The Hell rooms of Calvert County Public Schools Part I: Seclusion & Restraint

March 26, 2019
Cooper Stephens described the seclusion room as Hell like.

Cooper Stephens described the seclusion room as Hell like.

The following article was submitted to SMNEWSNET by Waller Squared Media Productions.

“Seclusion and restraint.” It probably isn’t a term with which most people are familiar. If the unfamiliar person were to wager a guess at just what exactly does “seclusion and restraint” mean, images of maximum security prisons or the interrogation of terrorism suspects might come to mind. Cooper Stephens is all too familiar with the term; yet, he isn’t an inmate or a terrorism suspect. Cooper is an unassuming 13-year-old special education student in the Calvert County Public School System. In two words, Cooper describes the seclusion room where he was held: “It’s hell.”

Media attention has recently focused on the issue of seclusion and restraint in Fairfax County, VA schools. According to a report on WAMU-FM, the school system failed to report hundreds of cases of seclusion and restraint to the federal government, and special needs children were traumatized by repeated acts of seclusions at the hands of school personnel.

Calvert County, MD, nestled on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, may not have a lot in common with Fairfax County, VA. But, when it comes to the school’s practice of seclusion and restrain on students with disabilities, things begin to look a lot alike.

The Code of Maryland Administrative Regulations (COMAR) defines restraint as “a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move the student’s torso, arms, legs, or head freely.” Seclusion is “the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving.” Together, these practices are known as “Student Behavior Interventions.”

Cooper and his father, Guy Stephens of Lusby, MD, allege that Cooper was subjected to both restraint and seclusion at Calvert County Middle School on a number of occasions during his first fourteen days of the 2018-2019 school year. The Stephens contend that the experience was so traumatic to Cooper, that after only three weeks of attendance at the school, he was unwilling to return. He is now receiving education through “Home & Hospital Instruction.”

Guy Stephens explained that Cooper had a positive experience in the Calvert County Public School system from first grade until the mid-year of fifth grade. Cooper, who started first grade in what is today called an “SLE” special education program, progressed remarkably well, particularly with the support of a favorite teacher with whom he was with for two and a half years. By the middle of fifth grade, Cooper was in regular “inclusion” classes for all but one subject. But, things took a turn for the worse when Cooper’s teacher was in an automobile accident and did not return to the classroom for the remainder of fifth grade. “Change is difficult for Cooper”, noted his father. “When he lost his primary support person at the school, there were a number of behavior issues.”

Mr. Stephens stated that things came to a head after Cooper experienced two incidents of being physically restrained by school personnel in fifth grade. On the last occasion, Cooper had left his classroom and was hiding in a school bathroom. While one school staff member coaxed Cooper out of the bathroom, another grabbed hold of him unexpectedly and physically forced him into a classroom. “This pushed Cooper from a 9 to a 20 on his scale of escalation.” Mr. Stephens was called to the school and found Cooper in the classroom, throwing items and ripping things up. Mr. Stephens asked the several school personnel present in the room to please step out. He spoke to Cooper and helped him to eventually calm down.

After much consideration and with Cooper’s input, The Stephens decided to homeschool Cooper for sixth and seventh grades. Near the end of seventh grade, Cooper began showing an interest in returning to public school. In contemplating Cooper’s return to Calvert County Schools, Mr. Stephens stated, “physical contact was a huge concern for us.”

Mr. Stephens notes that Cooper is on the autism spectrum, is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and an anxiety disorder. Mr. Stephens furnished copies of numerous correspondence he had with the staff of Calvert Middle School before the eighth grade school year had begun, demonstrating his efforts to inform Cooper’s teachers about his disabilities, develop an adequate Individualized Education Program (IEP), and convey ways for the teachers to best communicate with Cooper to prevent behavioral escalations.

In a September 12, 2018 email Mr. Stephens sent the school, he wrote, “Do not touch or try to restrain him if he is very upset, this can make a bad situation worse.” Mr. Stephens believed he had done everything needed to make Cooper’s experience returning to Calvert County Public School a positive and successful one. Unfortunately, it was anything but positive and successful, as Mr. Stephens and Cooper allege that Cooper was physically restrained on numerous occasions. The first occurrence was on the third day of school.

Mr. Stephens does not believe that Calvert County’s seclusion and restraint policies are in alignment with Maryland state law. Maryland law mandates that “the use of seclusion is prohibited in public agencies and nonpublic schools until there is an emergency situation and seclusion is necessary to protect a student or other person from imminent, serious, physical harm after other less intrusive, nonphysical interventions have failed or been determined inappropriate.”

Calvert County Public Schools has adopted “Administrative Procedures for Policy #3215 (Students) Regarding Student Behavior Interventions”, which is published on the school system’s website. This document, last revised on September 8th, 2017, establishes a lesser standard for the practice of seclusion on students in Calvert County public schools than the standard required under Maryland law.

Calvert County permits school personnel to practice seclusion when “there is an emergency situation in order to protect the student or another person after less intrusive interventions have failed or been determined to be inappropriate.” At first glance, this policy may look the same as what Maryland law requires; however, there is an important element missing from Calvert’s policy. COMAR dictates that seclusion can only be practiced to protect a student or other person from imminent, serious, physical harm [emphasis added]. Those four little words carry great meaning.

