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ASPartOfMe
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16 Jun 2021, 9:27 am

Fort Worth student with autism died after being restrained at school. What happened?

Quote:
Ebonie Baltimore got a call on March 1 from the group home where her nephew, Xavier Hernandez, lived. Something had happened to Hernandez at school, the caller said, and he’d been taken to the emergency room.

When Baltimore and several other family members got to John Peter Smith Hospital, they were led to a private room. Baltimore knew something was wrong when hospital workers came in. Some were in tears, she said. Baltimore’s mother, Joyce Baltimore, asked the lead doctor to give her some good news.

“There’s no good news,” the doctor said.

Hernandez, who had autism, went to Boulevard Heights, a school in the Fort Worth district for disabled students. Teachers at Boulevard Heights restrained Hernandez earlier on the day he died, a district spokesman confirmed. An attorney with Disability Rights Texas, a Dallas-based disability rights group, said the organization is investigating reports that those restraints were improper and unnecessary.

Ebonie Baltimore said the district has refused to give her family any information about what happened in the last hours of her nephew’s life.

Disability Rights Texas is also investigating the restraint of another Boulevard Heights student, fourth-grader Toni Crenshaw, in an incident that was caught on video in May.

The incidents at Boulevard Heights follow a report released by Disability Rights Texas in December that says school districts across Texas use physical restraints against disabled students far more often than their peers. Disability rights advocates, parents of disabled students and some in Congress want to see stricter limits placed on when and how schools are allowed to restrain students.

Baltimore, who lives in Arlington, said her family decided to enroll Hernandez at Boulevard Heights because it seemed like the best fit for a student like him. In Texas, students who receive special education services may remain in public school.

Because of Hernandez’s disability, he was never supposed to be alone at school, Baltimore said. Someone met him every morning as he got off the bus and walked him to his classroom, and teachers were with him throughout the day. So, Baltimore said, someone knows what happened to Hernandez between the time he arrived at school and the time the 911 call was placed.

After Hernandez died, Baltimore called Boulevard Heights and asked principal Terry Guthrie what happened to her nephew. Guthrie sounded like he was reading from a script, she said. He told her he’d performed CPR on Hernandez before paramedics arrived, but wouldn’t tell her anything about what happened, she said.

The Star-Telegram requested all records documenting student restraints at Boulevard Heights on the date of Hernandez’s death. District officials refused to release those documents, citing protections under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. A district spokesman declined to say whether the district took disciplinary action against any school staff member following Hernandez’s death. The Fort Worth Police Department’s homicide unit is investigating Hernandez’s death, a police spokesman confirmed.

Anytime schools restrain a student, state law requires that they make “a good faith effort” to notify the student’s parents or guardian. Schools are also required to send a written notification to parents within 24 hours documenting where and when the restraint happened, which staff members were involved, the behavior that prompted the restraint and any steps school staff members took to de-escalate the situation before they restrained the student. After Hernandez died, his family got a notification from the district saying he’d been restrained that day.

But that doesn’t always happen. Crosby, the mother of the Boulevard Heights fourth-grader who was restrained, said the district never notified her about the incident that was caught on video.

After the playground incident, Crosby didn’t pull Toni out of Boulevard Heights. But she also didn’t feel she could safely send her back to school in person. So Toni will finish the school year online, and Crosby is working with a staffer from Disability Rights Texas to find Toni another school for next school year, she said.

Disability Rights Texas, the organization that’s investigating the two incidents, is the federally-mandated protection and advocacy system for the state, as laid out in a group of federal laws known collectively as the P&A Acts. Those laws grant the organization the authority to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect and represent people with developmental disabilities regarding rights violations.

In December, the group released a report showing that students with disabilities represented the overwhelming majority of the restraint incidents in districts across the state. The group reviewed records from the 2018-19 school year and found that, although students with disabilities make up only 10% of the state’s student population, they accounted for 91% of the restraints that school year.

Dustin Rynders, supervising attorney with Disability Rights Texas, said it’s difficult to know how Texas’ rate of restraints of disabled students compares with other states because of differences in the way states track restraints, if they track them at all. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that students with disabilities would account for an outsized share of the restraints in the state, since some of those students have behavioral issues that can be a challenge for teachers to manage, he said. But in Texas’ public schools, the use of restraints against students with disabilities is excessive, he said. That can lead to physical and emotional trauma, he said.

In the report, the group called on the state to bar schools from using prone and supine restraints — those in which the student is lying either face-down or face-up on the ground. Those restraints are more likely to block the student’s airway, Rynders said.

Congressional Democrats reintroduced legislation late last month that would bar schools that receive federal money from using restraints that restrict a child’s breathing, including prone and supine restraints. The bill, called the Keeping All Students Safe Act, would also bar schools from placing children in seclusion or restraining students except in cases where the student’s behavior “poses an imminent danger of serious physical injury” to the student, teachers, staff or other students.

In settings where restraints happen often, like schools for students with behavioral issues, that training should happen frequently, Rynders said.

Bolding=mine


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Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 16 Jun 2021, 9:52 am, edited 10 times in total.

funeralxempire
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16 Jun 2021, 9:32 am

Quote:
A bystander who recorded the video said a teacher appeared to be sitting on Toni, which is not an approved method of restraint.


Edit: So apparently that video isn't related to the death.

They need to investigate what occurred because teachers sure as hell shouldn't be employing restraint techniques that police aren't supposed to use. Teachers really shouldn't be laying hands on kids under any circumstance.


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ASPartOfMe
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05 Jul 2021, 6:55 am

Disability rights group calls for policy review after Fort Worth student’s death

Quote:
The Self-Determination Group, a North Texas organization for people age 14 and older with disabilities, requested the district bring in an outside investigator to review the district’s current restraint policies and practices and make recommendations for improvement. The group wants to see that review include the number and types of restraints school staff may use, the training provided to staff and how and when parents receive notification of a restraint


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Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman