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Ash Asks State to Investigate Seclusion Room Allegations at LPS

With members of the community and School Committee calling for an independent investigation into allegations of mistreatment of students that arose over the weekend, the schools chief is asking the state to step in.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash is asking the Department of Children and Families to investigate two reports of young students with special needs being left in “time out” rooms following allegations of abuse within the Lexington Public Schools.

In a phone interview with Patch, Ash reiterated involving a student being left in a time out room during the 2005-2006 school year. However, as , Ash said he felt filing a 51A report was the best way to allay those concerns.

“In the abundance of caution, the prudent thing to do is file with the state,” said Ash.

Allegations of abuse came to light over the weekend when Bill Lichtenstein, a former resident, wrote about his .”

An additional report of a Fiske kindergartener being shut inside a “quiet room” in 2008 emerged during a Sept. 11 School Committee meeting at which parents and members of the committee called for an independent investigation of Lichtenstein’s allegations.

While , the superintendent and Linda Chase, the district’s director of student services, said those protocols were discontinued in 2007. However, the parent’s emotional account at the School Committee meeting called that assertion in question.

Speaking with Patch earlier in the day on Wednesday, Lichtenstein said an independent investigation into his and other allegations are a step in the right direction to ensuring that children are safe in the schools.   

According to Ash, bringing in the state agency ensures the investigators have the expertise and authority to do a more thorough and independent investigation than were the School Committee to attempt to bring someone in from the outside.

x September 13, 2012 at 02:52 AM
There is a side issue here that should be examined. I've met parents of special needs children who could live anywhere in the United States. After careful study they moved to Massachusetts. They decided our state has the most comprehensive programs for children with disabilities, and they are 'free'. A local teacher told me her school receives students who cannot be handled in the classroom. They are 'farmed out' for special needs treatment at a cost of over $300,000 per year per student. The school is required by law to do so and taxpayers pay the tab. Shifting the cost of raising a special needs child to society at large makes economic sense to the parents. Massachusetts has become a magnet for parents who seek taxpayer-paid, high-quality treatment of children with disabilities. Why would they wish to live elsewhere? The law of unintended consequences is always in effect. This short note does not touch on compassion - by design. It treats economics, markets and school budgets. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
fitzroy September 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Yeah, Government isn't typically compassionate...one could argue that our Government isn't designed for compassionate governing, it aspires to fair governing. Which would you rather have?

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