Friday, January 15, 2010

Restraint & Seclusion National Call-In Day - Contact Your Members of Congress

Please repost and distribute the announcement below, which explains how to contact your members of Congress on Thursday, January 21st, to ask for their support in preventing abusive restraint and seclusion in the schools.

Dear Friends, Advocates and Community Members,

In one week, Congress will come back in session. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), in conjunction with the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), is asking you to join us in a National Call-In Day on Thursday, January 21st to tell your members of Congress to support the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247/S.2860) introduced last month by Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). This legislation would provide students with and without disabilities vital protections against abuse in schools. We are providing details on how to contact your members of Congress -- please distribute this announcement widely.


Please call this coming Thursday and encourage your friends, family and coworkers to participate by dialing the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking for your Congressional representative to Co-Sponsor H.R. 4247, and your senators to Co-Sponsor S. 2860.

• To find out the names of your US Senators and Representative, click here (link to
• Ask for the offices of your US Senators and Representative
• Ask to speak to the person working on education issues
• Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you represent (if any)

Message: “ I am calling to urge (Senator y) to cosponsor S.2860, legislation preventing harmful use of restraint and seclusion in schools.”

Message: “I am calling to urge (Representative z) to cosponsor HR 4247, legislation preventing harmful use of restraint and seclusion in schools.”

Thanks for your advocacy. Increasing congressional support for these bills will help move them through the legislative process towards enactment. Please call on January 21, 2010 and tell your friends and family to join you. If you are interested in doing more, please e-mail us at for information about how you can arrange a meeting with your representatives to explain why this bill is essential or visit to learn more.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the APRAIS Coalition

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Action Alert on Autistic Child Charged with Felony

As a consequence of a school restraint incident, an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price has been charged with felony assault. There were no serious injuries, and the incident occurred under circumstances where the use of restraint would not have been legal if recently introduced federal civil rights legislation to protect children in schools had been in effect. Please take action by contacting the school principal and superintendent to inform them of your concerns and, if you can, repost the ASAN Action Alert set forth below.


In the past, we've written to you about advocacy issues relating to the rights of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. Our voices have made a difference on all manner of policy concerns and have sent a clear message that those who seek to deprive Autistic people of any age of their rights will have our community to answer to. Now we'd like to ask you to help us take action to help protect an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price, currently being charged with felony assault after fighting back when two staff members restrained him in response to behavioral challenges. The school has ignored repeated efforts from Zakh's grandmother over the course of the last five months to obtain needed IEP supports to improve his educational options and manage his behavioral difficulties.

According to the suspension notice, the restraint was in response to Zakh destroying school property - something beyond the scope of what would be allowed under recently introduced federal civil rights legislation around restraint and seclusion in schools. Disability advocates, including ASAN, are fighting to pass this crucial legislation that would broaden the protections available to students like Zakh as well as those with other disabilities and with no disability at all. We have asked for your help in passing this important legislation, and together we can succeed in bringing proposed civil rights protections into law - but not in time to help Zakh. That is why we need you to take action now. Find out how below:

School Principal:
Pam Siebenmorgan (One of the charging parties in Zakh's felony hearing - polite but firm calls and e-mails encouraging her to drop the charges would be helpful)
Phone: 479-646-0834

School Superintendent:
Dr. Benny Gooden (The Superintendent runs the entire school district - polite but firm calls and e-mails communicating how this situation is damaging Fort Smith Public Schools' reputation would be helpful as well)
School Board Office: 1-479-785-2501 Ext. 1201

We recommend that you both e-mail and call if you can. If necessary, e-mail is the preferable option. If you would like your e-mails to be passed along to Zakh's grandmother, please bcc: Please stress the importance of Fort Smith Public Schools taking the following steps:

-Drop the charges against Zakhqurey Price

-Work with his grandmother to put in place an IEP that will fulfill Zakh's right for a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment

-Improve training for school personnel to prevent future such incidents and to ensure that students on the autism spectrum as well as with other disabilities are included, supported and educated in Fort Smith Public Schools.

If Zakh is declared incompetent as part of the hearing scheduled for January 12th, state law requires that he be placed into a mental hospital for at least 30 days. His grandmother fears that, due to the negative repercussions of being taken out of the community and being forced into an institutional setting, Zakh may lose skills in such an environment and not be returned to her indefinitely. That is why we need you to act now. Please distribute and repost this action alert. Thank you for your time and your advocacy, and as always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Update: The hearing has been rescheduled for April 13th. Click here for more on how you can support Zakh and his family.