Thursday, October 13, 2011

Special Ed Student Allegedly Choked by Staff Member

I had heard about this earlier in the day and was waiting for more info but here's what the Times has learned.

A 10-old Hawthorne student was choked by an IA when he said, "I hate this teacher."  The student also says the IA threatened him with another choking if the student said anything.

The child told his mother when he got home and she called police.  The police saw scratching and bruising around the child's neck.  There was no arrest reported in the story and the IA is on leave.

It is unclear if the teacher was around at all.  The IA worked for the district for 19 years.

Baffling if entirely true.  Obviously it is unclear if anyone else witnessed this incident.   It would seem odd for the IA to react in this way because kids say things like that all the time. 

But no adult has the right to lay hands on a child unless it is self-defense or defense of someone else or to move the child away from other students. 

16 comments:

Greg said...

The Stranger has an article here

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/10/13/seattle-public-school-teachers-aide-allegedly-chokes-student

with a few more details.

Hoping the truth will prevail said...

Consider this, there is supposed to be a certificated staff member in the classroom and I.A.s are not supposed to be left alone with a class. In the classroom the student is in, the teacher, another I.A., and other students were in the classroom. So there were witnesses to what really happened. And the classroom is a "B.D. Sped" self-contained classroom.

There are many times where children say something happened that did not really happen the way it did, so let the investigation run its course before passing judgement. (Not saying anyone has passed judgement.)

emeraldkity said...

Consider this, there is supposed to be a certificated staff member in the classroom and I.A.s are not supposed to be left alone with a class.

True.
But does it happen all the time?...
What do you think?

seattle citizen said...

I would certainly want to more about this before I really commented about it at all, but
I would say no to emeraldkity's question. While we can rest assured that most certs (and IAs) know the law and the expectation, some are loose with it that others. Some step out for a minute, some go down the hall, and some go to a make copies or whatever.

Step out in the hall? 50% at a guess. DOWN the hall? 20%. Copies? 5%

With a B-Mod class one would hope that it's close to zero, but one would hope that in any class (tho' realistically stepping into the hall for a minute is USUALLY a pretty safe bet. USUALLY.

We could demand zero tolerance for even leaving the room, but I don't think that's viable. Educators might be expected to use good judgment on a case-by-case basis. But if the s*** hits the fan, they are liable, sooo....

dan dempsey said...

Consider this ... allegedly

Anyone wondering why there is a shortage of Sped BD teachers?

What has happened to the number of IA hours worked in recent years?

I wonder if BD teachers are overwhelmed with paper work? Do actual Behavior Modifications take a back seat to paper work?

If the story from the child is true, this is very sad.

emeraldkity said...

I am glad to hear that currently we have a certified teacher in every room, when my neighbor had her child in self contained a couple years ago, that was not the case as the IA was the only adult available for the bulk of the year.( oh there was a certified teacher that they pulled out of retirement- he was in his 70s I believe and frail but the IA was more in charge- or not)

Let us teach and work for kids said...

Dan, speaking of paperwork, as I speak with colleagues across the district (Seattle) there seems to be a trend building, that is having MANY teachers do uneccessary paperwork not to be better teachers, producing high quality lessons for KIDS, but EXTREMELY detailed lesson plans (1-2 months ahead)'paperwork, posters, and the like for ADMINISTRATION!!! Yet unlike some other districts across the US who actually use their academic depts and coaches to create a bank of QUALITY lessons, including interactive board lesson to SUPPORT instruction!!!

I hear about high performing, highly qualified people wanting to leave the profession, because there are only so many hours we teachers can give in a day, and we'd prefer spending those extra hours we put in preparing for STUDENTS not ADMINISTRATORS who lack the ability to
know the curriculum we are expected to teach when the come in our classrooms, so we need to make and post things for them due to THEIR ineptness.

It would be interesting to hear what others think. Possibly on a different thread?

Floor Pie said...

There was scratching and bruising around his neck...you don't exactly get that walking into a door. The story is confusing, though.

The Stranger article makes it sound like it went from being a classroom full of people to just this IA and the kid...confusing. Maybe the IA held the kid by the neck and roughly walked him into one of those "quiet rooms."

I've heard of IAs snapping in the heat of the moment (pushing a kid into a closet, duct-taping a kid's desk shut, leaving a little girl on a playground by herself). Bad choices, of course, but it doesn't make them bad people. They're untrained and overwhelmed, and sometimes they are being left alone with students because of funding/staffing issues (thank you, ICS).

