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June 18, 2007

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Phyllis Musumeci

Restraint and Seclusion on Children with disabilities in the Florida Public School System. Who will stand up for our children?


Why is the school staff restraining my child? He can't help the way he is and what they are doing to him is only making his behaviors worse. Don't they understand this? They are breaking his spirit!

These are the words of so many parents.

There are many Florida families who have children with Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorders that are being restrained and put in seclusion in the public school system. Our children are being abused physically and mentally because of their disabilities and the lack of appropriate school programs (public and private) and highly qualified teachers available to educate them. Many parents are so frustrated with the way their children are treated in public schools that they are turning to the school Hospital Homebound programs to keep their children safe yet still be able to receive some education. The average time allowed for Hospital Homebound is approximately 3-5 hours a week which is not even close to a normal school week.

Our children are coming home injured physically and mentally and there is nothing parents can do about it. No laws, no regulations, no tracking, no consent from parents and no parent notification in many cases. The current system allows the FLDOE and every school district to be their own police force for the documents they have created and the lack of documents that have not been created. If you file a complaint with the DOE you are filing a complaint with them, about them. Filing a complaint with the DOE is a broken process for families.

Please visit our national and state Blog sites.

Families Against Restraint and Seclusion
http://familiesagainstrestraintandseclusion.blogspot.com/

FLORIDA Families Against Restraint and Seclusion
http://floridafamiliesagainstrestraint.blogspot.com/

PENNSYLVANIA Families Against Restraint and Seclusion
http://pennsylvaniafamiliesagainstrestraint.blogspot.com/


TENNESSEE Families Against Restraint and Seclusion
http://www.autismrights.org/blog/?p=3

Regards,
Phyllis Musumeci
Palm Beach County, Florida

Phyllis Musumeci

Dear Parent Advocates,

The Attorney General's Office of Florida is trying to compile a list of participants to meet and talk about their issues and concerns regarding restraint, seclusion, abuse and neglect in our public schools on children with Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities. This meeting will be open to anyone in Florida.
Parents with concerns can call the citizen services hotline at (866) 966-7226 .

You can also send me an email and I will add your name to the list of people that would like to attend the meeting in August. The Attorney General's office will be sending out a meeting notice to let you know the date, time and location of the meeting.

Regards,

Phyllis

cvm514@bellsouth.net

Phyllis Musumeci

National Disability Rights Network Releases Shocking Report
on Seclusion and Restraint in U.S. Schools

School is Not Supposed to Hurt: Investigative Report on Abusive
Restraint and Seclusion in Schools http://www.napas.org/

REPORT : School is Not Supposed to Hurt http://www.napas.org/

(I noticed one mistake in the article. There is no Florida law)

National group and local mom seek to end restraint of special education students

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/palmbeach/extracredit/entries/2009/01/16/national_group_and_local_mom_s.html#jump
Please click on the above link to leave a comment at the bottom of the article.
By Laura Green | Friday, January 16, 2009, 06:42 PM

A Palm Beach County mother and special education advocate went to Washington D.C. this week to continue her fight to ban the use of restraint and seclusion against special education students.

The National Disability Rights Network invited Phyllis Musumeci, founder of Florida Families Against Restraint and Seclusion and the national Families Against Restraint and Seclusion, to the release of a new report showing widespread use, and some say abuse, of restraint and seclusion in the nation’s public schools.

The report documents a number of cases when restraint led to the death or serious injury of a child.

The report was timed with Barack Obama’s inauguration. The group is hoping the new administration will pursue a ban on seclusion, placing a child alone in a room or other place, and prone restraint, when a child is held face down.

Florida law allows school officials to restrain special education students who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Musumeci said that phrase is used too loosely and that children are often restrained when there is no danger.

Musumeci has been fighting against the practice since she learned nearly two years ago that her son, Christian, had been restrained at least 89 times in a period of 14 months.

School staff did not report the restraints to Musumeci initially. She lobbied to get the school board to adopt a policy requiring schools to keep records of all restraints and to report to parents when a staff member restrained their child.

“I want people to know this is not an isolated incident,” Musumeci said. “There are hundreds of families in Florida who desperately need help. Every story is worse than the last one.”

In its report, the National Disability Rights Network found a lack of laws or policies to protect children and inadequate or nonexistent reporting requirements.

Many of the children who are restrained or placed in seclusion have disabilities that hamper their ability to speak or otherwise communicate. Oftentimes their inability to communicate leads to frustration and behavior that is mistaken for aggression, Musumeci said.

“Because school staff do not understand what our children are trying to say through behaviors, they are punished by being restrained, put in seclusion, suspended and arrested,” Musumeci said. “The trauma this has caused our children and the emotional drain to our families should never happen to any child or family.”

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who attend the Tuesday press conference, led the fight for legislation to reduce restraint and seclusion in health care settings ten years ago.

“Children are supposed to be safe at school, and most of the time they are, but unfortunately, this report shows us that in too many schools, in too many places, children with disabilities are not safe and are often subjected to inhuman treatment,” Dodd said.

Musumeci said she is grateful for the National Disability Rights Network for publishing the report and bringing into the open concerns about the use of restraint and seclusion. She also thanked Sen. Chris Dodd for taking on the issue.

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