HAVERHILL (CBS) – Investigators say the staff at the Crowell Kindergarten Center in Haverhill too often resorted to physically holding students down, and sometimes forced them into isolation for too long, for the wrong reasons.
Special education student Jaylin Escoto was five years old. “They put her in a room and it was all padded and she said that they wouldn’t let her out of the room,” said her mother. “She said she’s screaming, ‘I want to get out. I want my mommy.'”
Her mother’s complaint and similar stories from two other sets of parents prompted an independent investigation by the Disabilities Law Center.
“There was one particular five-year-old who was restrained 22 times in one month,” said Colleen Shea, who headed up the investigation. The probe found lengthy time-outs used to discipline kindergarteners with disabilities, and improper use of restraints. “Sometimes it would be a standing hold or a basket hold.”
Haverhill School Superintendent James Scully put out a statement saying changes have been made in the special education department at Crowell. “Since the District was informed of these allegations last year, several of the issues identified in the report have been and will continue to be addressed to ensure that all Haverhill Public School students receive high quality instruction, supports, and services,” Scully said.
The Disability Law Center has asked school administrators to put together a plan to address the problems within 45 days. “These are very young boys and girls, and we really worry what this will mean for them down the line,” said Stanley Eichner, the center’s litigation director.
Little Jaylin Escoto’s mother worries too. “That would be traumatizing for me. So like, a child? That would be really traumatizing,” she said.