Friday, January 22, 2010

Protecting students against abuse in schools

COPAA (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.) posted their position on the congressional bills H.R. 4247 and S. 2860 regarding the use of seclusion and physical restraint in schools. It gives a great overview of the bills that were introduced to Congress last month.

This legislation would provide students with and without disabilities protection against abuse in schools.

It is well-documented that the use of restraint and seclusion in schools is neither effective nor therapeutic. Instead, it is mentally and physically abusive. Despite this, thousands of cases of restraint and seclusion occur in our nation’s schools annually, often with tragic results, including the death of children.
For years, schools’ use of restraint, seclusion, and aversive interventions was unpublicized and little-known, despite their widespread use. However, recent reports by COPAA [1] and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)[2], and Congressional testimony by the U.S. Government Accountability Office [3] have served to shine a spotlight on these abusive practices. In their findings sections, H.R. 4247 and S. 2860 recognize that "physical restraint and seclusion have resulted in physical injury, psychological trauma, and death to children in public and private schools," as described in these reports. The reports also note that existing laws alone have not protected students against such abuse and injury, though many do offer important protections. The bills, therefore, include a critically important savings clause that preserves existing additional rights under state and federal law.
COPAA is a national organization of parents, advocates and attorneys dedicated to protecting the civil and educational rights of children with disabilities, whose members represent families in 48 States and the District of Columbia. As such, COPAA believes this legislation is a crucial first step toward the ultimate goals of eliminating abuse and restraint in schools, limiting use of restraint and seclusion to true emergencies, and assuring that children who exhibit challenging behaviors obtain appropriate, safe, and effective educational services.
You can read more here.

Career Development students find jobs

Disability Scoop reported that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities fell in the month of December! This is great to hear, but it should also remind us that we still have a long way to go to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to hold meaningful employment and to become empowered citizens in our community.

A couple of The Arc's former CDJP students are starting jobs this month. Steven Beckham was recently hired at Cracker Barrel and Alexis Chalmers is now a receptionist with Black Lion Security. Congratulations!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center resources

If you'll be in Nashville in the coming week, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) has the Creative Expressions XV exhibit up until January 12. The exhibit features art in many mediums by artists with a wide range of disabilities.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has an array of brochures and information also available to visitors that you can take home, including a comprehensive bibliography for emergency preparedness and response for the disability community. Many of the articles and resources can be found online and include information for families from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Institute of Family Involvement, pamphlets from the National Organization on Disability and FEMA, a disaster preparedness poster from the University of Kansas, and employer information from the Job Accommodation Network.

VKC also has a great resource list on their website with links searchable by topic.