I taught students with Autism and disabilities for 30 years. I could not read this story without anger and tears.

As The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga reported, the complaint cited state statistics that black students with disabilities were nearly 13 times as likely as non-disabled white students to be punished with short-term suspensions in the 2014-2015 school year.

The complaint, filed in August by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the ACLU of Virginia, also alleged that although students with disabilities made up 17.7 percent of the student population, they accounted for 29.8 percent of students who were suspended short-term and 37.4 percent of students who were suspended long-term.

Washington Post, by Lindsey Bever:

John Benjamin Haygood was slouched in a chair with his hand over his eyes, a video shows.

A school resource officer at Okeechobee Achievement Academy in Florida stood over the 10-year-old boy as his mother asked: “Does he have the same rights as an adult?” Then, the officer reached for the young boy’s wrists.

“I don’t want to be touched,” John Benjamin said, throwing his hands in the air. “I don’t like to be touched.”

Luanne Haygood filmed her son being arrested by Okeechobee County deputies at his school on April 12, after she said said they were called in for testing. (Luanne Haygood)

His mother, Luanne Haygood, who was filming the emotional scene, said she and her son had been called into the school for state standardizing testing April 12; while they were there, she said, officers arrested her son for an incident that occurred in October.

He spent the night behind bars at a juvenile facility, Haygood said.

Haygood said John Benjamin, who has been diagnosed with autism, had kicked and scratched his paraprofessional educator (also known as an educational assistant) and, unknown to his own family, had an outstanding warrant for battery on a school board employee, a third-degree felony.

“I didn’t know I was going to get arrested like this,” the boy added, as the officers secured his wrists. “I don’t want to be touched. Please don’t touch me.”

As the officers escorted the boy to the police vehicle, his mother asked them whether she could ride with her son to the jail; one of the officers told her no.

“I don’t know what’s going on, Mama!” he screamed. “I don’t understand.”

“I know, honey,” his mother told him. “He has autism — he doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s scared to death, he’s 10 years old!”

Haygood, from Okeechobee, Fla., said her son, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, has had an individualized education plan (IEP) since he started school and was assigned a paraprofessional educator last year. But, Haygood said, he had been having issues with his aide, claiming he was hurting him, and the school would not assign a new one.

On Oct. 27, the educator reported, John Benjamin was being disruptive in class, “throwing paper balls around the classroom and hitting other students,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

“When John Benjamin was asked to go to timeout he refused,” according to the court records. The educator “attempted to remove the student and sent him back to the timeout place. At this point, John Benjamin started kicking and scratching and punching” him.

The educator “had to restrain the student, he advised he came around the student and wrapped his arms around the upper chest as to not restrict child’s breathing,” according to the documents.

It was that October incident that led to her son’s arrest, Haygood said.

It was not known why the boy’s family was not informed of his outstanding warrant.

Scott Badesch, president of the Autism Society of America, said the organization has been in contact with Haygood to help provide support services and legal counsel.

“It appears the school’s responses are beyond wrong and evil,” he said. “It is a tremendous failure by two allegedly responsible institutions — the police and the school.”

Badesch said the Autism Society is examining the case to determine whether it should ask the Justice Department and the Education Department to investigate any wrongdoing.

Similar cases have been seen in other states. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating one in Virginia, following a complaint that Richmond public schools unfairly punish black students and students with disabilities more harshly than others.

As The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga reported, the complaint cited state statistics that black students with disabilities were nearly 13 times as likely as non-disabled white students to be punished with short-term suspensions in the 2014-2015 school year.

The complaint, filed in August by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the ACLU of Virginia, also alleged that although students with disabilities made up 17.7 percent of the student population, they accounted for 29.8 percent of students who were suspended short-term and 37.4 percent of students who were suspended long-term.

When asked about John Benjamin’s case, Okeechobee County schools spokeswoman Renee Geeting said the district cannot disclose specific information about incidents involving students. But, she noted, the district would not “invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.”

“The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists,” she added in a statement. “As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.”

Prosecutor Ashley Albright said he is meeting, Wednesday afternoon, with the paraprofessional who pressed charges. Albright said the State Attorney’s Office will take the boy’s special needs into consideration when determining how to proceed with the case and added that juveniles are treated differently by the justice system anyway.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish by going public with the arrest video, Haygood said she just wants her son “to have the same education every other child is entitled to and receives.”

John Benjamin is due in court for his arraignment May 11.

 

Criminal justice.

Neli-Latson

Reginald Latson is in solitary confinement for the crime of being being Black with autism.

