California School Fiscal Services
|Posted on January 11, 2016 at 1:30 PM|
By now, I expect that most of you have seen the video associated with this story of a paraprofessional assaulting a young special education student while other adults hold him down. It's disturbing to say the least.
Here's my take-away and hope that maybe some good can come out of this.
As the CBO, you are likely pretty removed from the day to day activities going on in special education. However, I know for sure that you see that non-public school bill that comes into your office and it probably demands your attention because it is so high. There is no question that special education non-public school placements are costly.
When was the last time someone from your district reviewed the various non-public school options in your district? Does someone from your special education department routinely go out to these sites and visit? Do they make unannounced visits on a regular basis? If you don't know the answers to these questions, then I encourage you to sit down with your Director of Special Education and find out. You may even consider getting out of the office and go for visit with your Director. Take a good look at where you money is going and if you are happy with what you see. A placement for services outside of your district should not equate to a "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy.
Non-public schools serve a purpose but in my experience, there are a lot of bad apples out there. Be sure your district isn't sending students to one of them.
By Matthias Gafni [email protected]
ANTIOCH -- Police arrested a 26-year-old teacher's aide Wednesday on suspicion of felony child abuse after learning of a disturbing video taken inside a school for special-needs students that shows the employee slapping and assaulting a young boy as co-workers laugh and film the incident.
Police arrested Kamaljot Kaur at her Antioch home after interviewing Tobinworld 2 staff members, student witnesses and the victim, a 9-year-old Oakland boy. The boy did not have any visible injuries or complaints of pain, Antioch police said.
Investigators were called to the school Wednesday morning by school administrators, who reported that a teacher's aide had assaulted a student the day before and that video of the assault had been circulating on the Internet.
"After conducting interviews and reviewing the cellphone recording of the incident, officers determined that a felony child abuse had occurred," Antioch police Cpl. Powell Meads said.
A 23-year-old Antioch woman, a friend of the Tobinworld 2 employee who took the video, said the employee posted the clips Tuesday on Snapchat, and she found them so disturbing she captured the images and alerted Tobinworld's principal and police.
"This is the third time (since Monday) this kind of thing has been recorded by him. It was so unbearable to watch I had to do something about it," said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.
Interim Antioch Superintendent Stephanie Anello said the district confirmed that Tobinworld 2 -- which, along with Tobinworld 3, is a private school in Antioch that serves special-needs children in the community -- notified police, and a criminal investigation is underway. She also said the boy "at the center of the video" is not an Antioch Unified student.
Tobinworld founder Judy Weber said the school first learned of the incident around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday after receiving an anonymous phone call alerting them to the video posted online. She said two teacher's aides have been suspended.
"We immediately suspended the staff involved, called Children and Family Services and notified the Antioch police," Weber said in a statement. "The student in the video returned to school (Wednesday), uninjured, and has been in class all day. We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the incident. Tobinworld takes this event extremely seriously and will take all necessary actions once we have the full facts in this matter."
Both of Tobinworld's Antioch campuses contract with school districts throughout the East Bay to serve special-needs students, including Antioch Unified.
"Upon learning of this incident, Antioch Unified School District sent our staff members to Tobinworld 2 to provide support to our students and parents," Anello said in a statement, adding that the district learned of the video Wednesday morning.
"We have also contacted the Contra Costa County Special Education Local Plan Area and asked that they look into the matter. We take all instances of student safety seriously and will ensure that appropriate and decisive steps are taken as determined by the outcome of the investigation."
The video shows a woman wearing what appears to be a blue Tobinworld employee T-shirt striking a young boy multiple times, tackling him to the ground and throwing items at him, while men, identified by the Antioch woman as teacher's aides, hold the boy, laugh and film the incidents.
Peter Alfert, a Walnut Creek attorney who specializes in special education abuse cases and whose firm is investigating the school on behalf of concerned parents, said he did not have any independent authentication of the video, but said he was "appalled."
"What is on the video is incredibly disturbing. To think that could be a classroom in the state of California is beyond belief," Alfert said. "What is shown in the video is an out-of-control situation with some students physically abused and others subjected to it.
"This needs to be turned over to the DA," he said. "This is no school situation I've seen before."
Tobinworld has come under fire recently, facing an abuse lawsuit and a state investigation that led to the suspension of its certification, which has since been reinstated. The state probe linked the school to Matthew Israel, a controversial special education figure linked to shock therapy treatments. Israel is married to Weber, Tobinworld's founder.
For the woman who captured the videos and turned them over to authorities, she's glad it is being taken seriously.
"I had to shut that down. That was not cool," she said. "I'm praying something good comes out of this."
Antioch police are still looking for witnesses to the assault and are asking them to call investigators at 925-778-2441.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.