On January 14th, 2014, the Maryland State Department of Education – Division of Special Education / Early Intervention Services issued the “The Use of Restraint and Seclusion” Fact Sheet to help guide Maryland schools with policy development. This guidance document emphasizes the “imminent, serious, physical harm” standard for the practice of restraint or seclusion, and it further defines exactly what is required before a school can act to restrain or seclude a child; namely:

1. a substantial risk of death;
2. extreme physical pain;
3. protracted and obvious disfigurement; or
4. protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.

A review of policies from other Maryland county school systems, including Howard County and Anne Arundel County, reveal that their policies include the “imminent, serious, physical harm” standard as prescribed by Maryland law.

Mr. Stephens obtained copies of the documentation Calvert Middle School staff completed for two reported incidents of restraint and seclusion practiced on Cooper in September and October of 2018. The September report indicates that Cooper was placed in the seclusion room for hitting the school psychologist in the arm, hitting doors/walls and being verbally aggressive. In the October incident, the documentation indicates that Cooper was placed in the seclusion room for spitting, kicking, and hitting doors/walls. During the October incident, after Cooper was released, he was again placed in the seclusion room a short time later for throwing water on the staff.

Mr. Stephens has filed a complaint with the Calvert County Public School system. He does not believe that Cooper, even if he did spit, throw water and do the other reported behaviors, did anything that rises to the level of putting anyone at risk of imminent, serious, physical harm. Mr. Stephens’s complaint centers on Calvert County’s practice of seclusion and restraint in alleged violation of Maryland law, and he believes that the State of Maryland has published the statistics that support his position.

On December 1, 2018 the Maryland State Department of Education published a report titled “Restraint and Seclusion Data Collection, Findings, and Recommendations.” This report shows the number of restraint incidents and the number of seclusion incidents reported in each Maryland county during the 2017-2018 school year. Calvert County reported 701 incidents of seclusion and 576 incidents of restraint for the school year. Though only 14th in size in terms of total school enrollment, Calvert County was second in its percentage of both seclusion incidents and restraint incidents. Mr. Stephens believes Calvert County’s numbers are actually higher than reported, alleging that he believes Cooper was restrained and secluded six or seven times, though the school has only provided him with documentation of two incidents. “There doing it and they’re not reporting it”, Mr. Stephens alleges.

Though burdened with his personal challenges, Cooper Stephens is nonetheless an astute child. Cooper has intently followed his father’s efforts to advocate for him and for other similarly situated students with disabilities. Cooper, while recently riding home with his father after attending a friend’s birthday party said, “I think I want to go back to school.” When Mr. Stephens talked with his son about this decision, Cooper added, “If I go, I want to take your cell phone. I want to record them. I want to show you what they did to me.”

“Seclusion and restraint.” It probably isn’t a term with which most people are familiar. Ms. Dawn Balinski, President of the Calvert County Board of Education, was contacted for a comment about this investigation. Her comment suggests that even she is not appropriately familiar. “Until last week, when a parent sent the [Maryland State Department of Education] report to me on ‘restraint and seclusion’ data by county, I had never even heard those words used in connection with our discipline procedures” Ms. Balinski wrote in an email to Waller Squared Media Productions.

According to guidance provided to schools by the U.S. Department of Education, “Restraint or seclusion should never be used as punishment or discipline…” (U.S. Department of Education, Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document, Washington, D.C., 2012.)

Though Ms. Balinski wasn’t previously aware of the issue, she is now concerned. She wrote, “I was shocked to see the high number of incidences in Calvert and have asked the Superintendent to investigate and report back to the Board.”

———————————————————-
Mr. Guy Stephens and Cooper have consented to being identified in this report.

An interview has been scheduled with Superintendent Daniel Curry. A request for records has been made to the Calvert County Public Schools pursuant to the provisions of the Maryland Public Information Act. Additional investigative reporting to follow.

Brian Waller
Waller Squared Media Productions

About the author: Brian Waller is a retired police administrator, crisis intervention & mental health first aid instructor, and criminal investigator, – now turned public interest journalist. He manages Waller Squared Media Productions, LLC and may be reached at Brian@WallerSquaredMedia.com

Waller Squared Media Productions, find important stories, and make sure those stories are properly investigated and adequately explained. Many of today’s local news outlets barely scratch the surface to get to the bottom of important regional issues. They will tunnel to the center of the earth if that is what it takes to expose the truth on matters of public interest to the citizens of Delmarva and beyond.

They are not a personal opinion driven blog. They do not publish unsubstantiated claims. Investigations conducted with integrity and high ethical standards is all that we do.

They believe that our local and state public institutions must be transparent, and that the public should be well informed in order to make informed decisions about matters of significance to our community.

86 Responses to The Hell rooms of Calvert County Public Schools Part I: Seclusion & Restraint

  1. Mrs K on March 26, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    What an interesting article. I had my own experiences as a parent with St Marys County. Following Individual education Plans is a big problem. It’s sad that it’s a constant battle with the school systems to educate our Special education students. Unfortunately it seems the systems try to get by with the least amount of work or educational equipment if it’s a little different or out of the normal path. But that’s what our Special education kids need, they may need hand signals or special equipment to help them learn. It shouldn’t be a fight the entire time they are in school hopefully inclusively educated as much as possible by an educational system that truly cares about them.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      If a student requires “special needs”, then a specific school is what should be providing those needs or keep the students out of the general population. Others should not have limitations placed on them due to the under achievers being forcibly mixed in. Special needs deserve special education processes and a seperate environment. God knows enough tax dollars are extracted under the education banner to pay for it.

      • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 4:05 pm

        Wow, seriously!?! ‘Keep them out of the general population’, ‘under achievers’. It’s a good thing you posted that comment as Anonymous you jackass. What makes your kid (or you for that matter) any better than a child with special needs? Your comment is wrong on so many levels. Just because they learn different does not mean they should be excluded from the environment they are in, nor are they under achievers. It means that they need help in certain areas (reading, writing, math, etc.) and are provided the one-on-one instruction in that specific area. My kids school has ‘special needs’ children and my kids LOVE those kids being in their class. They love to help them, play with them, talk to them, because that’s what kids should do and how they should feel. Obviously you were never taught to treat everyone equal regardless of race, religion, looks, disability, etc. I pray that no one in your family ever has a ‘special needs’ child because I guess you’ll just ignore them since they don’t belong in your perfect little world.

        • Anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 8:14 am

          Oh please. Boo Hoo.

          “Special needs” is just another way of saying not normal or not typical.

          So get em help – but don’t tax the majority of the population with the baggage.

          Either they can fit in the standard classroom environment or they can’t.

          If they can’t – get em OUT! Place them in a seperate classroom adequate to educate them. Stop being a hinderance and limit to others.

          This isn’t news anyway – just the latest drama from the “minorities R us” gang.

          • Lynn on March 29, 2019 at 10:32 am

            Cooper is not so different from my son, who went through CCPS on an IEP w/autism spectrum and ADHD. He was difficult in the class, but they worked with him at CMS and CHS. He’s now graduated from college and doing well in a professional full time job and living on his own. Like mine, Cooper is probably very intelligent. If you isolate and undereducated ones like him, they’ll never learn the social and life skills to succeed. Is it better that we pay for him/them for life with our taxes because they are pushed aside? I know it’s not better for our children. Take heart, Stephens family, middle school is hardest on almost all, including my son.
            Good reporting, Waller2.

  2. annonomus on March 26, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    back in my day kids like him weren’t allowed in public schools to bother other kids they went to private school

  3. JOHN DENT on March 26, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    I DO NOT THINK LAWS SHOULD BE CHANGED DUE TO 1 CIRCUMSTANCE OF YOUR CHILD BEING NON COMPLIANT, COMBATIVE WHEN TOUCHED, AND DEGRADING OTHER CHILDREN’S EDUCATION.

    • Lisa on March 27, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      According to this article, he only wants the original law to be followed. These methods are not supposed to be used as discipline.

  4. I'm still laughing on March 26, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Brian Waller and ” Waller Squared media productions” is a complete JOKE.

    • Brian Waller on March 27, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      One may call me names all they want. If you wish to have a real and productive debate, where we actually discuss facts and reality, please let me know. Otherwise, you stick to name calling and I will stick to public interest journalism. Isn’t it great that we live in a country where we have such a choice. We can choose to be ignorant and remain anonymous; or, we can put ouself out there for no other reason than to report on an I issue that many people find important, relying on properly vetted sources and tangible evidence. Thank you for your production contribution to this discussion,
      Brian R Waller

  5. Anonymous on March 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Im sorry but if my kid was this much of a burdon, and on top of being autistic became aggressive to staff and peers to the point of having to leave him secluded and restrained, i would NOT rely on the public school system.

    • CHAD BARNETT on March 27, 2019 at 4:36 pm

      What you may be missing is Maryland has adopted the inclusion model for special needs, and the kids have the right under the law to attend school, the kicker is when the school is not equipped to meet the needs of the IEP, they fight not to transfer them out of the school for a level of care that they may need because those dollars get taken directly form their budget to accommodate a special needs kid… so in turn the kid get a substandard level of care and education… Maryland made the decision to go to the inclusion model and some jurisdictions manage it better than others…

  6. Anonymous on March 26, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    If Cooper and others like him cannot behave themselves is a classroom environment they should not be allowed to attend. The education of all the children in the class should be more important than keeping one outlier in a classroom. CCPS is hamstrung by a Board of Ed that does not allow expulsions for any reason, the use of suspensions is very restricted, and even the writing of referrals is now being frowned upon. With no discipline options and forced inclusion, chaos will occur.

    • A Former Teacher and Administrator on March 27, 2019 at 7:15 am

      All that you are frustrated with the CCPS is mandated by the state. The counties really have no choice to act on discipline differently from state mandates. If your child is in public school, they will have students in their classes who would not have been in them 40 years ago. However, the push has been towards inclusion and not separating students with special needs from the mainstream. No matter you feel about it, inclusion is here to stay, and it is up to the school systems to provide adequate oversight and resources for those students. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Suspension is allowed the issue is that students in specialized programs are in those programs to help them succeed. They are rarely suspended due to the nature of the program and to better understand the regonalkzed special programs you would have to read about them. Each program is different based on who the programs is focused to. Such as autism programs or behavioral programs. Students can be suspended, but that does not help them in the long run. On top of that you must jump through many of hoops to suspend a student especially a student who is identified as special ed. Lastly the county can be fined for over suspending.

  7. Anonymous on March 26, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    I hope you get to the bottom of this. My son was put in one of those rooms when he was in elementary school. I couldn’t believe what I saw. He has an IEP as well.

