John Archer School parent Janice Wright delivered the following prepared remarks during the public comment period at the March 12 meeting of the Harford County Board of Education.
A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Good evening. My name is Janice Wright and I am the person who emailed each of you requesting a meeting with myself and some concerned parents in regards to John Archer School. Unfortunately, I did not receive any responses to our requests thus forcing us to bring our concerns to you in a public setting. I understand that we are unable to discuss individuals; however, I want to bring before you examples of some of the serious issues concerning the safety of children and the continuing disregard for MSDE’s policy, MD state laws and Federal Statutes.
The first issues are in regards to the safety of our most vulnerable citizens. Children, who cannot defend themselves or speak out for themselves. Staff have physically assaulted and harmed the children they serve. Several years ago, a child was placed into a time out chair for a period of three hours. A child was drug out of school face down by his legs by the principal. Before you can say anything let me tell you that we have a man here with us that witnessed and will corroborate what the teacher said in the letter. Your staff at this school used mechanical restraints on a child THEY placed in a prone position thus endangering his life; this is per a police report. These types of physical assaults on children are not only illegal but also meet the state’s definition of physical abuse. Yet your staff continues to use these types’ assaults. Probably because they know they will not be held accountable by our State’s Attorney’s Office since they will not prosecute a governmental entity. This is deplorable behavior by both the school board that continues to allow staff to do this and not immediately terminate the employees involved, and the State’s Attorney Office that allows a school board to continue to get away with Child Abuse.
My second issue is with the total disregard for Maryland State Dept. of Ed’s policies. Allow me to read to you from the Discipline of Students with Disabilities. It is a guide for Administrators, Educators, Parents, and Community Members.
It states on page 4:
“It is important that existing school structures and processes include universal interventions where positive reinforcement is DOMINANT and all students are provided explicit instruction regarding behavioral standards so students and staff understand limits and expectations…Universal interventions are those strategies or supports that are:
Applied to ALL students
Based on clear and predictable limits and expectations
Positive-reinforcement dominant and
Linked to the school’s organizational goals
Before we can directly address specific skill or performance deficits, students first need an increased opportunity for:
Individual control and choice
Positive attention and
Adult and peer status”
However, John Archer School continues to use negative consequences for their student’s behaviors. Some examples are: taping gloves on a child’s hands to stop pinching, removing a child from class and setting them in the hallway. These are NOT positive approaches to deal with behaviors. Calling parents to come pick up their child when the child is having behaviors is illegal and yet these have happened recently.
How many times will this school continue to violate MD laws as well as Federal Statutes not to mention violating Civil Rights of these families before you do anything. The parents want you to address their legitimate concerns without the usual pat answers as a group, not individually.
Finally, the work environment at this school continues to decline. Even before your staff abused my son, teachers would complain about the administration at this school. The tyranny that is prevalent needs to end. Our children’s teachers, aides, and staff need to feel they can SAFELY question any situation without retribution. When the staff sees abuse occurring they need to be able to reach out to someone and not stand there and do NOTHING! When we as a society stand by and allow children to be abused and not interfere, what have we become?