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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 12:25 AM

DAILY KOS: Our Autistic Son was Handcuffed and Arrested in School, We Were Not Notified

This is an unbelievable, outrageous, infuriating and frightening story...

Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 07:28 AM PST
Our Autistic Son was Handcuffed and Arrested in School, We Were Not Notified
by dsnodgrass

Note: Please sign this petition to help my son, and to halt the abuse of special education students in the school district referenced in this diary.

In December, 2012, a teenager went to his public school, much like any other day. The boy was an autistic special education student, who is significantly learning disabled and on a regimen of prescription medications for a number of psychiatric disorders. That day, the boy's parents began to worry when he did not come home after school.

What the parents did not know was that early on that morning, armed police officers had entered the boy's classroom, handcuffed him, and had taken him away to be interrogated without a call to his parents or any attorney, then locked up for several days.

The boy is our son.

The police action at the school was part of a "sting operation", which was secretly brought into local school district classrooms, with the assistance of key school administrators. Their goal was "identifying and purchasing illegal drugs from persons dealing".

The problem is, our son is not and never was a drug dealer.

There were plenty of news articles about how the sheriff's department heroically took down the 22-student "drug ring, with a picture of a kid being led away in handcuffs. The kid in the picture is our son.

And of course, the district was happy to tout their zero tolerance policy to the press, though zero tolerance has its fair share of critics, especially as relates to minorities and students with disabilities.

Many have linked the growth of the pipeline to zero-tolerance policies that removed educators’ discretion over how to properly respond to student misbehavior. The unintended effects of severe school discipline, often for minor infractions, include further alienation from the school setting, decreased graduation rates, and increased interaction with the criminal justice system.

Data shows the burden of this trend falls disproportionately on students of color and students with disabilities, who are punished more harshly and more frequently for the same infractions other kids engage in. According to national data from the Department of Education, African American students are 3 1/2 times more likely than their white peers to be suspended—and while they represented just 18 percent of the students in the sample, they accounted for 39 percent of expulsions. Of the total students arrested or referred to law enforcement nationally, 70 percent were Latino or African American. A groundbreaking study in Texas also found racial disparities in disciplinary decision.

Students with disabilities are also subjected to overly punitive discipline at far higher rates than their peers. In fact, they are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions. And while they were only 12 percent of the students sampled by the Department of Education in their most recent data collection, they made up 70 percent of those subject to physical restraints. Both African American students and students with disabilities are also disproportionately subjected to the violent practice of corporal punishment.


On that very bad day, our son was arrested and handcuffed, in his classroom, in front of the other students, at approximately 8:30 a.m. We knew nothing about the arrest until around 3:45 p.m., after he didn't arrive home from school. After a series of frantic phone calls to the school, I spoke to the school's principal who then informed me of the arrest, with very few details, and a recommendation to contact the sheriff's department for more details.

During the time that had elapsed between his arrest, and our learning of the arrest, our son had been interrogated, without having been allowed to contact us. And of course, he had no attorney present.

Persuading personnel at the detention center to allow us to speak on the phone with our son was a challenge. And not until my wife notified the detention center's nurse that our son was going to require his round of medications each night and morning, and that it is documented that he engages in self-injurious behavior when his stress levels are elevated, were we allowed to speak with him.

We were not allowed to see him until day three, when he appeared in court, the same day as the other kids who had just been made participants in the school to prison pipeline.

The School to Prison Pipeline (STPP) is a nationwide system of local, state, and federal education and public safety policies that pushes students out of school and into the criminal justice system. The system disproportionately targets youth of color and youth with disabilities. Inequities in areas such as school discipline, policing practices, high-stakes testing, wealth and healthcare distribution, school “grading” systems, and the prison-industrial complex all contribute to the Pipeline.

The STPP operates directly and indirectly. Directly, schools send their students into the Pipeline through zero tolerance policies, and involving the police in minor discipline incidents. All too often school rules are enforced through metal detectors, pat-downs and frisks, arrests, and referrals to the juvenile justice system. And schools pressured to raise graduation and testing numbers can sometimes artificially achieve this by pushing out low-performing students into GED programs and the juvenile justice system.

Indirectly, schools push students towards the criminal justice system by excluding them from the learning environment and isolating them from their peer groups through suspension, expulsion, ineffective retention policies, transfers, and high-stakes testing requirements...

...Special education students represent 8.6% of public school students, but 32% of youth in juvenile detention nationwide.