    • Rob Stark on March 27, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      Yeah, yeah, i’m sure.

  8. Anonymous on March 26, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    What? No comments?

  9. Rob Stark on March 26, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Let me guess, the Stephens’ are planning a lawsuit?

  10. JOSH FURY on March 26, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    So he has/had fits of rage and destroyed a classroom, was throwing things and ripping and destroying things,throwing a drink on his teacher? Autistic or not,he should have got his ass beat let alone putting him in a little time out room. Maybe you should be handling his education,not the PUBLIC school system, which is a joke in itself. If i had a kid with autism no way in hell i would even have him in public school to start with!

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      Depending on individual cases, some autistic children can comply with proper classroom standards.

      However, your comments are true. This is what is needed, or rather – what should have NOT been ruled out. Years ago, discipline was maintained. But balls fell off and the species became genderless.

  11. Anonymous on March 26, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Same with Calvert Hospital. This county needs reform and it starts with the career politicians we have in this county. They all need to go including the Sheriff
    Fed up citizen

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Move then. Politicians are elected by the citizens of the county. If they are not the same politicians you like, then you are in the minority. Or run for office yourself.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      You hit it on the head.

      But the democrats are in control and their sheep are asleep at the wheel.

      • MB on March 27, 2019 at 8:04 pm

        Democrats haven’t been in control in how many years? We’ve had complete Repblican Commissioners, and our delegates to Annapolis. Not a single Dem in the bunch. Don’t know the political affiliations of the BOE members–that’s not readily available. But, your “career politicians” that have been in power for this term, and at least the term preceding this one have all been Republican. Go blow smoke somewhere that people don’t know any better.

        • Anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 10:39 am

          Ummm wasn’t mike miller just disclosed as the longest serving state senator in the ENTIRE country? The house of delegates and Senate are stacked with Democrats and calling Hogan a republican is a stretch at best. More rightist democrat running as a republican. The democrats control MD and 2/3 of the government is control. Looks like your democratic leaders have done a good job of brainwashing you. Or you are just ignorant of how government works.

    • BuddyHance on March 28, 2019 at 6:13 am

      Maybe you need to go!

  12. Rainy82 on March 26, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    I believe the safety of all students comes first. Any spitting, biting, hitting behaviors by any child onto another is not acceptable. I believe it is extremely difficult for teachers to judge how behaviors could escalate into serious injurious behaviors or self inflicted injurious behaviors. I’m sure the board will take all students’ and TEACHERS’ safety into consideration in making policies for alternative means to curb unsatisfactory behaviors. It’s often the quick decison that’s made in regards to aborting unacceptable behaviors to prevent escalation to a degree when others are in danger. Teachers need more support and guidelines when making decisions to make ALL students feel safe.

    Additional means could include an aide following a student as a support person. Perhaps, that would be a better way to alleviate a student’s anxiety. If a disruption is such a problem, having a paraprofessional assigned would serve to address several problems. The extra adult in the classroom allows an immediate intervention to be readily available. It could prevent any escalation. The support person could be responsible for “watching the class” briefly if the teacher handles any incidents or the paraprofessional could be straight out trained to handle the anxious student in keeping them on task. Extra eyes would make everyone feel safer.

    • Can you handle the truth? on March 27, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Considering that over half of ALL county taxes go directly to that black hole named “education”, the board sure has managed to make a social mess out of the entire business.
      Schools are now liberal-run Psyc wards where anything but benificial learning ocurrs.
      It is all about sports, liberal agenda, liberal propaganda, and socialism.

      • Sat on March 27, 2019 at 7:48 pm

        Maybe you should learn to spell and write proper English before you criticize anyone else.

        • Not anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 11:05 am

          Please tell us what is wrong about his comment? Try again. As a matter of fact, yours isn’t proper, because english is not capitalized. Fail. Idiot!

          • Tina on March 28, 2019 at 3:51 pm

            Actually, English should be capitialized.

        • Not anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 11:06 am

          Butthurt liberal, i see. LMAO

  13. Nelly on March 26, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    First of all I’m a mom with a child with disabilities but I’ve tought my child respect not to use his disability to be disrespectful to anyone or do as he pleases. It’s sad to see the president of the board not support its teachers on the daily struggle they go through everyday to try and teach these kids. If she’s not aware then she needs to head down into some of these schools to see what really goes on instead of cleaning her hands saying she wasn’t aware. Its easy to judge when your not the one getting hurt or dealing with all this behavior plus dealing with other kids. Second thing I’ve been in some of these Gen-ed classrooms and they have from kids grabbing pencils/scissors to try and stab you to trowing chairs and just closing their fist and swinging the punches at ur face without any prior knowledge. I’ve heard the teachers try to teach and some responses are you can’t make me i don’t want to do anything and they just sit and do nothing. So imagine and think about it if the whole class decides to do nothing. Who is the goverment or the parent going to blame if they see the kids not learning anything. These schools are not a safe working environment yet the teachers wake up every morning to give it their best and when they try to contact the parents to relate the behavior they are no where to be found or do not respond to teachers notes or calls. We live in a society where Having a disability or being poor means you can do as you please with no respect towards others or without any consequences what so ever. Parents think school is a babyssiting place. They don’t get the help their kids need in order to be successful and the goverment doesn’t force them to do so. So the teacher ends up dealing with it as best they can. Teachers are no ones punching bag they are no ones babysitter they deserve respect not only from our kids but also from the parents and have the goverments back them up. If they let these kids be unsafe with 20 other children in the classroom where are we going to end up when that unsafe child hurts other children. Who are we going to blame. If teachers restrain a student it’s because the have gone through the proper training and they are trying to keep not only your kid safe but themselves and the other 20 something kids in the classroom as well. Just note they wouldn’t have to restrain if you tought yout kids some respect towards others. Parents please you know your kids you know what there capable of. If you have a problem with the way the teacher work then keep your kids at home and you struggle with them and put up with their behavior after all they are your kids and your mess. But don’t put it in someone else life its a dis-service not only to the other kids but for our teachers as well. They are just trying to teach and some of them take all this home with them and affect them as well not only physically but mentally.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Thank you!

