Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our five kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Friday, January 11, 2008

My child is a criminal

Yes, according the Dakota County Attorney's office, my 11 year old child who is cognitively disabled and has an extensive history of impulsive and aggressive behavior, is a criminal.

Because a staff person at school invaded her personal space (against the specialized training she would have received before working with Angela) that means that Angela assaulted the staff person FIRST, and so that staff person who then in turned slapped Angela across the face will NOT be prosecuted because in Minnesota, an adult can act in "self defense" and strike back against the child. The county could, in fact, turn around and prosecute my child instead. (you better believe all kinds of not so great words came out of my mouth when I was told this.) Oh, and the county attorney's comment was "It wasn't very hard because it didn't leave a mark." HOWEVER...it WAS HEARD on the OTHER SIDE OF THE CLASSROOM!!! So please, do me a favor....strike your own face loud enough to be heard on the other side of a class room and tell me how hard it was. Would you consider it "with force"????

So, should my child do this again, she can be slapped or hit back by any staff member in school building, and that person would NOT get into any trouble!!!!! Would it happen? God I hope not. But the fact that it COULD and there would be ZERO RECOURSE scares the crap out of me. Would it scare YOU?

There are lots of "what-if's" here. For example, WHAT IF this had happened in a closed room without an audience? HOW HARD would Angela have been hit? (the county attorney's answer? "Well, there would have been a mark, then we'd have reason to prosecute.")

WHAT IF this was a non-verbal child in a closed-room situation? (The county attorney's answer? "Well, then it wouldn't have been reported, would it?")

This leaves Angela AND EVERY OTHER DISABLED CHILD WITH AGGRESSIVE TENDENCIES at SIGNIFICANT RISK in future situations. That ONE PERSON who gets the stupid idea of "If someone slapped her back once, I bet she wouldn't do it again." would get away with it!!!!!

My other question is, why does the person who did this go by TWO DIFFERENT NAMES????? She is known at school by one name, but a different name at school. (she has a two-part first name and a hypenated last name. School knows her by one part of the first name and one part of the last name.) I realize lots of people do this, but boy...it sure makes one wonder if something has happened before and she has REASON to go by different names!

12 comments:

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

That's crazy! I can't believe that this woman is not getting into trouble! What is WRONG with people?! Sheesh

Katrina said...

I can't believe this happened and she's getting away with it! Have you contacted any agencies to help you with this? ARC, NADS, NDSS, etc ... the media. I would take it to the media because people need to know this happened. It's time we as parents of children with a disability banded together! Hugs and many prayers for strength!

Anonymous said...

"in Minnesota, an adult can act in "self defense" and strike back against the child."

So by that standard if a one year old hits a caretaker to get their attention they have the right to back hand them? Daycares must be very scary in Minnesota.

I can't believe this could be for real. I'm sorry.

Jeanne and Joshua said...

Please make the http://www.ragged-edge-mag.com/ aware of this. This information needs to get out to the disability community.

leylah said...

I got to your blog through the DOWN-SYN listserv. This is beyond infuriating, may I post this to a mothering board I belong to. There are a number of mothers with special needs kids on this board who live in Minnosota and I'd like them to be aware of this. I am sorry you and Angela are having to go through this.

Laura Iveson

Kathie Brinkman said...

I can't believe this. That staff person should be punished for slapping Angela. This just doesn't seem right to me. Maybe this is a case to take to the local TV media? I would think they would like it. Could you write to your MN congress person about this? What this ruling tells me is that there is a double standard here. Angela has an IEP and special behavioral management system in place that the school is legally supposed to abide by. Can you hold the school accountable for this staff person's actions? Don't let this go.

Anonymous said...

OMG.... this is bulls**t!! I absolutly can't believe this. I thought this was all taken care of and now they tell you this?! I am furious right along w/ya. You have to go higher up. Knowing you, you will and I can't wait to see what you do. Keep me posted. If you need some help, let me know. Jennifer aka Googsmom @ Uno

Michelle said...

Oh my goodness. I am so sorry for your daughter...and you for having to deal with this. I have no words, only prayers that this this woman (and others like her) receive proper punishment. Personally, I'd be contacting the media. No excuse for what has happened. Love to your dear Angela!

Carey said...

What is wrong with the state of Minnesota? You've got to make this public and get something done about it. I would be equally furious and I'm not sure I'd ever feel safe sending my child to school there again. Prayers for you and your family!

Kathi said...

I also live in Dakota County Minnesota and that is just not accceptable. My son has hit his para and his teachers - none of them ever better hit him back and claim it as self defense.

What can we do to change that law?

Anonymous said...

This is what the law says, specifically:

121A.582 STUDENT DISCIPLINE; REASONABLE FORCE.
Subdivision 1. Reasonable force standard. (a) A teacher or school principal, in exercising
the person's lawful authority, may use reasonable force when it is necessary under the
circumstances to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another.
(b) A school employee, school bus driver, or other agent of a district, in exercising the
person's lawful authority, may use reasonable force when it is necessary under the circumstances
to restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another.
(c) Paragraphs (a) and (b) do not authorize conduct prohibited under sections 121A.58 and
121A.67.
Subd. 2. Civil liability. (a) A teacher or school principal who, in the exercise of the person's
lawful authority, uses reasonable force under the standard in subdivision 1, paragraph (a), has a
defense against a civil action for damages under section 123B.25.
(b) A school employee, bus driver, or other agent of a district who, in the exercise of the
person's lawful authority, uses reasonable force under the standard in subdivision 1, paragraph (b),
has a defense against a civil action for damages under section 123B.25.
Subd. 3. Criminal prosecution. (a) A teacher or school principal who, in the exercise of the
person's lawful authority, uses reasonable force under the standard in subdivision 1, paragraph (a),
has a defense against a criminal prosecution under section 609.06, subdivision 1.
(b) A school employee, bus driver, or other agent of a district who, in the exercise of the
person's lawful authority, uses reasonable force under the standard in subdivision 1, paragraph (b),
has a defense against a criminal prosecution under section 609.06, subdivision 1.
Subd. 4. Supplementary rights and defenses. Any right or defense in this section is
supplementary to those specified in section 121A.58, 121A.67, 123B.25, or 609.06, subdivision 1.
History: 2000 c 489 art 6 s 3; 1Sp2001 c 6 art 2 s 6

Adam said...

This is nuts, First I read your blog all the time and was turned on to it from unomas21.com. I actually voted everyday while I was at work for you "help leah blog for a year". My only suggestion is "Call the press" I am sure the news would have a hay day with this. If anything it would possibly open the public eyes to that ruthless b!@#h and maybe get her fired. I am so sorry to here this news.