State Bans Some Aversives, But Won't Pull Funds From JRC
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 20, 2006
ALBANY, NEW YORK--The New York Board of Regents approved a new rule Monday that prohibits the use of certain forms of aversive treatment methods -- such as automatic electronic shocks -- on students in and from New York.
Newsday reported that the new rule specifically bans any facility from using automatic shock devices, such as those that give a student a shock every time that student gets out of a seat, and prohibits the use of more than one form of aversive treatment at one time, such as shocking a student while in restraints.
The rule, which goes into effect this Friday, will apply to students within the state of New York and those that districts have sent to facilities in other states -- particularly the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, which houses 150 students from New York. Many of those students carry diagnoses such as post traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation, and autism.
Even though New York has sent students with disabilities to such institutions in other states, JRC is the only one that uses a "graduated electronic deceleration" device to change students' behavior. The GED, which is worn like a backpack, delivers an electric shock through electrodes placed on a student's body. Staff with remote controls can deliver the jolts at any time.
Last Wednesday, New York education officials released a report that strongly criticized JRC for using electronic shocks, restraints, diet restrictions and other punishments to change students' behavior. The report's authors suggested that the facility's failures to fade such punishing interventions and integrate students in more inclusive environments might violate the students' rights under federal and state law.
On Monday, the head of JRC told Newsday that he had received a letter from the New York Education Department saying that it would keep paying the institution $50 million a year to house 150 New York students, at least while it reviews JRC's response to last week's report.
"State won't stop funding shock therapy school" (Newsday)
"State to limit student electric shock therapy" (Newsday)
"Editorial: A shocking form of therapy" (Boston Globe)