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LPS Superintendent Statement Challenges NYT OpEd Alleging Mistreatment of Special Needs Student

In a written statement, Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash rejects claims made in an OpEd column by former Lexington resident Bill Lichtenstein, published over the weekend by the New York Times, that his daughter was mistreated at Fiske.

The following statement was provided by School Committee Chairwoman Margaret Coppe, on behalf of Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash. The bolded emphasis is theirs. Ash is also expected to address the issue at the School Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 11. Read about

The Lexington Public Schools maintains a written policy concerning time-outs and our policy reflects and has always reflected State law.

The Lexington Public Schools keeps and has always kept meticulous records involving the education and treatment of Special Education students. Our notes involving the student in question, which were written on the days in question, do not reflect the account as described in the op-ed column.

When this matter first came to my attention, almost two years after the incident described in the op-ed column, I reviewed the logs and based on the detailed contemporaneous notes I read, I found that staff members followed district protocol.

Finally, despite the parent’s claim that he complained to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and Department of Children and Family Services, at no time was I contacted by any State agency indicating that a complaint had been filed concerning the treatment of this student. Furthermore, we have contacted the two state agencies mentioned, to ask whether a complaint was on record and we were told today that there is no record of either agency having received a complaint.

John Kelly September 11, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Just aired: Boston's Fox News 25 report on the 9/9/12 Lichtenstein Sunday New York Times article on restraint and seclusion rooms in Lexington school, LPS use of seclusion room and his daughter Rose's case: http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/19507874/seclusion-rooms-s
Bill Lichtenstein September 11, 2012 at 04:49 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, September 11, 2012 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The following is a response for the record to the statement made last night by Lexington School Committee Chairwoman Margaret Coppe, on behalf of the Lexington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Ash, regarding my daughter Rose's case and the Sunday New York Times article I wrote on the use of restraints and seclusion in schools. (See Dr. Ash statement at: http://lexington.patch.com/articles/lps-superintendent-statement-challenges-nyt-oped-alleging-mistreatment-of-special-needs-student#comments ) "The facts in our administrative action against Lexington Public Schools and in my Sunday NY Times article came straight from Lexington Public Schools (LPS) files and records and depositions with staff gathered by our attorney during our administrative action and as contained in our Parents Proposed Findings of Fact and Ruling of Law in the administrative action. I challenge anyone to say what happened to Rose is acceptable by any imaginable standard . . .
Bill Lichtenstein September 11, 2012 at 04:50 AM
. . . Additionally. reports of what happened to Rose were made directly by me to executives at the highest level of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. The fact that, according to Dr. Ash, there was no follow-up by either department with LPS, is evidence only of the failure of the system to act to protect children." - Bill Lichtenstein
Poster123 September 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Additionally, this does not address whether these rooms exist and are in use today. One would think if they do not that this would have made it into the statement, but any mention of that is conveniently left out. Bill, is it possible for you to make any of the legal documents, depositions, etc, public? Was the lawsuit 2 years after the incident? Or else how could the superintendent not heard about the incident until that long? Lastly, if LPS was not at fault as the superintendent claims, then damages would not have been awarded, but they were.
Bill Lichtenstein September 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM
The documents from the administrative action can be downloaded at this link: http://www.facebook.com/download/344102279012714/Rose%20Lichtenstein%20documents.pdf
F Chang September 11, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Bill, I'm unable to access that link (Facebook returns "The page you requested was not found."). Maybe it is an access control issue? Could you please double-check by trying to access it while you are not logged into Facebook?
Bill Lichtenstein September 11, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Sorry about the broken link. The documents are now posted on Patch.com You can read them, print them or email or post this link elsewhere. They are at: http://lexington.patch.com/articles/lps-superintendent-statement-challenges-nyt-oped-alleging-mistreatment-of-special-needs-student#pdf-11299348 - Bill Lichtenstein
F Chang September 11, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Aha. The error message was deceptive. One simply needs to be logged into a Facebook account to access the document. Thanks for providing the documents!
Guest September 11, 2012 at 04:26 PM
There are always two sides to a story. Probably there will be some truth to both sides of them (When the LPS makes a more elaborate statement). It is never ok to mistreat a child, and it should be always justified. Just because we live in Lexington does not mean we are invisible, and things like this can and do happen everywhere. Hopefully it will make us all try to be more aware of what is going on in our childrens lives and at school. Lastly, the internet can be a misleading avenue of information. I happen to have lived near the family in question, and saw MANY neglectful and disturbing things throughout some years. So I urge people to take this man's words with a grain of salt....
John Kelly September 11, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Dear anonymous "Guest": Anonymous ad hominem attacks aren't worth the internet bytes they're written on.
LexingtonGuest September 11, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Dear Mr. Lichtenstein, As a concerned parent of a Lexington school child I applaud your courage to speak out about your child's terrible experience and only by shining a light on this practice will help end it. I also do understand you need to defend from people who can't believe it happens here in Lexington and somehow tend to blame the victim. However, the legal material you have posted has considerable background on your daughters private medical history and may be something that when she is of an age truly to make decisions for herself, she does not want scattered all over the internet. As a parent, I recommend you remove it immediately or at least heavily redact it to protect her privacy.
nallex September 11, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I'm not an attorney, but my reading of Paragraph 5 in the General Release is that it's a pretty strong confidentiality statement. Regardless of who's "right" here, should Mr. Lichtenstein be so grossly in violation of this contract that he signed? Again, I'm not an attorney, but to my amateur eyes, it seems like Mr. Lichtenstein exposes himself to significant liability by discussing this issue so publicly.
x September 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Lexington needs more of this -- more special needs students to be cared for at great public expense, more parents of special needs students to complain about their child's treatment, more op-ed pieces, more litigation, more distraction,... and less attention and resources devoted to other students. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Annienonymous September 14, 2012 at 02:11 PM
There is a cost to speaking the truth. Thankfully there are still ethical people like Mr. Lichtenstein that will speak up so others know what is going on in schools around the country - not just Lexington.

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