Friday, April 19, 2013

Reporting On Disability Abuse Earns Pulitzer Nod - Disability Scoop

Reporting On Disability Abuse Earns Pulitzer Nod - Disability Scoop

Reporting On Disability Abuse Earns Pulitzer Nod

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A series of investigative articles looking at the failures of a police force tasked with protecting people with developmental disabilities is being recognized as among journalism’s best.
Reporting from the online news site California Watch, which was founded by the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, was named a finalist this week for the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism.
The award recognized a five-installment series titled “Broken Shield” published between February and November 2012 examining California’s Office of Protective Services. Responsible for policing the state’s institutions known as board-and-care centers, reporters found that the department’s investigations of abuse were routinely fault-ridden.
In dozens of cases, for example, the news outlet found that women were allegedly sexually assaulted at state facilities, but no rape kits were ordered. In other instances, staff members at the care centers were allowed to continue working with residents even after being accused of abuse, the report indicated.
Since the stories were published last year, the series has prompted a criminal investigation and new laws in the state.
Considered journalism’s highest honor, the prizes are awarded annually by Columbia University. In addition to California Watch, The Washington Post was also named a finalist for public service reporting for examining mishandling of evidence by the Justice Department. The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the top prize in the category for an investigation of speeding among off-duty police officers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

District Opposes Virtual Schools

Jeff Grisamore Not: District Opposes Virtual Schools

Too many of our students are dropping out of school, being home schooled, or are being sent to private schools because this district can not or will not provide the education and services that they need.  Now they want to limit our students ability to get an education.  It is all or nothing to them.  We MUST send our children to their school or they do not deserve an education.  I'd never send my children back to their schools and I am demanding that our legislators provide alternatives for our children.

"says nothing of the fact that it is bad for students to receive their entire education online without the interaction with other students, teachers and people." Interaction with other students and teachers nearly destroyed my son.

Subject: [R7advocacy] Please consider contacting your representative about House Bill 470 (open enrollment), update on how our reps voted on House Bill 631 (teacher tenure and evaluations) and request for assistance for House Bill 178
R-7 ADVOCACY   April 16, 2013 

Dear Friend of Lee's Summit R-7 schools,

We are asking for your help again with House Bill 470, providing an update on how our representatives voted on House Bill 631 and also asking for your assistance with a newer bill – House Bill 178. This week’s issue of “R-7 Advocacy” is coming to your mailbox a day earlier than usual since we do not know when the vote for House Bill 470 will be scheduled yet.

Please consider contacting your House rep THIS WEEK about House Bill 470 (open enrollment bill) which would send state aid to home-school students, reduce the amount of funding available for public schools
There's still time to defeat this bill in the House of Representatives
This bill, which is headed toward its third and final reading in the House, would allow any student to enroll full-time in a virtual charter school. While charter schools are currently limited to St. Louis, Kansas City and any unaccredited school district, House Bill 470 would allow students from across the state to enroll in a virtual charter school. 

"Our district's stance has been that Missouri needs to fund its own virtual program and not create virtual charters that allow for open enrollment while diluting state education funding," said Dr. David McGehee, superintendent. "Supporters of this bill have indicated that the total cost would only be around $46 million and that, should the House budget pass, education would receive an additional $65 million dollars – therefore, it will not cost school districts. This rationale ignores the fact that we are already $680 million behind in funding the formula and that our state does not need to make new appropriations toward funding costly programming such as virtual charters."

Charter schools currently receive state aid payments equivalent to their local district’s state formula payment. It is expected that if House Bill 470 becomes law, the majority of students who would enroll in these virtual charter schools are students who are currently home schooled. This means the net effect of House Bill 470 is that it allows home-schooled students to receive state aid payments and further reduces the funds available for our Foundation Formula payments to public schools. 

The funding aspect of House 470 says nothing of the fact that it is bad for students to receive their entire education online without the interaction with other students, teachers and people. We live in a global society where employers look for the ability to work well with others; an entirely online education withholds those skills from students. 

Lee's Summit R-7 opposes 470. Please consider contacting your state representatives TODAY and urge him or her to oppose raiding the foundation formula to pay for virtual open enrollment.

