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Judge Rotenberg Educational Center Human Rights Violations

June 8, 2010

More data from the NYSED report on the Judge Rotenberg Center:

The meeting minutes from one student’s CSE meeting stated the student was unable to attend the meeting because she was in restraint. This was one of the students interviewed and she stated that she needed to talk with her CSE Chairperson regarding her behavior program at JRC, but was unable to attend the last meeting. On follow up with the Chairperson, the team learned that the student was in attendance at a more recent CSE meeting in May 2006, but was unable to participate because she could not control her sobbing. According to the Chairperson, the CSE recommended at the May CSE meeting that this student be faded from the GED.

While JRC collects comprehensive data on negative targeted behaviors, there was no evidence of the collection of data on replacement or positive behaviors to document the development of replacement or enhancing skills. Documentation was difficult to find for evidence of academic progress or development of positive social skills. The program descriptions of behavioral interventions are very standardized across students and show a lack of individualization of treatment planning.
Treatment plans do not always vary for different types of behavioral difficulties exhibited by an individual student, even though these behaviors may serve different functions for the student.

In one classroom it was observed that a new staff member was briefly informed that his role in the room was to monitor 1:1 student S and second party verification was not required before administering the GED. The new staff person was handed the SLED (GED transmitter) and verbally given direction and instruction in when to administer the GED. As the instructing staff person was departing, she also informed the new staff that student S is deaf.

There is no evidence that JRC considers the potential negative effects, such as depression or anxiety, that may result from the use of aversive behavioral strategies with certain individual students. Several students from NYS came to JRC with diagnoses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), yet their behavior programs call for skin shock. Skin shock has the potential to increase the symptoms associated with PTSD, yet there is no evidence of data measuring these possible side effects or therapies designed to treat these symptoms.

JRC is receiving federal funds to administer the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program that are not properly payable. JRC did not have adequate documentation to support that all meals served at the school met the minimum standards established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We have notified John Magnarelli, Director of Special Nutrition Programs for USDA’s Northeast Regional Office of this finding; he informed NYS that he has instructed the MDOE to formally notify JRC and request that they comply with the federal meal pattern requirements immediately.

A student, reported to have extreme head banging behaviors, was observed not exhibiting any inappropriate behaviors while having her hair braided by an adult in the classroom. Her appropriate interactions were not rewarded and/or acknowledged by the staff. However, the following day, this student was placed in a higher demand activity (academic computer work) and exhibited several head banging attempts. These behaviors were met with the ongoing loss of her contract. Loss of contract involved returning to the academic computer work. In this case, academic work was scheduled into the contract as a punishing consequence. The teacher reported that she would simply continue to lose her contract award and if the behaviors increased in intensity, it could result in the need to restrain her. Otherwise, no other intervention strategies were being used with this student. She is currently awaiting court approval for the use of Level III aversives.

[I want to draw special attention to this one. She can function okay in low-stress environments, but head-bangs in stressful environments. The “solution” is to punish her head-banging by keeping her in the stressful environment until she needs to be physically restrained, and they’re trying to get permission to use the remote zaps on her.  -ed]

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