Student with disability restrained, given electric shocks at school
The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), a school for students with special needs in Canton, Massachusetts, is under investigation for questionable, risky, and potentially life-threatening treatment of its students.
Established as an organization to treat children with severe behavioral and mental disabilities, the JRC is being sued by the mother of Andre McCollins, a young man with a disability, over what she calls torture by JRC staff. WBZ-TV in Boston has additional details:
In court Wednesday, an expert witness for the family testified that the doctors stood by as Andre was shocked in 2002 at the age of 18. He says Andre was literally “scared stiff.”
Disturbing video of the treatment was shown in court. Jurors listened as Andre screamed as he was shocked, and yelled out, “No.” He was then restrained face down for hours.
“He was essentially in what we would call a catatonic condition,” says Dr. Marc Whaley. “That means a condition that happens with people that are acutely psychotically disturbed.”
The allegations of Andre’s mistreatment are especially disturbing since these events transpired in an environment that is supposed to be safe for children – school.
The issues raised in this case are not isolated. Last Congress, as Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) conducted hearings into abusive practices in schools involving the seclusion or restraint of children. An investigation, requested by Miller and conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found hundreds of allegations that schoolchildren had been abused, and some even died, as a result of inappropriate uses of seclusion and restraint in classrooms. Furthermore, the report found that the abusive practices were used disproportionately on children with disabilities, some as young as three and four years old.
Rep. Miller believes that there is no excuse for torture and abuse in America’s schools. That is why, in early April 2011 he re-introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act to ensure all children are protected at school. The bipartisan legislation would protect schoolchildren from inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion. The bill would, for the first time, put in place minimum safety standards to prevent abusive restraint and seclusion in schools across the country and protect students like Andre from any further mistreatment.
Learn more about the Keeping All Students Safe Act.