moving in both chambers of Congress to revamp the outdated law, Mr. Duncan has not been out front as a strong advocate for renewal, as he’s been on other issues, such as President Barack Obama’s proposal to greatly expand access to preschool.
“You want to spend time where people are serious,” said Mr. Duncan, explaining that he doesn’t view the House Republican version of an ESEA reauthorization, approved last month on a party-line vote, as “serious” in a bipartisan way. “I want to spend time where there’s a chance to get things done.”
Even though Mr. Duncan has not been making many public appearances in support of President Obama’s preschool initiative, no bill has yet been introduced, nor is there an appetite in Congress to raise taxes to support public programs. But Mr. Duncan sharply rejects the view that preschool legislation is a lost cause.
“Totally disagree. Why is this not a wild goose chase? Because there is such extraordinary bipartisan investment and support across the country that we’re seeing from governors, Republican and Democrat,” he said. “And while it is not public yet, we have had many, many conversations with Republican leaders in the House and Senate that are frankly encouraging.”
Mr. Duncan said preschool is one of the most important policy initiatives he wants to accomplish in Mr. Obama’s second term.
“You have 3½ years to think about what are the big things you want to get done, and the fact that today so few children in this country have access to high-quality early-childhood education, the fact that so many start kindergarten so far behind, the fact that so many never catch up, to me is morally unacceptable, ” he said.

District Agreements?

Mr. Duncan wouldn’t talk much about the tailor-made waiver that nine California districts are seeking in order to get out from under provisions of the NCLB law just as states have done. That would be a first-of-its-kind waiver and would upend the traditional relationship districts have with states. With the beginning of school just a couple of weeks away, those school districts—which cover about 1 million students and include Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Fresno—are anxious for an answer.
But Mr. Duncan gave no clues about whether he would go forward with granting such a waiver, except to say his staff hasn’t presented him with a proposal to consider.
“Our teams have been working hard,” he said. “At some point, staff will bring a recommendation to me; we’re not at that point yet.”

Davie Teacher Charged With Abusing Disabled Student - Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach - News - The Daily Pulp

Davie Teacher Charged With Abusing Disabled Student - Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach - News - The Daily Pulp

Deborah Tersigni, a 44-year-old Davie school teacher, has been charged with child abuse after she allegedly restrained an 8-year-old intellectually and physically handicapped student.
She also reportedly sat on top of the student, a Broward County School Police report says.
Police say the incident occurred in January at Silver Ridge Elementary School.
Tersigni allegedly grabbed the boy from his chair and forced his hands behind his back, then put him face-down on the floor.
She then sat on top of his back, which made it difficult for the boy to breathe.
According to the Sun Sentinel, the boy weighs 30 pounds, while Tersigni weighs 155 pounds.
Records show that Tersigni has been with the district for close to a decade.
Silver Ridge Elementary says she was reassigned in January after the incident while the investigation is ongoing.

Tersigni was taken into custody on Friday.

Former Antioch teacher charged with physically abusing young autistic students - Inside Bay Area

Former Antioch teacher charged with physically abusing young autistic students - Inside Bay Area

PITTSBURG -- A former Antioch special education teacher accused of physically abusing her young autistic students at Mno Grant Elementary School was arraigned Tuesday on six felony counts of child abuse.
Theresa Allen-Caulboy turned herself in Tuesday at the Pittsburg courthouse, complying with a $600,000 warrant for her arrest that was issued last week when the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office filed charges alleging six victims -- boys and girls ages 5, 6 and 7 -- were abused between October 2012 and Jan. 30, 2013.
Allen-Caulboy, 55, of Brentwood, resigned from the Antioch Unified School District in February, a month after parents reported her to police and she was placed on administrative leave.
At a bail hearing Tuesday, prosecutor Melissa Smith said Allen-Caulboy "preyed" on vulnerable children, some of whom are nonverbal, and that there is "nothing to indicate that something prompted her to act out this way."
Less than six months after she started teaching at the school, other district employees began witnessing Allen-Caulboy commit abusive acts, including kneeing a child in the chest, pinching a child's nipples, backhanded slaps, pinning children to the ground and forcing students to "eat boogers," according to Smith. Allen-Caulboy allegedly threatened a school aide that anyone who reported her conduct was "going to get sued," Smith said.
Prosecutors would not say whether there are charges pending against any school district employees who allegedly witnessed or received complaints from parents but did not go to police as mandated by law, before parents sparked the police investigation in January.
"All aspects of this case are still being investigated," said senior Deputy District Attorney Nancy Georgiou.
Defense attorney Elizabeth Grossman described Allen-Caulboy as a "thoughtful, compassionate, hardworking, caring and sensitive human being" who received no prior complaints in her 11 years of teaching.
The defendant was accompanied to court with her family and a former colleague at John Muir Elementary School in Antioch, where Allen-Caulboy taught autistic students in 2011.
"This is a person who very much wants to address these charges," Grossman told the judge, later adding, "I have a lot to say about whether (the DA) will prevail on these counts."
Judge Nancy Davis Stark ordered Allen-Caulboy to electronic house arrest until she can post a $200,000 property bond. The judge further ordered Allen-Caulboy not to teach or care for any minors and issued a restraining order barring any contact with the alleged victims and witnesses in the case.
Allen-Caulboy is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 12 to post bond and enter her plea to the charges.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jake's SSI

We had a hearing before a judge and he denied Jake’s SSI.  Below is part of his report.

The claimant has the following severe impairments: autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Per report, the claimant was, at various points in his childhood, diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, and autistic disorder.

