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Haverhill, MA: Charges of abuse and neglect for improper restraint used on kindergarten kids

Feb 1, 2018, Haverhill, MA, WHAV 97.9: Agency Reports Crowell Kindergarten Abused Children with Restraint Misuse Haverhill’s Crowell School kindergarten came under fire Thursday for abuse and neglect of children by improperly using “restraint, time-out and disciplinary” actions against children. Disability Law Center staff attorney Colleen Shea told WHAV a complaint lodged a year ago, involving a five-year-old student, sparked the investigation “The student was having a difficult time being upset in class, and the staff was restraining her at times prior to using other, less intrusive types of intervention,” she explained…. A report noted the restrained child’s parent said “she came home with adult size hand prints (red marks and bruising) on her small body from these restraints, calling into question whether they were administered in a way to prevent harm.” Shea explained why the school’s actions amounted to illegal neglect and abuse. “Restraints are supposed to be used as an emergency, last resort, kind of intervention. If a child is about to hurt themselves or hurt another badly, that’s when a restraint is supposed to be used.” Last May, the Disability Law Center informed the city of its intent to investigate. It found “students with disabilities at Crowell were subjected to abuse, neglect and improper practices.” The following month, officials visited Crowell, toured the school and interviewed two staff—a general teacher and a speech therapist. … The school’s only special education teacher, however, declined the agency’s request for an interview, a statement said. Officials went on to interview 20 families and seven families gave releases for student records, Eichner said. … “Two parents reported witnessing Crowell staff holding a large mat over the entrance to the closet (about the size of a door) to contain a hysterical child. One parent was called to the school at dismissal because her daughter refused to get on the bus. When the parent arrived, her approximately 40-pound daughter with disabilities was being held in the downstairs cubby closet by a Crowell staff member with a giant mat. The parent noted her daughter was screaming, crying and trying desperately to escape the small room…. According to the report, school staff said the mat was used only to protect the adult’s body and “never to contain a child in a room.” …Based on parent reports, the mats were used to both block the adult’s body and keep the child contained.

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