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Why Are Parents Putting Wires On Special Ed Students?

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Charlie is now a happy school boy at the county autism center he attends. There are some 200 students at his school in central New Jersey and even more staff and most know Charlie by name. Charlie has been at this school since November of 2009 after a very contentious experience with a central New Jersey school district (that we no longer live in, though Charlie still attends the same autism center). We are no longer arguing with the school district about teaching methodologies, staffing levels, hours of therapies, incident reports and so forth. We now spend meetings about Charlie’s Individualized Education Plan discussing his education, instead of arguing about special ed law, placements and behavior plans.

Some might say we’re just tired of fighting and gave in and agreed to have Charlie attend a separate, out-of-district autism center rather than attempting to have him in a classroom in a local public school with the supports he needed. That is one way to see the matter.

But another is that, we chose to acknowledge the limitations of what a public school district itself could do and chose a setting that seemed to offer Charlie as accommodating, and conflict-free, a climate as possible. Looking back, there must have been quite a bit of stress on Charlie’s special ed teachers and therapists who worked in public schools, having to teach their students and also deal with the other faculty, parents and administrators who may have felt the special ed students were just occupying space and taking away resources. Charlie is extremely sensitive to other people’s emotions; being minimally verbal, he is incredibly attuned to non-verbal communication. I am sure he was well aware of contention between school staff and parents and was often confused and frustrated that we adults couldn’t get along, when he was trying so hard to learn.

Charlie has always wanted to go to school to learn and to do his best to have good days, not to find himself the cause of angry disputes. Parents sending in special ed students wearing secret recording devices is a sure sign of one thing: Something is very wrong with a special ed program and with communication and interactions between parents and school staff. So much contentiousness is too often the case but it must be addressed. How can we make sure that everyone is truly on the same page about providing the best education possible for our students?


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11:16AM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

if you don't do well with kids under pressure or special circumstances, do NOT be a teacher

10:06AM PDT on May 9, 2012

Grazie per l'articolo.

8:30PM PDT on May 6, 2012

I think it's a great idea. One of my school bullies was a teacher. They have cameras on some school buses and I've often wondered why they didn't have them in classrooms.

11:04AM PDT on May 2, 2012


12:37PM PDT on May 1, 2012

I can't believe anyone would defend the horrible people at these schools that did this by rationalizing away that there shouldn't be an expectation that they are trained to deal with autistic kids. NOTHING justifies bullying or demeaning kids or acting so unprofessionally, regardless of any other factors.

Also, recording in private requires consent or some other warranted justification, but recording in public does not, so in a public school, there would have been nothing illegal about what these parents did, and the contents would be allowable as evidence of the wrongdoing that they discovered.

7:56AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Petition on this issue:

I do address the privacy issue. I think in this case, the parent felt he had exhausted other options trying to figure out why his child was acting out at school, when he saw no evidence of such behavior in other settings.

Also, as I understand it, this was a class of all autistic children. I would assume those in charge were or should have been trained to deal with and understand special needs.

7:20PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

Recording ANYone without their full KNOWLEDGE and CONSENT is illegal under the current laws of the US. Any judge who knows anything about the law will have this, and other, illegally obtained recordings, banned from evidence.

Nothing I read says anything about whether this was a school especially for special needs students, or whether it was a class of special needs students in a "regular" public school.

The post-secondary schooling necessary to earn not only a bachelor's degree but a teaching credential as well is often five to six years, and expensive as hell. Expecting ALL teachers to spend even more money and more time taking the additional courses necessary to deal with students outside the "normal" classification is neither fair to the teachers nor fair to the system itself.

It seems rational to expect special needs students to attend schools designed to accommodate their needs, and to be taught by teachers who WANT to be there and who have TRAINED to be there. And NO, this is no more segregation than are special schools for the performing arts (remember the film and tv shows titled "FAME"?), or special vocational high schools, or charter schools that only accept high-IQ students (Lowell High in San Francisco).

I am surprised that so many parents of special needs students don't seem to "get" that their kids are actually being short-changed by being sent to schools that are not designed to satisfy those needs.

5:34PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

They should all be wired up and these places should have cameras too. In fact All schools should have CCTV. Make education transparent, not as some secret society. If anywhere needs surveillance it is where ever children and the disadvantaged are.

11:57AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Even if these children are difficult to deal with, no teacher has any business saying things to a child such as, 'shut up' or 'you're fat' or any other emotionally hurtful statement. There are ways of indicating your dislike of a students behavior without hurting their feelings.

2:46AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

I know I too wanted to wire up my daughter before she would go to school each day...I would worry that the special ed teacher was going to throw her out of a window if she acted up... you could see the animosity in his eyes when he'd discuss her behavior issues and he never said one positive thing. I look back now and we were trail blazers but at what cost? We were encouraged by ARC members to either take them to task or conversely to be nice and work with them. I'm not sure anymore if that's the correct approach. My thoughts were that my girl wanted to be like everybody else and being in a public school system she might mirror positive role models which would improve her behavior but alas, every day when she'd arrive home from school she threw a major temper tantrum and as a parent you have to try to undo the negatives that haunted her daily...perhaps there aren't that many positive role models to make the difference. Perhaps parents should reconsider public education for their impressionable children. All I know is that her behavior improved once she graduated...what would be your conclusion?

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