In early 2009, Tracy Orchester conducted an EXTENSIVE psychological evaluation and diagnosed him with autistic disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  She spent many hours with and came to know him.

The claimant was referred to Susan Barngrover, Ph.D., who conducted a FIFTEEN MINUTE examination of his mental status and ability to manage funds.  Based on the claimant’s performance of relatively high functioning, Dr. Barngrover’s diagnostic impression was that the claimant had “long-standing Asperger rather than full blown autism”.  This despite the fact that Dr. Orchester’s report stated that it might appear that Jake has Asperger syndrome, but in fact he has autism.  His PCP stated in his report that the claimant has full syndrome of autism.  Children’s Mercy also conducted an evaluation and found that he did not have Asperger’s Syndrome, but in fact was autistic.  The only person that concluded that he had Asperger’s Syndrome was the person that only spent FIFTEEN MINUTES with him. 

Throughout the hearing, the claimant gave thoughtful, well-considered responses and testimony.  The claimant did not display any discernible lack of social graces.  On the contrary, the claimant tended to demonstrate better than average social poise and communicative skills.  The claimant’s testimony also appeared to be exceptionally straightforward, candid, and unexaggerated. 

Dr. Orchester emphasized that she could “not make any kind of evaluation off his current abilities or limitations.”  Based on notes that she took in 2009, Dr. Orchester opined that the claimant, when he was 15 years old had marked limitations with interacting with other people and with performing at a reasonable pace and moderate limitations in handling simple instructions and making simple work-related decisions. 

The Vineland II scores were quite low.  However, the Vineland scale does not involve the testing of the claimant, but is based upon the subjective responses of claimant’s parents.  Dr. Barngrover’s diagnostic impression and the claimant’s responsive testimony demonstrated a much higher level of social functioning. 

The vocational expert testified that given all of these factors the individual would be able to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as:  stubber of which about 1,800 jobs exist in Missouri and library age of which about 1,000 jobs exist in Missouri. 

Sherri R. Tucker
Cofounder and President Lee's Summit Autism Support Group
Cofounder MOAFAA (Missouri Advocates for Families Affected by Autism)
In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.”
-Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.”― Carl T. Rowan

Risk factors for bullying among children with autism ... [Autism. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI

Risk factors for bullying among children with autism ... [Autism. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI

Risk factors for bullying among children with autism spectrum disorders.


1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA.


Although children with disabilities have been found to be at an increased risk of bullying, there are limited studies investigating predictors of bullying involvement in children with autism spectrum disorders. The current study presents findings from 1221 parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who were selected from a national web-based registry. Parents completed a survey dedicated to the school and bullying experiences of their child, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify child and school risk factors for involvement as victim, bully, or bully-victim. Additional analyses examined the risk of bullying involvement based on the amount of time spent in general education classrooms. Children diagnosed with Asperger's disorder, attending a public school or a school with a general education population, were at the greatest risk of being victimized in the past month. Children with comorbid conditions and a high level of autistic traits were the most likely to be victims, bullies, and bully-victims. Finally, children in full inclusion classrooms were more likely to be victimized than those who spend the majority of their time in special education settin

Autism as a death sentence - LA Daily News

Autism as a death sentence - LA Daily News

By Jonathan Dobrer
Should Paul Corby be allowed to die because he has autism? This is the simple question before the doctors at University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Their answer was: Yes. He does not warrant being saved by a heart transplant.

Let me disclose at the outset that I am not an objective reporter here. I worked with autistic children in the early 60s, I have a grandson with Asperger's Syndrome and my stepbrother lived a good and full life for nearly a decade and a half following a heart transplant. I take this case and the larger issues very personally.

While it is true that over 300 people die each year waiting for a heart transplant, Paul's autism is keeping him from even being wait-listed. Now to be fair (which I plan on being for a little while longer) heart transplants are not easy and patients do need to participate in their rehabilitation and ongoing care. Routinely people with major psychiatric or medical issues are turned down -- as are substance abusers. Since Corby has no other medical conditions and the substances he is on consist of 19 medicines prescribed to keep him alive, why he is being declined is
not clear, other than for his autism.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said, "The physicians involved believe that any discussion of the specifics of his case would be most unkind to him and therefore will not comment."

This is a phrase of such cruel and ironic bureaucrat-ese that it defies parody. Disclosing the reasons for allowing him to die would be "unkind" but allowing him to die is, well, what: Kindness itself?

Yes, Paul is quirky and geeky. He plays video games, has written one self-published novel and is working on another. He seems to have a mental and intellectual quality of life worthy of continuing. As a person with autism, he has developmental issues and is not always socially appropriate, according to our normal rules. None of his behaviors seems to warrant the death penalty, which is exactly what the University of Pennsylvania Hospital is imposing by its refusal to treat.

There is, of course, a larger social issue here. Who is worthy of living and dying? Do we "waste" medical services when they are given to people who are different by dint of some handicap or developmental issue? Do we want to rule out autism spectrum people and lose a potential Mozart, Einstein, probably Thomas Jefferson and certainly Temple Grandin? Do we want to have real "death panels" and come up with intellectual and emotional criteria for who shall live and who shall die? Do we want to take the chance of passive death panels that say your life is not worth saving becoming active death panels as happened when the Eugenics Movement of the 1920s devolved under the Nazis into the extermination of those not considered normal?

There are no guarantees with heart transplants. Some will survive surgery and go on to good lives, as my stepbrother did. Some will return to self-destructive life-styles. Some will be bad people and others wonderful and creative contributors to society. We have neither the tools nor the right to try to guess at the outcome of any individual life.

I hope the hospital finds that it, in the end, has a heart. And I mean this in both senses.