Boy Restrained Dozens of Times At "Special" School Program;
Mom Accuses District of Abuse
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 29, 2003
FERNDALE, MICHIGAN--During the eight months between August 2001 and April 2002, staff at the Oakland Schools Autistic Program at Halfman Elementary School held Jeanie McGow's 11-year-old son Jared face-down with his hands behind his back -- no less than on 73 occasions. Some of those times he was restrained in the position for 70 continuous minutes.
McGow pulled Jared, who has autism, out of the school. Then she went to report what she considered abuse to local police and the child protective services department. No one acknowledged that there had been any wrongdoing.
Local newspapers report that following a district investigation, one school official said that the restraints violated school district policy, and that measures had been taken to correct the violations.
A program psychologist and a program administrator that authorized the restraints were disciplined. A teacher and a teacher's aide who carried out the restraints were suspended during the investigation but were later placed back on the job without disciplinary action.
On January 14, McGow filed an official complaint with the Michigan Department of Education, claiming that Jared's treatment at the school was abusive. The next day, the department ordered Oakland School District to investigate her complaint and report back within 21 days.
"I'm very pleased that they acted so quickly," McGow said. "I hope children with autism are going to be paid a lot more attention now."
Now, McGow is going to the media with her son's story.
"I'm just a mom. I don't know what the answer is, I just know it needs to be addressed."