Our son has great difficulties making friends, which is one of the hallmarks of those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), so my wife and I were thrilled when we learned, this past August, that our son had a new friend named Daniel. We had recently moved, and our son had just begun a new school year in a new school, within his same district, so to us, this new friendship seemed like a gift from the gods. Daniel was texting our son at a furious rate, yet each time we had our son invite Daniel over, there always seemed to be an excuse.

Daniel and our son had struck up a relationship in a class that they shared, and cell phone records show that during the course of a short period of time, our son received 59 texts from Daniel's number. Daniel was an undercover cop.

While there are some limitations to the information I can share, here is what I can provide at this time:

There are two components at play; the criminal and the educational.

On the criminal side, a judge ruled last week that my son's case will be dismissed after 6 months with no finding of guilt.

On the educational side, the district is attempting to permanently expel my son from all of their district schools. We have an expedited due process hearing scheduled against the district, and a favorable ruling would likely place our son back in his school, which is what he strongly desires. The first three days of the due process will occur next week. Without revealing more than I am able at this time, we believe we have a very strong case, and excellent legal representation. We also have made a rare move, in that we have opened the hearing to the press and the general public. We do have confirmation that the press will be present.

The district has shared that only three people within the district knew about the undercover operation while it was occurring, the Board President, the Superintendent, and the Director of Child Welfare and Attendance. Each time the petition at this link is signed, those three people, as well as all other board members receive the petition in their email. This puts them on notice that their actions in this matter will not remain a secret.

One final thought. Our son has been hurt, and much has been taken from him, including his ability to feel safe, and his ability to trust. We will never forget, we will never give up on our son, and we will never stop seeking justice.

5:22 PM PT: We got their attention!

Thanks for all the recs and good will, but mostly, thanks for signing the petition. The Director of Child Welfare and Attendance at the school district (one of the three who knew about this undercover operation) has just started sending out automated replies to all who signed the petition, questioning their authenticity.

If you get it, please reply to let him know you're for real. He will receive your message.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/01/1182672/-Our-Autistic-Son-was-Handcuffed-and-Arrested-in-School-We-Were-Not-Notified#20130201172253

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Reply DAILY KOS: Our Autistic Son was Handcuffed and Arrested in School, We Were Not Notified (Original post)
FourScore Feb 2013 OP
hedda_foil Feb 2013 #1
liberal_at_heart Feb 2013 #2
2naSalit Feb 2013 #3
Smilo Feb 2013 #4
Flying Squirrel Feb 2013 #5
qw3rty3 Feb 2013 #6
im1013 Feb 2013 #7
newfie11 Feb 2013 #8
Whovian Feb 2013 #9
IdaBriggs Feb 2013 #10
customerserviceguy Feb 2013 #11
yardwork Feb 2013 #13
hunter Feb 2013 #14
customerserviceguy Feb 2013 #21
OldDem2012 Feb 2013 #22
hunter Feb 2013 #23
customerserviceguy Feb 2013 #24
yardwork Feb 2013 #12
SomethingFishy Feb 2013 #15
avebury Feb 2013 #16
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 #17
pacalo Feb 2013 #18
RedCappedBandit Feb 2013 #19
barbtries Feb 2013 #20

Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:00 AM

1. What a terrible experience.Signed, of course. nt

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:15 AM

2. It is heartbreaking what they are doing to our special education students!

I'm tearing up. It can be very difficult to see them being treated with such disregard. It takes a toll on their self esteem and as a parent sometimes you just don't know what to do. I hope they hang in there and keep fighting for their son. I know I'm still fighting for mine.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:17 AM

3. Done!

I always had an uncomfortable feeling about Temecula, scary stuff goes on there. I remember when it wasn't even there as a community but was part of what was then known as Murrietta.

I hope they get their demands met and some compensation as well. Temecula isn't poor by any stretch.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:24 AM

4. This made my blood boil when I read it

what the hell is going on in our school systems - children taken away handcuffed and bullied by PDs without notification to parents is becoming more and more commonplace. It is wrong and it is immoral on the School and PDs part.

Signed petition and K&R

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 02:38 AM

5. k/r/signed

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:22 AM

6. Charges?

So what was the kid charged with?

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:38 AM

7. Signed and tweeted!

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 05:52 AM

8. OMG what is happening to this country

To do this to a child is beyond horrible. I can't imagine where we are headed

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 06:02 AM

9. Signed. K&R

 

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 06:04 AM

10. Signed! Nt

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:07 AM

11. I'm puzzled

What was the charge that the boy was arrested on? The OP never says, but seems to attempt to say that it was merely for having autism, and makes vague references to a drug sting operation. It makes me wonder if the youth in question was giving or selling his medications to other students, and if that's the case, then I can see why an arrest was made.

