All parents and advocates should read the 65 page PDF decision (at the bottom of this post) in the Alex Williams vs Fulton County School District decision regarding horrific physical and mental child abuse by a special education teacher at Hopewell Middle School and years of school cover-up by the Principal and County officials. In this case, had this teacher been fired when abuse was first noted by school personnel and reported to Special Education County staff and Principal, Alex would not have been abused and allowed to be tormented.
As parents and advocates, this case teaches us we must all work together to change Mandatory Reporting practices for all educators. NO longer can we allow what happened in this case. No longer can we allow Principals ALL power. This impacts ALL children, not just special needs.
It also teaches us we must continue to advocate for Inclusive and Non-segregated classrooms. Special Education classrooms should NOT be isolated alone down one hall, but intermingled amidst general education classes. Where are your classrooms?
Here are related articles published this week regarding this decision:
AJC - Alex Williams Was Denied a FAPE http://www.ajc.com/news/judge-fulton-schools-owes-1327242.html#.Tyn0BGXVcCI.email
WSB - http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/fulton-schools-ordered-pay-tuition-after-abuse-tea/nHSHD/
Thanks to parents of Alex Williams and attorney Chris Vance, this case was open to the public. Myself and many special education advocates and attorneys attended daily to support the Williams family. Additionally, the media was present daily and I want to personally thank Jeff Chirico at CBS for his excellent coverage of the case I’ve posted at http://iepadvocate4you.blogspot.com/2011/08/abuse-cover-up-on-spec-needs-students.html . Mike Petchenik with Channel 2 news is also covering this decision and doing a terrific job keeping it in the spotlight. None of us must ever forget.
Fulton County residents should be furious this case was allowed to be litigated wasting your tax payer dollars. There needs to be an Open Records investigation to find out the entire cost of this case. You need to hold your School Board accountable for this tragedy. Two Fulton County school attorneys quit because they refused to litigate for the firm. The school district already had a shocking internal investigation documenting years of abuse and cover-up between 2004-2007, which has been previously posted on my blog at http://iepadvocate4you.blogspot.com/2011/08/fulton-county-report-of-investigation.html . Additionally there was a report by the GPSC posted at http://iepadvocate4you.blogspot.com/2011/08/gpsc-investigation-report-of-melanie.html . These are must reads for all parents, esp. parents in Fulton County. School Board President, Linda Schultz testified she was aware there was an investigation report documenting abuse by one of their teachers, but she had never read it. If you even believe that, you must ask WHY? Even if she hadn’t read it but knew about it, WHY had she not taken action? Should she still be your school board President?? Five years later, WHY has the teacher who abused the children and the Principal who covered it up never been prosecuted? Tough questions that need to be answered!
What is even most shocking is the school districts response to CBS regarding the decision in this case:
“This situation never should have happened and our hearts go out to the family for what their child has experienced.
It is in no way an indication of the character or culture of Fulton County Schools. We are pursuing criminal charges against the former teacher in this case.
We hope that this brings some sense of closure to this unfortunate circumstance.”
If their hearts went out to this family, WHY did they put them through this Due Process hearing stating their school district provided this child FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education)? Why did they never apologize? Why did they not notify the parents when they discovered abuse occurred? Why did they not share the internal investigations reports with these parents? Why did they continue to not provide all educational records?
How can any parent ever trust Fulton County School District again in light of this case?
Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188
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"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." ---- Thomas Jefferson
“Refrain from Restraining, Secluding and Corporal Punishment & Aversives are Abusive and Dehumanizing” ---- Carol Sadler, Advocate
GNET=GetNoEducation/Therapy=PsychoNOed=Jail without Jury or Trial=Imprisonment without Legal Representation
CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED
Information contained in this communication is confidential and privileged. It is not meant to represent legal or medical advice, but rather advice given based on my knowledge as a trained Parent Advocate by the GA Advocacy Office, Council of Parent Advocates & Attorneys, CHADD, LDA, the GA DOE Parent Mentor program as an invited guest and the special education attorneys that I often work with on educational matters. Please do not forward without my permission.