BOSTON, February 1, 2018 – The Disability Law Center (DLC) issues a Report today announcing the results of its abuse and neglect investigation at the Crowell Kindergarten Center (Crowell) in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Crowell is a public school within the Haverhill Public Schools, serving 150 kindergarteners with and without disabilities.
During the winter of 2017, DLC received complaints regarding the treatment of students with disabilities at Crowell. As part of its investigation, DLC interviewed 20 parents and reviewed records for seven students with disabilities. DLC also reviewed school records, conducted a site visit and interviewed Crowell’s principal and two staff members.
DLC’s investigation found Crowell engaged in abuse by violating multiple state and federal laws regarding the use of restraint, time-out and disciplinary exclusions. DLC also found Crowell neglected students with disabilities by failing to develop or implement legally mandated policies, trainings and social/emotional/behavioral services for students with disabilities. For example:
- Crowell repeatedly overused restraints on at least one five-year old student with disabilities. These restraints were not reviewed and no formal behavioral interventions were attempted in an effort to curb the frequent restraints.
- Crowell failed to properly report other student restraints.
- Crowell forcibly contained students for crying and acting up in cubby closets with gym mats for purposes of punishment and detainment, instead of calming.
- Crowell frequently misused exclusionary time-out as punishment, removing students from class for extended portions of the school day, even after students had calmed down.
- Crowell used informal illegal exclusions instead of comprehensive behavior management tools.
- Crowell did not provide inclusion students with any direct special education services, in violation of many students’ IEPs.
“The pattern and practice of forcibly containing and restraining very small children with disabilities repeatedly for common kindergarten misbehavior is extremely troubling.” says Christine Griffin, DLC’s Executive Director. “This treatment not only hurts these young students in the short-term, but causes long-term trauma for them and possibly all the children in these classrooms.”
DLC seeks a remedial plan from Crowell with 45 days to address improved policies, procedures, trainings, as well as increased access to adequately trained staff and social/emotional support services.
DLC, as the designated Protection and Advocacy System for Massachusetts, is authorized under federal law to investigate incidents of abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities. The investigation was conducted and the report was written by Colleen Shea, Attorney/Skadden Fellow and Stanley J. Eichner, Litigation Director.
Contact: Stanley J. Eichner, Litigation Director