18 February 2006. Thanks to Dara Young, a special education teacher who has been suspended without pay for reporting this matter.
Early Childhood Learning Center & Head Start
PO Box 399
South Cairo, NY 12482
February 1, 2006
A student in my classroom (H.B.) was restrained by Mr. Dave the week of December 12, 2005. Mr. Dave had been told previously by me and Patty Herbek, my co-teacher, not to restrain the student because his parents did not want it. Those present during this restraint were Marianne Johannessen, Program Aide; Patty Herbek, Head Start Teacher; and Holly Schoenborn, Teacher Assistant. Mr. Dave held the student because "he didn't want H.B. to destroy the classroom."
Mr. Dave was responding to an incident that had occurred moments earlier. H.B. had pushed another student in her chair away from the snack table, causing the child to become frightened. H.B. began disrupting the class by throwing boxes of small toys and yelling. While not common, this type of behavior is experienced in our school and we do not restrain children under such circumstances. Mr. Dave physically lifted H.B. and carried him to the other side of the room. Mr. Dave then held him from behind in a "basket hold," and released after five to seven minutes. H.B. threw more boxes of toys. Mr. Dave took him back to the same spot and put him in a basket hold for an additional ten minutes. Mr. Dave said, "I don't care if I get sued, he will not destroy your room Dara."
As the site Special Education certified teacher I felt that the restraint worsened the situation. In my professional opinion the restraint caused the child to act out further and cause more damage. Mr. Dave's ignoring the parents' wishes made the situation much worse. I reminded Mr. Dave that we were not allowed to restrain the boy. Mr. Dave restrained him anyway.
After school, Patty went upstairs to talk with the Head Start Director, Kathy Federico. Patty explained the situation and asked what we should do. Patty told me and Holly that Kathy said "no one should tell H.B.'s parents that he was restrained because the parents could sue the school." My immediate verbal response was, "That goes against my morals. I will not lie. Don't ask me to lie if the parents ask me." I felt terrible being asked to lie by my boss and a colleague at the expense of the child's welfare.
Some background to this incident: The week before, Patty restrained H.B. in a basket hold, and then, at my suggestion, called the parents to ask permission to restrain the child. The parents vehemently denied Patty's request to restrain the child.
The week of December 12, Mr. Dave performed the restraint described above, after all staff knew not to restrain H.B. At the end of the week of December 12, the parents met with the school and expressed that H.B. was having nightmares about being restrained. The parents felt that the school's restraining of their child caused the boy's nightmares.
Fortunately, the parents did not ask me about the situation -- however I am compelled by law to report this situation so I am providing you and the parents, with a copy of this letter.
cc. Dawn Geil & Harry Baldwin, Sr.