If Reginald Latson was a white kid and did not have autism, would he be sitting in solitary confinement in a Virginia prison facing years behind bars?

Four years ago Reginald, known as Neli, went to the library.

It wasn’t open yet. So Neli, a Black 23-year old sat on the lawn in a white neighborhood of Stafford, Virginia doing nothing more than waiting for the library to open.

He was wearing a hoodie.

You know. A Black 23-year-old in a hoodie.

The white neighbors called to complain. Some reported seeing a gun.

Neli had no gun.

When the police arrived, Neli tried to leave, but was grabbed by a police officer.

Neli became frustrated and fought back.

As a teacher for 30 years of students on the autism spectrum I can tell you this is far from unusual.

I can’t even tell you the number of times I was punched and kicked by a child with autism because of their feelings of frustration over which they had no control. 

But Neli is Black and on the autism spectrum and he was facing a police officer, not a teacher experienced with autistic behavior.

It was not criminal behavior. It was autism.

Neli was arrested and put on trial for attacking the police officer. The prosecution demanded a ten-year sentence.

The judge disagreed and placed Neli in a residential facility for a few months over time served.

The staff of the group home were not familiar with Neli’s autism and when he became agitated during a visit with his mom, they called the police.

Jailed again, he was denied his medication. This caused Neli to become suicidal and aggressive.

The prosecutor who had originally demanded the ten-year sentence and was denied it by the judge, saw his opportunity and charged Neli with a felony.

And then Neli was placed in solitary confinement.

Where he remains.

To be clear. This all started with Reginald Latson sitting quietly in front of a library waiting for it to open. He was doing nothing illegal.

He was doing nothing wrong.

But he was Black and had autism.

The Governor of Virginia is Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

He could end this horror story now and release Reginald Latson.

“I made a mistake.”

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson tries to join protesters. Another riot nearly ensues.

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The other day Rahm said he made a mistake.

He’s made many. But he only copped to one: Naming the planned north side selective admission high school after Barack Obama.

“In my rush to honor our favorite son, I made a mistake. I heard the community. And it’s not gonna be named after the president. My goal is to have a library named after him here in the city of Chicago,” said Rahm.

This was strange because I’m not aware of any community that objected to naming a high school after President Barack Obama. I am not sure what community he was listening too about this.

Although I have an idea which community he mostly listens to. It is a small and very rich community.

The objections were never about naming rights. It was always about equity, racism and resources.  Just ask the parents of Dyett High School students, current and former, about equity, racism and resources.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a community on the south or west side.

The community objections I heard were to building another selective admission high school a few blocks from the current one, Walter Payton, on the near north side.

At the rate Rahm is going there will be more selective admission high schools on the north side than there are Starbucks and Whole Foods stores.

As for having a library named for Obama, you can be pretty sure that it won’t be one of the over 200 Chicago public schools that don’t have libraries.

According to the CTU’s analysis of a September 5 CPS memo, close to 190 elementary CPS schools are without a library, up from 135 in 2011. Currently, 56 percent of CPS high schools, or 50 in total, do not have a library, which is double the figure in 2011.

And then the was this mistake.

The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri went on TV to apologize to Mike Brown’s parents.

Like Rahm, he also said he had made a mistake.

It wasn’t really an apology. It was more like one of those if I offended anybody apologies.

He apologized for leaving Mike Brown’s body on the street, uncovered, for four hours the day Mike Brown was murdered.

Then Jackson undid the apology and said that the police were just doing their job.

Following this sad excuse for an apology  the Ferguson police chief made another mistake. He joined a march of Ferguson protestors upset about the fire that was set at a street memorial to Mike Brown.

“I don’t think he was marching with the protesters more than 30 seconds before the riot cops came out into the crowd and tried to get themselves closer to him and protect him,” said French, a St. Louis elected official who has been following demonstrations since the Aug. 9 shooting and who supports calls for Jackson’s resignation. “Just them being out there pushing started stuff — it’s a complete misread of the situation. His very presence agitated the crowd.”

Was leaving the body of Mike Brown in the hot sun uncovered for four hours a mistake?

How do you make that kind of mistake?

Was his shooting a mistake?

From the number of videos showing police shootings and brutality directed at people of color that appear almost daily on the internet and television it seems more like an epidemic than a mistake.

The only thing new about this is that smart phones now come with a video recorder.

Neil Steinberg compares opposition to Israeli policies and campus rape.

“Jeez. Condemning Israel is a classic American college phenomenon, like binge drinking and date rape,” writes the Sun-Times Neil Steinberg.

