Act now: Autistic Child Charged with Felony

6 Jan

Below is an email I received from Meg Evans of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network on a situation involving a child who is being charged with Felony Assault for resisting restraints in his school. Worse yet is the possibility that the student could end up being sent to a mental hospital pending a competency hearing.

This is another ASAN Update for bloggers in the Autistic and disability rights communities. ASAN has created an Action Alert regarding the case of an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price, who has been charged with felony assault after a school restraint incident. There were no serious injuries, and the incident occurred under circumstances where the use of restraint would not have been legal if recently introduced federal civil rights legislation to protect children in schools had been in effect. We are asking that you take action by contacting the school principal and superintendent to inform them of your concerns and by reposting the ASAN Action Alert set forth below.

As always, we encourage you to contact us with your comments, and please let us know if you would prefer to receive these announcements at a different address or to be removed from the list.

Best regards,

Meg Evans, Director of Community Liaison
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
mmevans@woh.rr.com

Below is the statement by Ari Ne’eman:

By Ari Ne’eman, ASAN President.

Hello,

In the past, we’ve written to you about advocacy issues relating to the rights of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. Our voices have made a difference on all manner of policy concerns and have sent a clear message that those who seek to deprive Autistic people of any age of their rights will have our community to answer to. Now we’d like to ask you to help us take action to help protect an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price, currently being charged with felony assault after fighting back when two staff members restrained him in response to behavioral challenges. The school has ignored repeated efforts from Zakh’s grandmother over the course of the last five months to obtain needed IEP supports to improve his educational options and manage his behavioral difficulties.

According to the suspension notice, the restraint was in response to Zakh destroying school property – something beyond the scope of what would be allowed under recently introduced federal civil rights legislation around restraint and seclusion in schools. Disability advocates, including ASAN, are fighting to pass this crucial legislation that would broaden the protections available to students like Zakh as well as those with other disabilities and with no disability at all. We have asked for your help in passing this important legislation, and together we can succeed in bringing proposed civil rights protections into law – but not in time to help Zakh. That is why we need you to take action now. Find out how below:

School Principal:
Pam Siebenmorgan (One of the charging parties in Zakh’s felony hearing – polite but firm calls and e-mails encouraging her to drop the charges would be helpful)
Phone: 479-646-0834
E-mail: psiebenm@fortsmithschools.org

School Superintendent:
Dr. Benny Gooden (The Superintendent runs the entire school district – polite but firm calls and e-mails communicating how this situation is damaging Fort Smith Public Schools’ reputation would be helpful as well)
E-mail: bgooden@fortsmithschools.org
School Board Office: 1-479-785-2501 Ext. 1201

We recommend that you both e-mail and call if you can. If necessary, e-mail is the preferable option. If you would like your e-mails to be passed along to Zakh’s grandmother, please bcc: info@autisticadvocacy.org. Please stress the importance of Fort Smith Public Schools taking the following steps:

-Drop the charges against Zakhqurey Price

-Work with his grandmother to put in place an IEP that will fulfill Zakh’s right for a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment

-Improve training for school personnel to prevent future such incidents and to ensure that students on the autism spectrum as well as with other disabilities are included, supported and educated in Fort Smith Public Schools.

If Zakh is declared incompetent as part of the hearing scheduled for January 12th, state law requires that he be placed into a mental hospital for at least 30 days. His grandmother fears that, due to the negative repercussions of being taken out of the community and being forced into an institutional setting, Zakh may lose skills in such an environment and not be returned to her indefinitely. That is why we need you to act now. Please distribute and repost this action alert. Thank you for your time and your advocacy, and as always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

I usually avoid posting names and phone numbers like this. All to often blogs post such information in an attempt to intimidate. Take to heart Mr. Ne’eman’s call to be polite but firm when you call.

15 Responses to “Act now: Autistic Child Charged with Felony”

  1. Sullivan January 6, 2010 at 23:20 #

    My experience

    1) The principal was not available

    2) they suggested a different person at the district to handle the call than Dr. Gooden

    3) The contact person could not speak about the specifics of the situation, as expected. That doesn’t mean you can’t speak to them about it.

    I’d like to have more specific details about this situation.

  2. kwombles January 7, 2010 at 04:20 #

    It may be worth it to email the Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue, (email address: dshue@co.sebastian.ar.us) or call 479-783-8976 to register your concerns that these charges are unjust and unwarranted.

  3. Socrates January 9, 2010 at 00:10 #

    Please drop by the Z’s local newspaper on Facebook and ask them why they aren’t covering the story.

  4. Laurentius Rex January 10, 2010 at 01:30 #

    What gets me is that America is a land overflowing with guns and talk of freedom yet no-one ever threatens to shoot the bastards who commit crimes such as this.

    Where are the minutemen now?

  5. Sullivan January 10, 2010 at 03:16 #

    From:
    http://zakhs.blogspot.com/

    “Hi, Just wanted you to know that a Little Rock Atty has agreed to take on Zakh’s case. The fee will be $5000 for the defence fund. I need to find the money by Sunday. Zakh’s new hearing date is 13 April at 10:30am. Please keep the energy going. Carole”

  6. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. January 10, 2010 at 11:25 #

    “Where are the minutemen now?”

