Give our children a voice at school.

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Last December, we had to remove our son from his school because we had concerns for his safety.  Our happy little boy had become afraid of school and the "angry eyes" there.  His begging us to not send him with tears in his eyes, became a daily occurrence.  He had anxiety about school, undoubtedly because he had started to become restrained there numerous times a week, one time coming home with trauma to the skin under his arm pits.  In that one particular instance it took the school 2 weeks to give us an account of what had transpired, while during this time our son continued to be restrained numerous times a day. 

We learned that he was being placed in a small space off of one of the classrooms with one aide, who had been instructed to ignore him. On these occurrences, he was there for close to an hour, being ignored in a room with nothing but a filing cabinet.  Even after we requested for him not to be brought to this space, he still was.   

Now, our son had never been aggressive before.  And while we understood that school is a different environment and there are more demands placed, we began to ask the school questions and press for more information.  As parents, we needed to understand how this change in personality at school happened.  Unfortunately, we were not afforded the right to transparency or communication with his one to one aides. 

We understood, and respected that staff had the right to protect themselves, or others, in situations that eminent harm was present (as stated in special education laws).  The problem was  we did not feel this was the case and we had no way of finding out what was happening behind closed doors.  All we knew was there was a significant change in our son and his new fearful feelings about school and "teachers hurting him" along with, what we felt was secrecy, from a school that should, in theory, have nothing to hide.  

I would love to say that our son’s case is one in a million, but unfortunately that is just not the truth.  Many children with special needs are non-verbal and cannot communicate what is happening at school. The stories that I have heard are heartbreaking.  As parents, we need to make sure that our children have a voice.  We need to make sure we are able to protect them behind closed doors. 

We urge you to sign this petition and help support a bill that would require the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to install cameras in Special Education classrooms at the request of parents.  We will never stop fighting for the rights of our kids, they deserve to have a voice.