Petition Closed
Petitioning Massachusetts DESE, Courts, Elected Officials

End Approved Use of Harmful Aversives on Ppl w/ Disabilities @JRC


The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, MA  is the nation’s only remaining residential special education school to utilize aversive therapy (including electric shock), on individuals with disabilities. Their practices include very controversial applications of behavioral methodology.  JRC is under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for their highly controversial practices;  a long history (link) of tension surrounds their application of behavioral methodology.   Their practices have been deemed to meet the legal definition of torture by dozens of disability rights organizations (link), yet the school, the only one in the nation to still utilize aversive therapy, remains open.  For years, JRC has justified the use of aversive methods to discipline students with disabilities despite sharp criticism from colleagues in the field by contending that it is the last resort for the many residents of the school, many of whom are considered to have severe disabilities. Massachusetts grants the Judge Rotenberg Center status as an approved special education school in the state. 

It is difficult to understand how JRC can continue to justify their methodology by their population alone, especially given that every other state in the nation, who clearly are also home to students with similar challenges, do not engage in - but rather, renounce - the use of aversive therapy. Massachusetts has stricter regulations enforcing the rights of both incarcerated individuals  and animals than students with disabilities.

In 2007, JRC attracted much unwanted attention when a report from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care detailed an incident in which two of the school’s residents were shocked upwards of 75 and 28 times, both requiring emergency medical attention, the result of a prank phone call from a former resident of the school. According to reports, JRC refused to cooperate in the subsequent investigation, destroying video evidence of the administration of the aversive procedures, despite being ordered to turn it over to the State Police

Now another family has come forward: Andre McCollins, a former student at the school, was shocked and restrained for 7 hours at JRC. Andre required follow up care, diagnosed as "acute stress response" by Children's Hospital (Boston). JRC asked a Massachusetts court to seal the tape under the premise that the public may be upset and interpret the contents out of context -- and the court agreed.

Why doesn't JRC want you to see this video? Because public outrage will bring the 50 million dollar a year organization to the ground.

#TAKEASTAND and let your voice be heard: you can decide for yourself what is and is not acceptable treatment of students with disabilities in Massachusetts.

See the story here: http://bit.ly/yuMD0a

My original blog onthis topic can be found here: http://rethinkingseveredisabilities.blogspot.com/ 

Letter to
Massachusetts DESE, Courts, Elected Officials
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Massachusetts

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The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, MA is the nation's last remaining school for students with disabilities to employ the use of harmful aversives and electric shock as a form of behavior modification. Their practices have been deemed to meet the legal definition of torture by dozens of disability rights organizations (link), yet the school, the only one in the nation to still utilize aversive therapy, remains open. Students have died, been treated for burns, been tied down, been treated for scute stress responses, and more while in the care of JRC.

For years, JRC has justified the use of aversive methods to discipline students with disabilities, despite sharp criticism from colleagues in the field, by contending that it is the last resort for the many residents of the school, many of whom are considered to have severe disabilities. It is difficult to understand how JRC and the state of Massachusetts/Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can continue to justify this methodology by their population alone, especially given that every other state in the nation, who clearly are also home to students with similar challenges, do not engage in - but rather, renounce - the use of aversive therapy. Massachusetts has stricter regulations enforcing the rights of both incarcerated individuals and animals than students with disabilities.


Andre McCollins, a former student at JRC, was shocked and restrained for 7 straight hours and required follow up care, diagnosed as "acute stress response" by Children's Hospital (Boston). JRC asked a Massachusetts court to seal the tape under the premise that the public may be upset and interpret the contents out of context -- and the court agreed. JRC doesn't want us to see this video because public outrage will bring the 50 million dollar a year organization to the ground.

I #TAKEASTAND and want my voice to be heard: I do not condone the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's approval of JRC as a private special education school and I do not believe harmful aversives should be used as a means of behavior modification for students with disabilities.

End the use of harmful aversives and close the Judge Rotenberg Center.
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Sincerely,