    • Pigs, dogs, and snakes on March 27, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      You are correct. It is a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in now days.

      Teachers are underpayed, under-resoected, and totally under-appreciated.

      Classrooms are battle grounds lacking any form of discipline and order due to the politically correct environment forced upon us all by the new poison of mandatory diversity, and replacing the reward of hard work with participation trophies.

      Toleration and swallowing hard are the new golden rules. Social workers replaced teachers long ago.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 8:27 pm

      I’m not a teacher or parent. But if I were planning my education and career path, and learned there was no way to discipline children and more, I would not become a teacher.
      Lisa

      laeperson62@gmail.com

  14. Anonymous on March 26, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Then just get this kid in the proper program.

  15. Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 5:23 am

    I have a total of 10 years experience working in schools with students with special learning needs in New York State.

    We’d train for days on how to handle a child similar to this young man. We were tested over and over again.
    We took refresher courses throughout the year as well. In addition, we read the student’s IEP and we were familiar with their
    history

    We also had “one on one” Instructional Assistants, (one assistant with one student).
    We were, more often than not able to handle the student without restraining him/her. We were given free reign in how we
    deescalated a situation. The student learned to ask us to walk with them, take a break or just go to the “seclusion” room.
    These procedures did no get the student out of work.
    It DID give them an opportunity to take a break without being in trouble.
    In addition, the student and staff member would discuss what he/she could do to remain in the classroom.
    And more often than not, it helped prevent an incident such as those described in the article.

    There were times that none of our training would help and the student needed to be restrained. On those rare occasions, 2 staff members were involved to assist with restraint as well as a 3rd staff member to observe to make sure the student or staff did not get injured. Afterwards, the school nurse was called to make sure the student and staff were not injured.

    • Walt Kawolski on April 2, 2019 at 8:30 pm

      4 staff members per incident to make sure no one was hurt?
      Just put body cams on the teachers.

  16. Cathy on March 27, 2019 at 7:59 am

    I’ve worked with Cooper on several occasions. He is a bright young man who is being raised by 2 great parents. He is one child that should allowed in Public Schools with my kids. And there are many kids I question whether they should be allowed. This is the first I’ve heard the story of why Cooper is home schooled. I assumed it was due to other kids bullying, but seems more like administrators are doing bullying. I’m happy to testify on behalf of Cooper’s willingness to work hard and his inquisitiveness.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 10:14 am

      Educators doing th4e bullying has become more of the norm. Parents are not really allowed to decide anything concerning the education of their children, and yet the parents have the burden for raising the children.

      Welcome to the socialist republic of amerika. The manifesto has been followed to a “T’

    • exrep on March 27, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      yea ok Cathy when he hurts someone let us know

  17. Will on March 27, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Education is privilege.

    You can not fix stupid.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 8:44 am

      How dare you call anyone “stupid”? Are you an expert and have personal experience with stupid.? Shame on you!

    • Legal Secretary on March 27, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      can not is one word

    • The Truth on March 28, 2019 at 7:55 am

      “…You can not fix stupid”.

      You’re right, Will…you ‘cannot’.

  18. Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 8:33 am

    I was a bad kid and probably would have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. My teachers wanted to put me in a school for special children but my parents fought to keep me in regular classes. Back in my time we were not only separated from the class when we were being bad, we were also smacked with rulers or books and made to do manual labor during recess. I am glad I grew up in a time with proper discipline. I had enough respect for my parents and the possibility of punishment to not cross the line into major offenses. I still barley graduated middle school and high school. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I was able to settle down and start working toward my college degree. Finally in my mid 30’s I graduated from UMUC with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Children need guidance, boundaries, and in some cases corporal punishment. My sister, two brothers, and myself lived through it and are all successful contributing members of society.

  19. research on March 27, 2019 at 8:50 am

    “He does not believe that Cooper, even if he did spit, throw water and do the other reported behaviors, did anything that rises to the level of putting anyone at risk of imminent, serious, physical harm.” Spitting, throwing water or kicking/hitting someone is a CRIME. It is considered Assault/Battery. He needs to be charged. Do you think a student that DIDN’T have disabilities would garner this sort of attention? No, they would be charged with a crime. I’ve witnessed it happen. If you want your child to be in regular classes, they need to be able to handle it, and everything that comes with it. “Don’t restrain him it can escalate the situation?” Then he obviously is not behaved well enough to be in regular classes.

