A recent investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that the administration of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has been holding hundreds of disabled children in nursing homes for long stretches of time. Scott’s administration, however, is denying the charge.
Investigators sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi last Thursday concluding the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act after visiting 200 children in six nursing homes. The 22-page letter detailed how sick and disabled children are forced into geriatric nursing homes, often isolated from their families and other children for years at a time:
Hundreds of children are currently segregated in nursing facilities throughout Florida. They are growing up apart from their families in hospital-like settings, among elderly nursing facility residents and other individuals with disabilities.They live segregated lives — having few opportunities to interact with children and young adults without disabilities or to experience many of the social, educational and recreational activities that are critical to child development.
According to the DOJ, the average stay is three years, and as many as 50 kids were held for over five years. The letter also noted how unnecessary this traumatic practice is: “With adequate services and supports, these children could live at home with their families or in other more integrated community settings.” As an example, the investigation highlighted the mother of a 5-year-old child rendered quadriplegic by a car accident, who cannot bring her child home from a state facility because the waiting list for community and home-based services is 5-10 years.
Unfortunately, Governor Scott has rejected millions of federal dollars specifically for children’s health care. As Adam Serwer at Mother Jones points out, this money would have helped finance home and community services that would allow disabled children to stay home with their parents.
Elizabeth Dudek, secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, said the DOJ’s findings were full of “unfounded allegations” and has dispatched staffers to talk to these families. The DOJ will likely move forward with a lawsuit now that the AHCA has denied the charges. The state is also facing a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 300 institutionalized children.
(tw abuse, ableism, institutionalized ableism)
The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio requested logs of seclusion rooms’ use from 100 school districts across Ohio as part of our reporting on seclusion rooms.
The logs show that the rooms are often used for their intended purpose: to calm or restrain children who become violent. But they also show that the rooms are misused.
Here are a few examples of uses of seclusion rooms from some of the incident reports and logs districts provided, as well as links to the full documents so you can see for yourself how the rooms are used in some schools.
Images under the cut, please mind the trigger warnings.
(tw abuse, suicide, self-harm, ableism, institutionalized ableism)
To discipline misbehaving students, public schools in Ohio and Florida regularly send children to “seclusion” — isolation in a locked cell-like room, old office, or closet, NPR’s State Impact reports. Many of these children are special needs students and their parents are not always told of this disciplinary practice.But last school year, one Pickerington special-education teacher sent children to a seclusion room more than 60 times, district records show. In nearly all of those incidents, the children were not violent. Often, they were sent to the seclusion room for being “mouthy,” or whining about their school work.
Ohio schools — where seclusion is almost completely unregulated — sent students to seclusion rooms 4,236 times in the 2009-2010 school year. Sixty percent of these students had disabilities. Florida schools have fewer cases, with 969 instances of seclusion from 2010 to 2011. The state has just three stipulations for using seclusion rooms: teachers may not choke or suffocate students, the room must be approved by a fire marshal, and the lights must be left on.
A joint report by StateImpact and Columbus Dispatch report found rampant abuse and lack of training of the punishment, which is meant as a last resort to deal with violent children:
Pickerington Special Education Director Bob Blackburn said the teacher in that classroom was new and that someone in the district has now taught her the right way to use the seclusion room.Other Pickerington teachers misused the rooms, too, though. In another classroom, children were secluded more than 30 times last school year. Two-thirds of those instances involved misbehavior and not violence, district records show.Far from benefiting violent or rowdy students, seclusion has been found to be deeply traumatizing, sometimes leading children to hurt or kill themselves. In one special education school in Georgia, a 13-year-old boy hung himself in a seclusion room in November 2004.
Source by Aviva Chen @ ThinkProgress
The fact that they felt the need to make “do not choke or suffocate the students” says it all. I was a mentally disabled child and had daily report forms filled out by my teachers on my behaviour and progress and this terrifies me because I can imagine how awful this would have been (especially since I did suffer from ableism in other regards during school). This is an abusive practice, and if you live in the areas affected and are able, please write your school boards and let them know how unacceptable this is!
I am sick of how many times we’ve had to use the “ableism kills” tag on this blog.
(tw ableism, institutionalized ableism, racism) Suspensions Are Higher for Disabled Students, Federal Data Indicates
Students with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be suspended from school as nondisabled students, with the highest rates among black children with disabilities.
According to a new analysis of Department of Education data, 13 percent of disabled students in kindergarten through 12th grade were suspended during the 2009-10 school year, compared with 7 percent of students without disabilities. Among black children with disabilities, which included those with learning difficulties, the rate was much higher: one out of every four was suspended at least once that school year.
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the, conducted the study of data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which originally released the raw statistics in March.
Policy makers and civil rights leaders worry about out-of-school suspensions because they often presage dropouts and can raise a child’s risk of future incarceration. Districts with high suspension rates also tend to be correlated with lower student achievement as measured by test scores.
The analysis, which reviewed data at the state and district levels, found that in 10 states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware and Illinois, more than a quarter of black students with disabilities were suspended in 2009-10. In Illinois, the rate was close to 42 percent, compared with about 8 percent for white students. New York and Florida were not included because of problems with their data.
It seemed a world away from the executive suites of Bain Capital when Dana Blum, a recent widow living in Portland, Ore., made the fateful decision to send her son Brendan to Youth Care, a residential program for troubled teens located in the suburbs of Salt Lake City.
Brendan, a 14-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, had been extremely aggressive for years; he was even arrested a few times after attacking members of his family. Local therapists hadn’t helped, and six months after her husband died, Dana was frantically casting about for solutions. A consultation with UCLA’s neuropsychiatric unit convinced her that Youth Care’s therapeutic and educational program would finally make a difference.
Four months into his stay there, Brendan had earned a reputation as a temper-prone student who tried to shirk his obligations. So on the afternoon of June 27, when he complained to medical staff that he felt very sick, as if something were “crawling around” in his stomach, his concerns were dismissed. After 11 p.m., he woke up, complaining of stomach pain, and defecated in his pants. The on-duty monitors took him to the Purple Room, a makeshift isolation room used to segregate misbehaving students. There, he suffered a long night of agony, howling in pain and repeatedly vomiting and soiling himself. According to court transcripts and police reports, the two poorly paid monitors on duty did little more than offer him water, Sprite and Pepto-Bismol. They never telephoned the on-call nurse and waited until nearly 2 a.m. to contact the on-call supervisor, only to leave a voicemail. There was little else they felt they could do — Youth Care’s protocol on emergency services meant they were too low on the totem pole to call 911 themselves.
“They didn’t trust our judgment in emergency situations,” explains Josh Randall, a former Youth Care residential monitor, who wasn’t on duty that night. “If you’re working for $9.50 an hour on the graveyard shift, you don’t want to buck the system.” At any rate, the monitors had little expertise in how to respond — it was an entry-level job requiring only a GED, plus a CPR and safety course overseen by Youth Care itself.
When the morning staff arrived at 7 a.m., they discovered Brendan facedown on the floor of the Purple Room, his body already stiff with rigor mortis. The state’s chief medical examiner later determined that Blum had died of a twisted-bowel infarction, which requires emergency surgical intervention.
(TW: ableism, reproductive rights)
A new mom and dad in Mississauga, Ont. who both have cerebral palsy are fighting to keep their newborn son at home, after social workers threatened to take the boy away over concerns about their ability to care for him.
Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton became parents to a healthy baby boy named William last month. But before the child was even born, the social worker at the hospital had called in the Peel Children’s Aid Society.
CAS workers told the couple they were not convinced they could care for William and threatened to remove him from their home unless they found an “able-bodied person” to offer 24-hour care.