This is so wrong on so many levels.

But so typical of what passes for Chicago’s current mainstream journalism.

Steinberg is commenting on the University of Illinois trustees’ 8 to 1 vote to support the decision of Chancellor Phyllis Wise. Chancellor Wise  caused a storm when she decided to reverse the university’s offer of a teaching position to Stephen Salaita.

Salaita had committed the crime of posting Tweets criticizing Israel’s actions in Gaza. That made him unfit to teach at U of I.

The only vote in Salaita’s favor came from Trustee James Montgomery. He raised questions about freedom-of-speech issues, and whether the trustees’ rejected of an appointment approved by faculty violated the university’s adherence to principles of shared governance.

“There may be some serious concerns on the part of faculty on the issue of shared governance,” he said, just before the vote was conducted. “Shared governance, obviously, means that when we make decisions that affect the university that we need to have some consultation with the faculty.”

Steinberg’s column is just straight up offensive.  Salaita is unqualified to teach at the University of Illinois because he Tweets criticisms of Israel?

What other political views are on Steinberg’s check list?

In fact, I wonder what other stupid views are already held by University of Illinois professors? I was a student at their Chicago campus and I can tell you that there are a bunch of stupid views floating around there.

But that’s what universities are for.

Opposition to Israeli policies towards Palestinians is not exactly outside mainstream thinking. Many in Israel disagree with with their country’s actions.  Most of us outside Israel oppose Israel’s actions

I oppose it.

It is Steinberg – a convicted wife-beater and admitted alcoholic – comparing opposition to Israeli policies with “classic campus activities like binge drinking and date rape,” who is profoundly offensive.

Date rape and views on Israel.

It’s all the same.

Date rape. A “classic campus activity.”

And this guy has a column with the Sun-Times and appears regularly on Chicago public radio with Eric Zorn.

Why am I not surprised?

Illinois State Representative Keith Farnham is a child pornographer and molester.

farnham

“Keith Farnham? Didn’t he vote for pension theft?” I was asked yesterday.

“Apparently that may be the best thing he did,” I responded.

From the Chicago Tribune.

When he resigned his seat on March 19, Farnham told the Tribune he was stepping down due to serious health concerns. A Navy veteran who ran a painting business in Elgin before running for office in 2009, Farnham said he is receiving treatment for bladder cancer and also struggles with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes lung tissue to scar.

Farnham did not return calls for comment Monday. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Former colleagues, meanwhile, reacted with shock Monday.

“Those of us who know him I don’t think would have suspected this,” said state Sen. Mike Noland, the Elgin Democrat whose district included Farnham’s former district.

Democratic Rep. Mary Flowers, a longtime advocate for children, called the charges “very serious.” But she said she wanted to withhold judgment, saying, “I don’t want to cast him off as being guilty until he’s been found guilty.”

According to the charges, the investigation began when homeland security agents received a tip from its Cyber Crimes Center that email address kimdavid5582@yahoo.com was being used to trade child pornography on the Internet.

A search of Yahoo! logs showed a series of graphic instant messenger conversations between last June and January in which kimdavid5582 allegedly chatted with three other users about sexual preferences and exploits, according to the charges. Authorities later traced the Internet usage to the Comcast account at Farnham’s home, according to the charges.

In one online conversation in November with a person identified only as “User A,” Farnham allegedly described in detail a sexual encounter with a 6-year-old girl.

In another chat a few weeks later, Farnham allegedly told User A, “i wish i had access to all the vids and pics ever made.”

Former Elgin mayor Ed Schock, who worked closely with Farnham on legislative issues, said Monday the charges were “almost beyond comprehension.”

“It’s hard to really get my head around,” Schock said.

Justice may be blind but we can see.

Since Michigan banned affirmative action in 2006, the minority population at its colleges and universities has dropped from 12 percent to 9.5 percent. The proportion of Black freshmen has gone from 7 to 5 percent even though the Black college-aged population in Michigan went from 16 to 19 percent.

When it comes to the U.S. Supreme Court, justice isn’t blind.

It has a racial bias.

The result of the Court’s 6-2 ruling is that states can decide to consider and favor any class of people for college admission – but state’s have the right to exclude people of color from consideration because they are people of color.

This is the old argument that state’s rights can be used to block civil rights.

Taken alongside last year’s ruling on voting rights, the right-wing majority on the Court continues to push back on the victories we thought we were winning 50 years ago.

Justice Sotomayor from her dissent:

Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process…Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

Has Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein lost his mind?