  20. TeachersAreNotCorrectionsOfficers on March 27, 2019 at 9:29 am

    He shouldn’t be allowed to disrupt class and hinder other children from gaining an education, it’s not fair to other students. Mainstreaming does not work. That kid doesn’t need to be restrained, he needs to be permanently removed from regular school and placed in a controlled setting, without interfering with other students. If that doesn’t work, then the parents need to buy a cage and a taser for home schooling.

  21. Ellen Williams on March 27, 2019 at 9:49 am

    What about the Hell Classrooms, where students are subjected to disruptive outbursts and possible injury, from the special kids acting out? Sorry, but it’s not fair to subject other kids to this behavior. So, bring everyone down, because of one child? Having special needs students in school is fine, unless they have disruptive behavioral issues, then they must be removed to their home, or an institutional facility.

  22. Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 10:13 am

    This is why people should just stop having kids. It’s easier and less expensive to have a cat of dog.

    • JOSH FURY on March 28, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Dumbass. Wtf

    • Walt Kawolski on April 2, 2019 at 8:33 pm

      Is that you Cortez?

  23. Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 11:03 am

    “…was placed in the seclusion room for hitting the school psychologist in the arm, hitting doors/walls and being verbally aggressive. In the October incident, the documentation indicates that Cooper was placed in the seclusion room for spitting, kicking, and hitting doors/walls. During the October incident, after Cooper was released, he was again placed in the seclusion room a short time later for throwing water on the staff.”
    Isn’t this considered “assault”? Isn’t assault illegal? Where in my teaching contract does it say I should be spit on, kicked, or hit? Where in my contract does it say I should allow for my students to be hit, kicked or spit on? I am not CPI trained, so I would never touch a student. Put please PLEASE tell me, how should I protect my students? If I remove all my students from a room where a child (not always one with an IEP, by the way) who is destroying things in a violent manner, is that seclusion? If the child hurts another child because I refuse to step in, am I then responsible for the injured child?

  24. ? on March 27, 2019 at 11:25 am

    2019 is a glorious time in America. The minority is now always placed above the majority. One child is disruptive, the entire school must now suffer. In the minds of those in the minority, it is better to destroy the education of 30 students, than to treat a special needs student differently, because heaven forbid the student with different needs is treated differently than the rest. Using that theory, one could argue that blind children should be treated the same as those that have vision, and they are expected to read the same text book. And those who have hearing impairment dont get to use sign language. Those examples are obviously ridiculous, but who gets to choose? Wanting all students to be treated EXACTLY the same is just that. You cant argue special needs students need to be treated the same, and then argue “but…certain special needs student need to be treated differently”. That acknowledges that there truly isnt a one size fits all solution, and each individual student has unique circumstances that dictate their educational needs. Not to say these “dungeon-like” rooms are acceptable, but if certain students need to be educated separately from the majority of students, why is that such a travesty?

    • Anonymous on April 1, 2019 at 10:35 am

      You show more intellect than Waller or his supporters.

      But that ole school thinking is unacceptable in this liberal democrat society of PC fools.

      They should all be ashamed. Anyone boasting of their experience in spite of the things that go on now should go hide.

  25. Bob Jones on March 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    There are always 2 sides to a story. If this were any other kid, you can bet your butt that the cops would’ve been called and had Cooper arrested for hitting the psychologist or any of the other aggressive things he may have done.

  26. Chris on March 27, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    As a child that had this happen to me In this school system of calvert I understand what the schools are doing and I’m a adult with kids of my own now. Yes at the time I hated it and thought it was stupid but I was a violent child and it took alot of making me calming down and therapy to get over my anger. It’s not the best way but it works. Without going through this as a child I mite not be as good of a person as i am today.

  27. Anonymous on March 27, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Myself and my family know this family. This child is a menace, his parents do not hold him accountable for his horrible actions. Any time anyone states something that he has done the parents say oh no not my Cooper he would never do that. Completely untrue he is very destructive and horrible to everyone including his family, animals, property and complete strangers. He needs serious counseling and help to control his behavior. Yet his parents refuse to believe that their perfect angel Cooper is capable of these things. Even when faced with video proof and or multiple witnesses they say no he wouldn’t do that, you just don’t like him because he’s different. Just like they say no dog is bad just bad owners this a partially the case with Cooper his parents are a huge part of his behavioral issues. Cooper is a very intelligent child and with proper discipline and structure he could thrive even though diagnosed with “disabilities”

    • Matt on March 28, 2019 at 10:48 pm

      Post your name or it didnt happen.