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #11)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:12 AM

13. You can see why a minor child with autism was led away from his classroom in handcuffs?

You can see why his parents weren't notified? What about the child's right to due process? Just the rumor that he was selling his prescription drugs was enough for him to be arrested, cuffed in front of his classmates, paraded in front of the media? A minor?

This kind of tolerance of the police state is what is sending the U.S. down the toilet. Please think about what you are allowing to happen.

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #11)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 12:55 PM

14. A cop befriends an autistic kid and convinces him to share his prescription?

You don't see anything wrong with that?

What next, maybe they go after the trisomy 21 kids too?

Hey friend, I'll let you drive my dad's car while I do some business in the bank...

Some kids are going to be especially vulnerable to this kind of social manipulation by undercover cops.

What the police did here was reprehensible even if they are dealing with average kids.

The "drug war" is out of control.

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Response to hunter (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:21 AM

21. So, he was sharing his meds

It might not have justified the full extent of the tactics used (I'm sure they wanted to make this kid an example), but parents absolutely need to make damned good and sure that if their kids are allowed to take any kind of medications to school, they absolutely must keep them secure, and never, ever give them to another student under any circumstances.

These parents whine like victims, but their own lack of proper training is what got their kid in this mess. Instead of appealing for support, if I were one of them, I'd hang my head in shame.

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:48 AM

22. You should hang your head in shame, but for reasons obvious to anyone but you. nt.





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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:49 PM

23. Um, do you know any teenagers? We're you ever one yourself?

I did stuff that would have horrified my parents. My kids were straight A honor students in high school, raised properly in every way, and there's still things I haven't yet heard properly explained, including severe damage to family automobiles.

It's a fact of life that teens are more influenced by their peers than by their parents. This kid did a dumbass teenage thing, worthy of some punishment, but not this. And yes, autism is an extenuating circumstance.

The most shameful behavior here is by the police.

We taught our own kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol for their own protection. We told them they could talk to us if they found themselves having problems with drugs or alcohol. Our kids were fully aware at an early age of people among our own friends and family who'd messed themselves up badly abusing drugs and alcohol. But it never occurred to me to tell my kids they ought to be fearful of secret police posing as friends in the hallways of their own school.

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Response to hunter (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:13 AM

24. Yes, I had three kids

I even got custody of my middle child from his mother. And in about four and a half years, I turned him around from being a near criminal who had to go to summer school to pass from the 7th to the 8th grade into a fine young man who had pride in his community, and they in him, and he was accepted to both of our state's top universities.

It's just a reality of life that schools have zero tolerance policies on so very many things, and while it's not likely that a kid is going to bring a weapon to school, there are kids who have been prescribed medications. The parents have an obligation to the child and the child's classmates to make absolutely sure that the rules are followed 100% in these situations, because there are severe consequences.

What if a psychoactive drug caused a fatal allergic reaction in a fellow student? We'd look on that as having been a preventable tragedy. And strict enforcement is how you prevent that.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:10 AM

12. This is the result of "zero tolerance" and the drug war. What are we going to do about it?

To continue this "war on marijuana" that keeps for-profit prisons funneling profits to Dick Cheney, we've allowed our law enforcement to treat Americans like prisoners. When are we going to say no?

And what role does our Secretary of Education play in this?

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:22 PM

15. Sue the bastards.

I have a son with Autism as well. We are very very lucky, he is mostly functional and takes only one medication. Plus his school is amazing. The whole first year I was worried to death that he was being bullied or just sitting in a corner alone all day. Turns out the kids in his school took him under their wing, he's got lots of friends and was voted "Prom Prince" for his grade the last two years.

When I read stories like this I realize how lucky we are.

I know we are a nation that has a tendency to sue way too much, but this? No, they need to pay for this. The city, the cops, the school, Get a good lawyer. You can get enough money for your son to go to school wherever you choose, money for his medical care and money for the counseling he's going to need to get over this.

And BTW have you ever been to GRASP? http://grasp.org/ It's a support network for families dealing with Autism and Aspergers.

Good luck to you and your son, no one should ever have to deal with something like this.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:29 PM

16. Signed. K&R

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:35 PM

17. I signed the petition and, oh, I will indeed reply if the director queries me.

This is really horrible, ugly shit.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 06:11 PM

18. I'm very happy to sign this petition.

I've bookmarked the article, along with the petition, & made several notes for reference if/when I'm contacted for authentication.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 06:20 PM

19. This disgusts me.

We need to do away with the for profit prison industry, end the war on drugs, and keep ill-trained cops the hell away from disabled children.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:11 PM

20. the petition won't load on my computer

i'll try later.

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