Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Abuse of Disabled Children - Hearing this Monday, August 29, 2011

A.W. v. Fulton County School District

Next Monday, at 10 a.m. at the Office of State Administrative Hearings, 230 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA  30303, a preliminary hearing will be held in the matter of A.W. v. Fulton County School District.  This case involves Alex being severely abused by the Fulton County School District and one of its teachers.  Before the school district ever placed Alex in the class to be abused, the teacher was known by a lot of school folks to hit, curse at, scream at, isolate, jack up, push down, name call (including calling the disabled children “little shits,”) and do other severely harmful acts to disabled children, including spraying Lysol on the children.

The issues to be addressed on Monday include DFACS objecting to providing documents of abuse of disabled children by the Fulton County School District and its employees even though the children’s names are to be redacted.  Another issue to be addressed is whether the media can cover the full hearing (Alex’s parents have opened the hearing to the public to try to prevent what happened to Alex from ever happening again).  The media is the first entity to care about Alex and his peers, and the media’s efforts may help to stop this horrific abuse from happening so freely in the future.   The administrative law judge has entered an order allowing the media to attend this Monday, and she will decide on Monday if the media can attend for the full hearing when witnesses are called to testify.

In addition, the school district has been served with subpoenas to produce documents this Monday as well as the chairs the children were tied to by the FCSD and its teacher.  The family knows, much after the fact, that Alex was abused at school, as many reported this, but the family does not know all the abuse Alex suffered.  Alex’s parents have asked the school district probably at least 10 times to please tell them what happened to their son, but to no avail (the district did finally provide documents upon threats of litigation, but there is information that is needed that is not being provided).  Hopefully Alex’s parents will learn more next Monday.

The public is invited to attend the hearing this Monday.  If you can and wish to attend, please show your utmost respect for this forum, the administrative law judge, and the process and do not give the administrative law judge any reason to think less of us parents of our special children.  It is easy to become emotional in such situations, and emotions are understandable, but we need to present who we really are and a united front, one that shows the world we are like everyone else, and in fact, that we, as parents of children with disabilities, have our priorities in order. 

The abuse was severe and known.  As one administrator put it, “everyone knew but the parents.” One educator stated, “They can’t talk anyway, so who are they going to tell?”

Other comments by educators include the following:  “I’ve never worked in a place like that – it’s just horrendous.”, “A lot of people saw it.”, It’s pretty ugly.”, No way you could miss it.”, Everybody is bullet proof.”, it was all “washed under the table,” “I did not want to come back.”, “the system sucks,” “Nothing changed,” “Ain’t nothing gonna happen.  Something’s gotta happen.”, “I could not sleep at night,” “I told her over and over – you are breaking the law.”, “It was awful.  I hated working there, and I’d never go back there.”, “the whole situation was horrendous,” “it was just horrendous,” “pitiful,” “so bad,” “it was a constant thing . . .  even up to the last event . . . the same things happened every single time,” “there is nothing to undo [the harm],” “it’s so upsetting,” “I felt so bad.”

What is heart wrenching is that Alex and his peers and their parents will never recover from the abuse these children suffered.

We must all do whatever we can to stop this from ever happening again.

Please share this with all your other Georgia list services, friends, family members, neighbors.   



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