House Bill 631 (teacher evaluation and tenure) defeated last week
Included are voting records for Lee's Summit area representatives on House Bill 631
Lee's Summit R-7 had opposed this bill which made changes to teacher evaluation and tenure, removing local control and making it more difficult to remove poor teachers from the classroom. House Bill 631 failed in the House by a vote of 102 to 55. Our district's representatives who voted "no" on the bill were Rep. Rick Brattin, Rep. Gary Cross, Rep. Jeff Grisamore, Rep. Donna Pfautsch, Rep. Joe Runions, Rep. Sheila Solon and Rep. Noel Torpey. R-7 representative Mike Cierpiot voted in favor of this bill.

Thank you to everyone who contacted their elected officials and to the seven representatives who voted against this bill, which would have hampered our district's ability to ensure that we have quality teachers in each classroom. 

House Bill 178 restricts local school boards' control of election issues
Lee's Summit R-7 is opposed to House Bill 178, which restricts election decisions made by voter-elected boards. The bill specifies that a proposal by any political subdivision – including locally elected boards of education – to enact a tax for any purpose that is submitted to and rejected by the voters may be resubmitted at any time in the immediately following two years BUT the proposal will not become effective unless this second election question is approved by at least 60 percent of voters. If the proposal is re-submitted after the two-year period, it would become effective if a simple majority is in favor. 

"There are numerous questions and interpretations regarding this bill and its impact," said Dr. David McGehee, superintendent. "We can definitely see problems for school districts. Although our district is not planning any ballot initiatives in the near future, it seems that communities should have the ability to make decisions about their school districts without this type of restriction.

Please consider contacting your House rep and sharing your concerns about House Bill 178.

Visit to read the 2013 R-7 Legislative Platform and see a list of area elected officials. This web page also includes a Toolkit for Advocacy.

The 'R-7 Advocacy' newsletter is designed to provide you with relevant and timely information about legislative activities. Through this electronic communication, we will also occasionally ask subscribers to consider contacting their elected officials about specific proposed legislation that would impact our students.
Thank you for subscribing to 'R-7 Advocacy'!

UNSUBSCRIBE: To unsubscribe to this newsletter, please visit, scroll down to "To unsubscribe from…," enter your e-mail and select "Unsubscribe or edit options." You may also e-mail Janice Phelan at with your request to be removed from the list. 

INVITING OTHERS TO SUBSCRIBE: If you know others who would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please direct them to or ask them to e-mail Janice Phelan at and ask to be added to the list.

To track a bill in the Missouri House of Representatives, visit
To track a bill in the Missouri Senate, visit and see "SEARCH FOR A BILL" on the left side of the web page.  

Janie Rohlfing                          
R-7 School District Communications Department
Stansberry Leadership Center
301 NE Tudor Road
Lee's Summit, MO  64086-5702
(816) 986-1014
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER:  This email and any attachments may be confidential and may contain privileged or copyright information.  If you are not the intended recipient, please call (816) 986-1107 and inform us that you have received this message in error.  Please do not copy, distribute or use this email or the information contained in it for any purpose.

Lawsuit against Ca DOE for systematic failure of disabled children continues - National special education |

Lawsuit against Ca DOE for systematic failure of disabled children continues - National special education |