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If Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein gets his way, the University of Illinois and other Illinois public universities could lose all their state funding if a professor attended a national conference of the American Studies Association.

The ASA is the oldest and largest academic organization in the United States. It has more than 5,000 members.

What did they do that so offended Senator Siverstein?

In protest of the policies of Israel, the ASA voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

Senator Silverstein believes that if you are a professor who disagrees with Israel and acts on that disagreement in a professional and organized way than the university that pays for you to attend academic conferences should be punished.

Silverstein has a problem.

He has a problem with the U.S. Constitution and the first amendment, the one that guarantees Americans the right to criticize anybody they want.

Whether it’s Israel or me.

The Center for Constitutional rights says of Senator Silverstein’s SB3017:

“The Illinois anti-boycott bill is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” said Maria LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. “By singling out for punishment advocacy for boycotts aimed at changing Israeli policy, the bill’s sponsor attempts to dictate what kind of political speech is acceptable on college campuses, where free inquiry and debate should be able to thrive without government interference.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?:

1) Contact your State Senators that are members of the Higher Education Committee.

See a list of Committee members’ contact information and Talking Points below.

2)  If your State Senator is not in the Higher Education Committee, contact, in this order:

·         FIRST:  State Senate President, John Cullerton (D). CALL (217) 782-2728.

·         SECOND: Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Senator Michael W. Frerichs (D).CALL (217) 782-2507.

 

The in box. Con artists and deceptive business practices.

MET-AJ-PENSION-BILL-SIGNED-1206

Con artists and deceptive business practices.

Fred:  This email seems to have come too late.  I tried to the best of ability to protect myself from con artists and deceptive business practices, but alas, our legislators courtesy of the Civic Committee and its illustrious membership got to me first!  – Victor

December 13, 2013
Dear Friends,Please join Congresswomen Tammy Duckworth and me for a financial consumer protection workshop on Monday, December 16 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Itasca Village Hall (550 Irving Park Rd., Itasca).The workshop will provide information on the latest methods of protecting yourself from con artists and deceptive business practices as well as provide tips on how to be a responsible consumer.

You will have the opportunity to meet and hear from experts from various federal and state agencies. Please look at the flyer below for more information (or click here).

I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity and be part of our conversation. If you are unable to attend Monday’s meeting but have any questions or concerns, please contact my office or send me an email.

Sincerely,

Senator Tom Cullerton
23rd District – Illinois

#Pension theft. Taking names. Michelle Mussman.

https://vimeo.com/80892866

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Smart money says that if SB1 is going to be stopped today it will be stopped in the Illinois Senate.

Senate President John Cullerton is on board and is said to be working the bill, but the Senate has a more independent streak.

Democratic Speaker MIchael Madigan heads a group of craven sycophants. Democrats run as progressives. They take money from our unions (which are often too easy a mark). And once they get down to Springfield they become something out of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Witness Robyn Gabel.

Or Michelle Mussman from Schaumburg. She is married to a teacher who was a local union president. She ran for Representative with the backing of the teacher’s union.

Yesterday afternoon as we gathered outside her district office next to a Subway sandwich shop in a strip mall the temperature dropped and the hundred or so union members that had gathered  were cold.

And hot.

Angry at being betrayed.

Teachers addressed her as “Michelle.” They knew her. They expected something different from her.

But she insulted us, not only by her plan to vote for #pension theft. She kept people waiting in the cold for half an hour past our appointment.

When she made her appearance it was a weird cross between repeating talking points about actuarial numbers and blaming pensions for cutting social programs. Kids go hungry in Illinois because of teachers.

What a terrible thing to say to a group of teachers.

But mostly she was a bobble head. Her head bobbing up and down as her constituents told their stories, made their arguments, pleaded.

It was all she could do to keep from looking at her watch.

Her inability to master all the talking points was not entirely her fault. The 325 page bill had only been released to House members a few hours before, so it was plainly difficult to master a case for a bill she could not possibly have read.

But not only didn’t she read the bill. She wasn’t going to.

She didn’t have to.

I asked her what the consideration was for cutting COLAs to current retirees.

She responded, “That’s a problem.”

Consideration is a legal contractual term. If the state takes away a contractual benefit it must be replaced by something of equal or greater value.

Actives get very little. Next to nothing. Retirees get nothing.

Michelle Mussman knows that.

She doesn’t have to read the bill because she knows it will be found unconstitutional.

She said as much. “We will let the courts decide.”

In the mean time she will cause much pain and fear.

Kicking the teachers down the road.

We are taking names.

Michelle Mussman.