  28. dd on March 27, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    The general population is oblivious to the state of education not only in Maryland, but in all of the US. Parents look at their child’s report card and see passing grades and stop there. They don’t look at the child’s work products, they don’t look to see if they’re being taught to standards, or if they do and see the work isn’t up to standard, they are happy the child got away with a “good grade”. People are fools…the schools are run on the business model of pushing kids through the system at the least cost per child. All of the comments on here saying Cooper should be expelled, arrested, or some other “responsible” action have no foresight or understanding of students with special needs, or with society as a whole. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act recognized the discrimination against students with special needs. At the same time, the Act recognizes the benefit and contribution these young people can have on our society. This law was enacted to ensure the schools provided the same opportunity for a Free and Appropriate Education as any and all other students. But, schools don’t see it that way…again, refer back to the business model. Schools don’t train teachers (except in New York I guess); they don’t provide resources to teachers; they don’t support the students; they deny students services…and on and on and on to ensure as little money is spent on students as possible. That includes your gen-ed child. What’s the impact to all of you people who believe these children with special needs should be in their own school and separated from the Gen Ed? Every unsupported child with a disability is at a higher percentage of dropping out of school, of becoming addicted to drugs, to committing crimes, to becoming a teen parent, to becoming a victim of suicide…and who do you think pays for the welfare when these kids aren’t educated to be able to get a job? Who pays for the rehab centers when the kids are on drugs? Who pays higher homeowner’s insurance? Who pays higher consumer prices as retailers account for losses? Who pays for the courts, jails, prisons, social services, etc? Who pays for the medical services? You do, you clueless clowns that are saying put them out on their own. Conversely, what if these children were educated the way they should be? What if they were taught skills that were equivalent to the rest of the kids so they can be functionally and socially responsible, contributing adults to our economy and society. What you fail to see is you’re getting taxed twice by not educating these kids now…you’re taking a hit because you have to support them because they weren’t provided their FAPE, and you’re taking another hit because they’re not adding to the economy…so you have another net loss from the lack of their contribution. Just to provide a little bit of math to demonstrate how silly all of you are that think your child is being educated, check out the Maryland State Education Report Card….see that less than half of students in Maryland are proficient at Math and Reading and Writing….yet Maryland has close to 90% graduation rate. How can that be, you may ask (if you’re smart)? Because they’re pushing kids through, they’re dumbing down the curriculum, they’re faking grades, they’re fabricating grades, they’re just blatantly promoting kids that haven’t met requirements…remember the business model…get the most kids through for the least amount of money regardless of outcome. And how does the school get away with it…they police themselves. They tell you “your child is doing fine…they have good grades.” And you “that’s swell.” Until they graduate. Out of the kids that graduate and go onto college…more than half have to take zero credit remedial math and reading…those are your kids that came home all those years with passing grades. Wake up! Educate all kids instead of believing stories like Cooper’s are individual events…this is happening everywhere right in front of your face. And you want to condemn one child and have no idea what you’re talking about…educate yourself. READ. LEARN. And good luck to all of us. If you want more information, please let me know.

    • Anonymous on April 1, 2019 at 10:31 am

      How about less information?

      Can we let you know that too?

      The state owns your children.

      Liberals and humanists like you have made it a system that strangles any creativity or intellect.

      Then when they freak out, everyone wants a scapegoat.

    • SBD on April 2, 2019 at 7:42 pm

      Why would anyone want more info from you, you condescending ass? You don’t have info, you have opinion. Oh, and how do they “let you know”? Do they go to condescendingasses/opinion and look for dd?

  29. JOSH FURY on March 27, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    They’re lucky this isnt how it was 40 or 45 years ago he would have got the paddle. These snowflake parents are mad becauae he was selcluded from other students? Well lets see why. Sorry but if that was my child i definately wouldnt rely on the public school system.

  30. Mary Ritts on March 27, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    FAKE NEWS.
    These are half truths written by people with an agenda!
    Shame on you! Unless you personally have been in a school in this county and seen with your own eyes how some children behave, you should not be reporting this.

    • Anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      hmm…would this “fake news” and “half truths” be similar to those special needs students you have assessed and caused not to receive what would have been appropriate for their educational success?

      “Shame on you”.

      • Anonymous on April 1, 2019 at 10:27 am

        It’s all about the receiving – isn’t it?

        $$$$

        Gimee gimee gimee

        Those fed and state funded freebies!

        All about the what? Yeah.

    • truthteller on March 28, 2019 at 9:42 pm

      Exactly. This fool claims “high ethical standards ” when hes never even spoke with anyone thats un biased of the situation such as his teachers or others that know the family that wouldnt be biased in their favor, regardless.

  31. SBD on March 27, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I feel for special needs children and their parents, but unstable children who have violent outbreaks should be in special schools where there are specially trained teachers for their own safety and the safety of others. So there should be no Restraint and Seclusion in public schools, for unstable or children with special needs who are prone to violent outbursts should not be there but in a special school or home schooled.

  32. SBD on March 27, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    In Baltimore city schools EVERY room is a HELL ROOM.

    • It's Me on March 28, 2019 at 7:56 am

      And you know this how?

      • SBD on March 28, 2019 at 6:35 pm

        Know people who graduated Baltimore city schools and a few that “used to” teach in them. Besides the graduates that can’t read and the metal detectors at the entrances to make sure students don’t have guns or knives…dead giveaway.

    • Anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      How is that possible when Baltimore receives the second most per student funding in the entire state. In 2017 They receive $16942 per student while St Mary’s only got $13789. If their schools are hell, don’t look to the taxpayers to give anymore to correct the issues. They have plenty of money to figure out how to make changes with what they currently get.

      • SBD on March 30, 2019 at 7:09 pm

        They shouldn’t be getting more tax money, but they will because it’s the democrat way – “screw accountability, just throw more money at it”. Same reason PG County schools can’t account for all of their money and kids STILL graduate illiterate..gotta keep those stats up, keep that tax money rollin’. That’s why democrats want to get rid of the grading system all together. The one guy I know nkw teaches in Calvert and said it’s nice going to work (school) without having to worry about your own safety.

      • SBD on March 31, 2019 at 10:40 am

        They also get more because you have to figure in the cost of security.