Lawsuit against Ca DOE for systematic failure of disabled children continues

·         APRIL 9, 2013
A federal district judge in Sacramento has denied a motion by the California Department of Education (CDE) to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two parent associations on behalf of children with disabilities. (Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Ass’n v. Calif. Department of Educ (U.S. Dist. Ct., Eastern Dist., Calif. No. 2:11-cv-3471-KJM-AC)). The parents have charged the department with systematically failing to assure that their children receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as required by federal and state law. The Court’s ruling of March 29 means the plaintiffs’ case may move forward.
Plaintiffs’ lead counsel Rony Sagy, of San Francisco’s Sagy Law Associates called the ruling “an important breakthrough for California children with special needs.” The
complaint, filed in 2012 by Sagy Law Associates and co-counsel Stephen Rosenbaum of Berkeley, details the experiences of numerous children who have suffered as a result of
CDE’s systematic failure to adequately monitor, investigate and enforce laws at the school district level.
The complaint alleges, for example, that children with behavior problems have been improperly tied to their chairs and excluded from all educational opportunities. In
another instance, plaintiffs claim that a 14-year-old who was bullied and had attempted suicide, was determined to have no social or emotional needs. The non-English-speaking
parents of a child with an autism diagnosis and ADHD were told the district had lost his records and demanded the parents agree to an educational program with dramatically
reduced services.
Other systemic allegations include
·      unreasonable delays in student assessments,
·      sidelining parents in the educational planning process
·      failure to implement behavior and other educational plans
·      failure to offer services to students transitioning from high school to adult living
·      filing for unnecessary due process hearings against parents asking for an independent educational evaluation of their child.
The plaintiffs also claim that CDE’s own statistics show that California school districts are consistently performing below the minimal federal requirements, and the targets set by the department itself, in areas such as proficiency rates in English and math.
CDE had argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiffs’ lawsuit because the federal Department of Education had exclusive authority to enforce the State’s monitoring and enforcement obligations.
The Court disagreed, finding that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act explicitly charges the states with frontline responsibility to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education.
The department also maintained that there was no private right of action to sue under federal law. The Court again disagreed. The Court also rejected CDE’s argument that the plaintiffs were barred from pursuing their special education claims because they had not exhausted their administrative remedies, such as a due process hearing or a compliance complaint filed with the department.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Sagy highlighted the need for a prompt resolution: “The stakes for these young people and their parents could not be higher. Taxpayers’ money is increasingly spent on legal fees to fight parents, rather than to provide their children with the necessary educational services.” According to the complaint, one school district spent $80,000 in an unsuccessful effort to avoid reimbursing parents the $4,500 cost of a statutorily provided independent educational evaluation. Sagy said plaintiffs hope to minimize the cost of litigation by engaging CDE in a mediated process designed to address the endemic problems alleged in the complaint.
The department had rebuffed earlier efforts to mediate.
CDE is represented by Paul Lacy and Kate Legrand of the department’s Legal Division.

Autistic man beaten by caregiver highlights increasing safety issues - Chicago Autism & Parenting |

Autistic man beaten by caregiver highlights increasing safety issues - Chicago Autism & Parenting |

This kind of abuse has become very normal for children and adults with autism in the public school system, residential centers and by many hired caregivers.  How are we supposed to keep our children and adults with autism safe in a world that does not understand them and is quick to abuse them?  And most abusers get away with it.

Autistic man beaten by caregiver highlights increasing safety issues

April 10, 2013
Autism parents often worry about how teachers, counselors, and other caregivers treat their children when mom or dad isn't around. This is especially true for parents of nonverbal kids, who are unable to advocate for themselves in many situations. The nightmare of abuse at the hands of caregivers was realized by one family this week. NBC 7 news in San Diego reported on April 8, that a man accused of abusing an autistic patient began his trial for the alleged crimes.

The man stands accused of beating a 23-year-old autistic man left in his care while the parents were out of town. The alleged victim in this case is non-verbal and engages in self-injurious behavior. A camera in the home captured footage of the abuse, and reportedly captured 2,000 images of violence against the young man. His mother reported that there are typically five caregivers in the home to help take care of his needs. The 50-year-old caregiver faces seven felony counts of abuse in the case. Another man has also been accused in the alleged abuse.

Parents have been increasingly concerned about the treatment that autistic children receive while in school or with other caregivers. The National Autism Association estimates that more than 200 students have died within the last five years due to restraints used in schools. Currently, no federal regulations exist to protect children from restraint practices that interfere with the ability to breathe. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania shows that over 18 percent of children with autism have been physically abused.

With such staggering statistics, it may seem difficult for parents of autistic children to know how to protect against abuse and restraint. Cameras, such as those used by the parents of the 23-year-old in San Diego, are a good starting point. Social stories can also be used to help children anticipate dangerous scenarios, and can help to communicate if they have experienced something similar. Parents should communicate with teachers and caregivers regularly. If it is possible, unannounced visits to schools can help to comfort the child and give parents peace of mind.

When it comes to autistic children who can't communicate abuse, parents must be vigilant to prevent abuse. Even the most seasoned caregivers can become frustrated with some children, but it is never an excuse for harming a child.