Parents Claim Teacher Restrained 5-Year-Old
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 23, 2005
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--The parents of a 5-year-old girl who has Asperger syndrome are claiming that a special education teacher at her school illegally restrained their daughter last year.
Barry Grushkin and June Loeffler accuse the teacher at Mary Lyon School of placing Anaya Grushkin in a "basket hold" by holding her wrists from behind her, crossing her arms, then pushing down on her.
Mr. Grushkin said he would not have believed it if he had not seen the teacher do it in front of him last spring.
Officials with the Boston Public Schools have refused to talk about the specifics in the case, except to deny that the restraint could even have taken place.
The Massachusetts Department of Education prohibits the use of restraint to control behavior. Restraints are permitted only when a student presents a serious threat to himself or herself or others, and when less intrusive measures have not worked.
"Restraint doesn't do anything but stop an immediate situation," Mary Cerreto, associate professor of family medicine and director of the Center on Self-Determination and Health at Boston University Medical Center, told the Allston-Brighton TAB. "It does not teach the child what it is that she should do correctly. It does not prevent future occurrences of the behavior."
"Restraint, even when applied by trained professionals, can be lethal," Cerreto added.
In fact, several children have died in recent years from certain physical restraints.
Boston Public School spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo said that restraints are used, not as a punishment, but as an intervention to ensure the safety of children.
Anaya Grushkin's parents decided earlier this month to home-school her. They also said they are looking at their legal options.
"Boston, as a school system, fights parents tooth-and-nail on special education issues," said Mr. Grushkin. "They don't do anything until a lawyer steps in."
"We are all perplexed as to why this school and, perhaps, now many other schools in [the Boston Public Schools] are doing this."
"Shaken and stirred" (Allston-Brighton TAB)
"Family not alone: Parent charged Lyon in 1999" (Allston-Brighton TAB)