San Jose Mercury News: Three East Bay parents of autistic kindergarten children file federal civil rights lawsuit claiming teacher abuse

5 Apr

Following on the discussion of Texas allowing video monitoring of special education classrooms, a story from the California San Francisco Bay Area points out why such monitors are needed: Three East Bay parents of autistic kindergarten children file federal civil rights lawsuit claiming teacher abuse. The story begins:

With the filing of a federal lawsuit Wednesday, a horrific child abuse scandal burst into public view in the Antioch school district, involving three autistic students who allegedly were slapped, pinched and verbally abused by a teacher — and school officials who failed to report the accusations to police as the law requires.

The incidents, which bear a sad similarity to others that have come to light around the Bay Area in recent months, have already forced the accused teacher’s resignation and compelled a criminal investigation into the abuse claims. And now the district’s leadership stands accused by the students’ parents of creating a hostile environment that violated the autistic children’s civil rights.

Documents show the Antioch district’s own investigation of the concerns about teacher Theresa Allen-Caulboy ramped up only after this newspaper first reported on a similar abuse situation in Brentwood, where a convicted child abuser was allowed to continue teaching special needs students. A classroom aide to Allen-Caulboy cited the newspaper report as her impetus for reporting the abuse allegations.

More at the Mercury News.

By Matt Carey

3 Responses to “San Jose Mercury News: Three East Bay parents of autistic kindergarten children file federal civil rights lawsuit claiming teacher abuse”

  1. lilady April 5, 2013 at 07:37 #

    Wow, that is disgusting. IMO, what is worse than the teacher’s abuse of these youngsters, is the fact that many employees of the district had knowledge of the teacher’s abusive behaviors…and the concerted efforts to cover up the abuse, by district staff.

  2. linda April 7, 2013 at 19:59 #

    This is outrageous and the same type of systemic issue we see throughout.
    CA. We have filed litigation against the CDE-CA Department of Education.
    for not ensuring that individual districts follow special education law. We have
    met with many parents in CA and find this devastatingly more common than one.
    would like to believe.

    We are currently, gathering stories of non-compliance, abuse, intimidation and.
    failure to provide appropriate programs for children with special needs.
    We believe that CDE is ultimately responsible for ensuring that districts follow legal.
    parameters. If you would like to share a story.
    Please contact me. There is no cost associated, we simply want to prove these types of.
    issues are systemic in CA.

    Linda McNulty Paralegal. 408 569 6530.

  3. linda April 7, 2013 at 20:08 #

    Litigation against CDE and update: CDE’s Motion to Dismis DENIED,

    The Judge found in favor of CCPA on ALL seven causes of action
    …..The court concludes that plaintiffs have pled their claim and requested relief sufficiently to satisfy the standard set forth in case law…….

    Press Release


    A federal district judge in Sacramento has denied a motion by the California Department
    of Education (CDE) to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two parent associations on behalf of
    children with disabilities. (Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Ass’n v. Calif. Dep’t of Educ.
    (U.S. Dist. Ct., Eastern Dist., Calif. No. 2:11-cv-3471-KJM-AC)). The parents have
    charged the department with systematically failing to assure that their children receive a
    free appropriate public education as required by federal and state law. The Court’s ruling
    of March 29 means the plaintiffs’ case may move forward.

    Plaintiffs’ lead counsel Rony Sagy, of San Francisco’s Sagy Law Associates called the
    ruling “an important breakthrough for California children with special needs.” The
    complaint, filed in 2012 by Sagy Law Associates and co-counsel Stephen Rosenbaum of
    Berkeley, details the experiences of numerous children who have suffered as a result of
    CDE’s systematic failure to adequately monitor, investigate and enforce laws at the
    school district level.

    The complaint alleges, for example, that children with behavior problems have been
    improperly tied to their chairs and excluded from all educational opportunities. In
    another instance, plaintiffs claim that a 14-year-old who was bullied and had attempted
    suicide, was determined to have no social or emotional needs. The non-English-speaking
    parents of a child with an autism diagnosis and ADHD were told the district had lost his
    records and demanded the parents agree to an educational program with dramatically
    reduced services.

    Other systemic allegations include unreasonable delays in student assessments, sidelining
    parents in the educational planning process, failure to implement behavior and other
    educational plans, and failure to offer services to students transitioning from high school
    to adult living, filing for unnecessary due process hearings against parents asking for an
    independent educational evaluation of their child. The plaintiffs also claim that CDE’s
    own statistics show that California school districts are consistently performing below the
    minimal federal requirements, and the targets set by the department itself, in areas such as
    proficiency rates in English and math.

    CDE had argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiffs’ lawsuit
    because the federal Department of Education had exclusive authority to enforce the
    State’s monitoring and enforcement obligations. The Court disagreed, finding that the
    Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act explicitly charges the states
    with frontline responsibility to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public
    education. The department also maintained that there was no private right of action to
    sue under federal law. The Court again disagreed. The Court also rejected CDE’s
    argument that the plaintiffs were barred from pursuing their special education claims
    because they had not exhausted their administrative remedies, such as a due process
    hearing or a compliance complaint filed with the department.

    Plaintiffs’ attorney Sagy highlighted the need for a prompt resolution: “The stakes for
    these young people and their parents could not be higher. Taxpayers’ money is
    increasingly spent on legal fees to fight parents, rather than to provide their children with
    the necessary educational services.” According to the complaint, one school district spent
    $80,000 in an unsuccessful effort to avoid reimbursing parents the $4,500 cost of a
    statutorily provided independent educational evaluation. Sagy said plaintiffs hope to
    minimize the cost of litigation by engaging CDE in a mediated process designed to
    address the endemic problems alleged in the complaint. The department had rebuffed
    earlier efforts to mediate.

    CDE is represented by Paul Lacy and Kate Legrand of the department’s Legal Division.
    # # #

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