  33. David Bury on March 27, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    I want to thank Mr Waller for this excellent and carefully researched article, and Mr Cooper and his son for the tremendous courage they show in agreeing to have their names used in making the public aware of this issue. I say courage because of some of the nasty posts this article as already received. As someone who has also worked with children with various degrees of autism, I have at least a little appreciation of what they must be going through. I also applaud Ms Balinski for being willing to look into whether there are in fact systemic problems with our county school system’s policies and teacher and administrator training in working with special needs students or not. The statistics cited suggest that there may be serious improvements needed, but we won’t know until Ms Balinski and others look into this more. Meanwhile, I hope that good reporters like Mr Waller and responsible Board of Ed represesentatives like Ms Balinski will keep the public informed. And again, my heartfelt admiration to the courage shown by Mr Cooper and his son.

    • Anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 9:54 pm

      Mr. Waller is NOT a real reporter. He has no creds or affilation with any real press, and you no doubt must be close with the Stephens’.

  34. Tony T. on March 28, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Teachers are tired of acting as police officers, and similarly police officers have become teachers when these kids get arrested once they get out of the school system because “Life isn’t fair”. Why aren’t kids being told this? Life isn’t fair! GET OVER IT! This is a society issue that needs to be corrected. We either need to let teachers do their jobs and call kids that are out of control what they are: out of control. Or just press the reset button on this country. It has become so politically correct that Parents “Mr. Cooper” can’t even take responsibility for his son’s actions. I’m sure this kid is also fed a health diet and gets lots of exercise right? Or do you allow him to eat pop tarts for breakfast and have a cell phone with unlimited internet access 24-7? Until we start calling people out for their actions: Mr. Cooper you are a bad father, your son is out of control. Nothing will change. I for one will start it, and have been.

    Call people out don’t let the “emotions” get in the way. The country is dying because of it.

  35. Anonymous on March 28, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Has a parent of a child who has been on the other end of the spectrum, can be equally frustrating. Some schools are just not equipped with the proper resources to help children with emotional disabilities. My child was the scapegoat of a child with emotional disabilities her whole 5th grade year. She truly understood the students troubles and only tried to help them. Some days she would be the scapegoat others the student would come to her for guidance. As the year progressed it got worse for my child. The other student would call her vulgar names, throw pencils and school furniture at her. The school brought in extra resources to help the student. It helped for a time being. The last straw was when the student tried to put his hands on her. She did not want anything to happen to the student because she felt the student had the right to an education because some days they were a delight to be around. So, I see both points a view. It can be very frustrating. But to restrain a child because you can not control them, that is absurd.

  36. Nelly on March 28, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I work in the public system and the teacher do get training. They bust their behinds to ensure the child learns something no matter the behavior or the circumstances. They may not have all the proper resources but the use the lil pay of their own money to get those resources without asking parents for anything. They don’t deny any services they are just burned out by how many kids need the services with lil personel available. Teachers do have a life and family and they still take all this to ensure thw child gets what he needs they shouldn’t be taking work home. Again no one wants to deal with behaviors. They try to place these children in the proper program and most parent refuse to sign believing this helps their child. I think the goverment has given the society to many rights and teachers not enough support. We can’t even say merry christmas anymore because people get offended. Thats the snowflacky world we live on today we are to worried on racial stuff and always complaining over everything then we ask ourselves why our kids complain to much. They dont force parents to get the proper help their kids need just because their afraid of lawsuits and everything in between. As for the teacher support they do all they can and on top of that the get unpaid to work on a unsafe environment because parent refuse to raise their kids and show them respect. We didn’t have this 20 yrs back just because we were taught the right way without worrying on who is uncomfortable with anything we do or say.

  37. SBD on March 28, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Absurd to restrain a child you can’t control? You get in a hell of a lot of trouble if you don’t restrain your dog if you can’t control it. Should they just let the child go berzerk?
    Would it be absurd if that child beat your child so bad they had to go to the hospital because no one restrained them, which happened to the child of someone I know. Students and teachers have a RIGHT to go to school and NOT be harmed by ANY student special needs or not.
    If a child is uncontrollable and prone to violent outburst, then a
    special school or home school is for them. What would be Absurd would be NOT to restrain ANY out of control student – not only absurd, but asinine.

    • Celeste on March 29, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      *LIKE*

    • SBD on March 30, 2019 at 9:39 am

      They need restraint/seclusion in the House and Senate for the Democrats.

  38. Anonymous on April 1, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    My son has been at Calvert County for two years and is now in the 8th grade. He has thrived in this school due to the amazing staff, which regular schools could never give him the learning environment needed to succeed! My son has been in the calm down room and the sensory room which really helps with his issues. Also my son is actually learning how to become successful in his own life, for his future, due to the Amazing staff AT Calvert county! Please let the Board of education handle this issue and be grateful to All teachers that give there all every day.

    • Father Angus Murphy on April 2, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Yes, specialized schools are the way to go, whether annexed or separate within the public school by teachers specially trained to educate special needs children. Why deny a child the special care they need by putting them in a general public school and expect them to be able to deal with a field they’re not familiar, just because they’re forced to by the state. God bless yer son and may he be happy and prosperous all his life, and God bless you for being a loving, caring parent and getting him the special help he needs, instead of just expecting special results from a general school.