It's funny...two of the kindest, smartest, most truly empathetic IA's we've had were subs. (The others have been fine too, but these subs just rocked.) I wonder if there's something to that. Are they less overwhelmed because there's less expected of them? Less burned out because they've done the work for shorter periods of time, with more breaks in between? Or did we just get lucky? Well...lucky until the school district took them away without warning. Oh, SPS.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this incident at Hawthorne. Keep us posted.

emeraldkity said...

They're untrained and overwhelmed, and sometimes they are being left alone with students because of funding/staffing issues (thank you, ICS). ,

Particularly in middle or high school when the students can be physically strong and aggressive, it can be a dangerous situation for everyone.

Perhaps the IA subs are more idealistic ?
Also I wonder if when the teachers are new, the kids are on better behavior?

I have several friends with kids who were in self contained and they have some great attributes but also demand a lot of focus & energy from their teachers. ( admittedly- as do most kids)

Anonymous said...

You have to ask about the principal -- was she or he really not aware of this IA's anger and upset? Didn't the teacher notice and report an IA getting strung out? The IA's aggression did not come out of nowhere. It had to have been building up.

Just an indicator of the ways that our most vulnerable children and those who teach them are neglected.

In the system

dan dempsey said...

Do not assume we actually know anything about what happened at Hawthorne.

Nothing has been verified or reported by any witness to the events as far as I know so far.

In the statement too. said...

Thank you Dan for not assuming unlike the prior entry. Until all the facts are out people should not pass judgement.

emeraldkity said...

I don't think anyone is saying anything other than it is true that IAs are placed in situations for which they are not prepared - and that may be the case at Hawthorne.

Tim said...

Glad to see many waiting for a full investigation. It is very difficult to work in a school so long and not hear about accusations that later turn out to be unfounded and retracted. In my 20 plus years, I have heard of 3 situations in my buildings that required investigations - two were unfounded and retracted (one was sexual molestation, and the other was hitting) and one that the teacher was acused of looking down shirts, but it was handled so poorly it became clear that the district (not SSD) would not be able to press the case because the eye-witness accounts were so muddled by so many students and rumours that the truth would have been very difficult to ferret out without requiring many students and staff to go to court. In the alleged molestation case, the teacher was led out in the middle of class in handcuffs, only to get an apology later in the day. In the abuse/hitting case, I and others had personally witnessed the student accuser hitting themselves throught the day (they stopped when asked, but certainly we had noted the behavior) and then later in the day the student offered the bruise as evidence of abuse. In the last case, the teacher was counseled out/ retired early after an immediated forced leave.
Almost anything can happen in middle school. It is unfortunate that these kind of situations result in a blame-the-victim mentality.
I imagine both the student (and family) and the IA, as well as many others in the Hawthorne community, are all going through a very difficult time right now. No mattre how it comes out, the consequence/punishment phase has already kicked in, long before any guilt can be determined.

emeraldkity said...

On the other hand- before my child was in the district, I was observing the SPED room at our neighborhood elementary school to see if my child would be able to tolerate it.

It was the end of the day & there were only a couple of kids ( about 2nd 3rd gd) in the classroom, I am sure the teacher was tired but she was gracious in answering my questions.

However, she used shaming to try and get the boys to do what she wanted & told them not only that they were bad were going to be punished by missing the bus and their parents would be angry at having to pick them up.

I was shocked- especially since I was observing & I wondered what she would say if I hadn't been there.
She didn't think she had said anything unusual, when they left she remarked to me that " boys" were difficult & since I had a daughter, she was sure that she was better behaved. what ever.

However, I was grateful to have that knowledge before I placed my child there.

I kept her in private school for another year & when she entered SPS, we chose an alternative school.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea that kids are NEVER alone or monitored by IAs is ridiculous. Teachers are actually people. They have to pee and eat like the rest of us. The district certainly isn't hiring certified playground monitors or hourlies. You hire people, you run background checks, you set in place best practice, but the reality is- a million unplanned things happen everyday when you're dealing with hundreds of children. Pants wetting, asthma attacks, unplanned parents showing up, IEP meetings causing IAs to cover temporarily in a room. People are always looking for some big, glaring red flag that these incompetents missed or intentionally ignored. It's just not the case. People do their best in jobs that are really hard and at the end of the day, people always assume they took the easy way out. If you've ever been a teacher, you know there is no easy way out. Whether you're a good or bad teacher- it's a hard job. Will anyone ever know what happened? Probably not. But it is the job of all of us to support the kids and teachers at that school, because they are the ones dealing with a loss. A loss of a community member and a loss of trust in each other.

Anonymous