    Precisely.

    It’s all bloody up-side down there. And in a country where the Judge Rottenbastard Education Centre can exist, where children and adults are routinely abused in the name of ‘education’ (and nobody gets so much as a fucking caution for it!)… I am absolutely scundered that an 11 year old boy with an IQ of 68 is charged for doing what comes naturally to any human being: resisting someone else’s attempt to restrain him.

    I’d like to know if those fuck-witted people against who he committed this ‘offence’ would be prepared to just surrender to some pair of burly and intellectually-bereft no-necks who were doing the same thing to them?

    I’d bet on them fighting back.

    Excuse my language, but I’m not feeling very sympathetic towards the fuck-wits… and the system that’s blatantly supporting them. Come one, America… get a fucking grip!

  7. Bob King January 11, 2010 at 07:29 #

    Let’s keep the pressure up. They are already trying to make this whole mess go away – the initial story (and the astonishingly ugly public reactions) have been scrubbed from the local news – and there are hints that a local reporter has actually tried to discredit both Zakh and his Grandmother.

    Breadcrumbs…

  8. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. January 11, 2010 at 11:35 #

    “Come one, America… get a fucking grip!” -> “Come on, America… get a fucking grip!”

    bloody typos… i hate them

  9. Robin Hansen January 12, 2010 at 18:30 #

    I was the original reporter on theis story. I am glad to see there is so much support out there!
    I have a high funtioning autistic son myself.
    http://www.examiner.com/x-4959-Special-Education-Examiner~y2009m12d30-Autism-is-considered-a-felony-in-fifth-grade

  10. Adam Pollack January 13, 2010 at 20:52 #

    To the principal of Zaqh’s school, the prosecuting attorney(s) and anyone else who may be trying to convict this boy of a felony-offense (for resisting restraints on him) and who may be agreeing
    (or even insisting) he be incarcerated in a mental institution:

    Do you think that it would be fair and morally right (in 2010) to
    try to convict an 11-year-old child with an IQ of 68 of a serious
    crime and get him thrown into jail or a mental institution for
    stealing a piece of bread or a can of soda—as he was very hungry
    or thirsty and had an impulse to follow his survival instincts?
    Well that appalling scenario is pretty much the moral and tactical
    equivalent of what some folks in Zaqh’s school and the local legal
    community are now trying to bring about for this hapless boy. The
    kind of extreme punitive treatment that some of the people at his school are trying to exact on this boy would be appalling enough even if he were a few years older, had a much higher IQ and were otherwise mentally normal. But that’s not the case at all.
    In fact, none of those things apply to him. In addition, he is
    autistic and almost certainly has a mild mental retardation and a
    profound lack of basic social skills.

    GIVE THIS BOY A BREAK—and–LET THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME!!!The treatment he is receiving (or about to receive, apparently) is total overkill. It is way too severe, disproportionate and EXTREMELY INHUMANE! In the name of common decency and enlightened human civility, those awful charges or allegations of ‘Felony Offense’ should be dropped—and replaced
    with a much more sensible program of gentle (but very firm) coach-
    ing, skill-development and/or behavior-modification. In particular
    —because he is autistic, Zaqh’s family or someone in the local school system should try their best to find a specially-trained
    person(s) to work closely with him—someone who will be firm, but
    kind, encouraging and truly perceptive as to his behaviors and needs. This treatment ‘regime’ can become part of his IEP—or not. And the person(s) who work closely with him might come from
    within the existing local school system—or not. Whatever
    more sensible arrangements of this kind might be that can be put into place for him—this should be done just as soon as possible.

  11. Carole Reynolds January 24, 2010 at 03:16 #

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=app_2373072738&gid=228604481972#/topic.php?uid=228604481972&topic=14856

    NEW GAME PLAN! HELP SAVE AUTISTIC BOY! Go to his discussions page under ‘NEW PLAN’. Prosecutor won’t back down.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Act now: Autistic Child Charged with Felony « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - January 7, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, autism_hub. autism_hub said: New post: Act now: Autistic Child Charged with Felony http://bit.ly/8EfLPc […]

  2. Eleven-year-old felons? Let’s get a grip. Part 1 « Urocyon's Meanderings - January 7, 2010

    […] mouth. and I’ve been working hard on learning better/some emotional regulation. The boy needs all the help he can get, […]

  3. Eleven-year-old felons? Let’s get a grip. Part 2: Abuse « Urocyon's Meanderings - January 7, 2010

    […] I tried to point out the absurdity of Zakhqurey Price’s situation, and asked for people to try to help him. If you haven’t heard about this case, Zakh–an 11-year-old autistic boy–is facing […]

  4. uberVU - social comments - January 12, 2010

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by kevleitch: Act now: Autistic Child Charged with Felony: Below is an email I received from Meg Evans of the Autistic Self .. http://bit.ly/61fkgN

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