Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Children First- not so much

Children First- Not so much 

What am I missing here?   A special education teacher in Ohio gagged a student with a bandana to keep him from spitting.  She strapped another student to a toilet to keep her from falling off.  She forced a third student to sit with her pants down, fully exposed on a training toilet in front of her classmates.  An Ohio Court of Appeals has just ruled that the children’s rights were not violated, although it agreed that the teacher’s behaviors were “abusive”.   Since when is it not a violation of a person’s constitutional rights to be abused without due process of law?  The children all have autism and were between 6 and 11 years of age at the time of the abuse.  Do they not deserve the right to be treated respectfully?

After the allegations were made the teacher was suspended WITH pay for a year while the school district investigated.   A YEAR!   It took a year for the district to determine if there were wrongdoing!   Was there a question here?

The school district came to an agreement with the teacher.  The teacher admitted no wrongdoing.  As part of the agreement the teacher agreed to take 20-30 hours or coursework in special education.  I am betting the issue was not figuring out if there was wrongdoing.   The issue was probably negotiating the settlement with the union and the teacher’s attorney.

Who is protecting our children?   Clearly not the Court of Appeals who agreed the teacher’s behavior was abusive but not a violation of constitutional rights.   Definitely not the school district that paid the teacher for a year while it investigated something that was obvious.   And certainly not a teacher who humiliated and physically assaulted children with disabilities.  We have not a clue how many other kids have been abused by this teacher.  These were the only children we know about.

There are other questions as well.  The settlement requires the teacher to take 20-30 credits in special Ed.   That is quite a range of credits.  Given that many of the abuses were around toileting, these kids are probably at least moderately disabled.  Why was a teacher with minimal training teaching these kids?   One of the many flaws in No Child Left Behind was the failure to designate teachers certified in special education as Highly Qualified.  Special education was not an area in which a teacher could qualify.  Elementary education was such an area.  I do not know what the training was of this teacher.   But she may well have been highly qualified in elementary education but she was not in the least qualified in special education.

If our agencies do not care for these children, they are left to be protected by their parents.   Not a bad plan, but it assumes parents are comfortable enough with the system to use it to protect their children.   Can we just get that woman out of the classroom?   I doubt the credits are going to help all that much.

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