Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Court Upholds N.Y. Bar on 'Aversive Interventions' for Students

KSN&C Backstory: B F Skinner: The Next Generation

This from The School Law Blog:
A federal appeals court has upheld a New York state prohibition on the use of "aversive interventions" such as electric shock, food limitations, and restraints in schools, including for children with disabilities being served in out-of-state schools that have permitted such practices.
The New York regulation was challenged by parents who believe such interventions are proper for their children, who commit self-injurious behaviors such as banging their heads on walls and pulling out their own teeth. The parents send their children to the Judge Rotenberg Center, a Canton, Mass., facility that until recently used shock therapy and continues to use other aversive methods. (Many New York state students are served at the residential facility.)

The parents contend that the New York state education regulation undermines their children's right to a free, appropriate public education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The parents also raise claims under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (I blogged about an earlier ruling in the case here.)

In its Aug. 20 decision in Bryant v. New York State Education Department, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, ruled 2-1 that the state's prohibition of one possible method of dealing with behavioral disorders, such as aversive interventions, does not undermine a child's right to a free, appropriate public education under the federal special education law.

As a preliminary matter, the appeals court noted that Massachusetts recently adopted a regulation that bars some of the interventions used at the Judge Rotenberg Center, including spanking, hitting, and skin shock. The Massachusetts rule allows certain others, such as loud noises, bad odor and taste stimuli, and short delays for students' meals.

The 2nd Circuit court said the change did not make the parents' challenge to the New York regulation moot, because New York's prohibition on aversive interventions is broad and a successful challenge could permit families to seek certain therapies elsewhere.

However, the court rejected the parents' arguments that the New York regulation prevented them from getting a truly individualized education plan under the IDEA that was most appropriate for their children...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How could you not have a problem with your child being shocked. More importantly how can we expect a school of all places to deal with kids who are so extremely distrubed that not only do they attempt to do harm to themselves but we would accept our staff to ironically harm them as some sort of weird operant conditioning intervention?

I fear that the parents who support this type of school intervention not only support it at their own homes but at the very least use it as a threat in their own houses.

I simply don't understand how behaviors which instituted by a parent in their own home toward their child would be considered abuse and neglect by any judge can some how be legally done by third parties via permision from parents who legally don't have the right to do the same abusive things to their own child.