Friday, February 1, 2008

Unacceptable Behavior

Eleven year-old autistic student Gunnar Moody and his parents talk about the incident of singing in P.E. class at Bret Harte Middle School in San Jose, CA. which led to the youth's being handcuffed and suspended for three days. Singing? Surely, he must have threatened someone? A school police officer told Gunnar's mother that no, indeed, he had not. He had disobeyed the teacher who had told him to stop singing, and then ordered him to leave the class.

Kristina blogged this earlier at Autism Vox. A reader asked that I also help spread the word about this.

The San Jose Unified School District issued the following statement regarding the incident:

The officer's actions helped to maintain a safe atmosphere for the other 30 students in the class.

Who knew singing could be so threatening?


  1. This does seem too off the wall to believe! Makes me glad we home school right now.

  2. Thank you so much for bring more attention to this matter. I am beyond disturbed about it. :-(

    karen in ca

  3. If it could be shown that the kid was treated differently because he was autistic -- that is, not because of his behavior but because the teacher or the officer assumed he would be more dangerous because he had a designation -- then it's a civil rights issue, which is, as I remember, a federal case.

    Sooner or later this kind of stuff has to go before the courts.

  4. Of course it's an outrage, but, then I've come to expect outrageous behavior from school districts. (Really makes you wonder WHO needs the "behavior support plan".)

    Once again, autistics have no rights that a school district is bound to respect.

  5. In a self policing society no-one could act like that, neither teacher nor police, because alike as equal citizens they would know that they would get the living crap beaten out of them if they behaved so outrageously, What was your rebellion against the British for?

    You have the right to bear arms, yet you are not free!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I've worked with students with severe emotional / behaviour problems, and I will say that I have seen the SRO (school resource officer, a police officer assigned to a secondary school) handcuff a couple students.

    In those cases, the student was attacking staff members or peers and would not calm down AND the student would not follow directions by staff and the SRO to stop the dangerous behavior.

    Before the SRO is called in, the student is always given the opportunity to calm down (with the targets of their aggression having gone elsewhere); usually the emotional storm passes and the student can then rationally discuss the situation.

    Calling the SRO is a last resort to prevent the student or anyone else from harm.

    SINGING is not harming anyone! That kind of response is way over the top. It is a reaction, not a pre-planned action, as evidenced by contradiction to the IEP BIP. Calling in the police because the gym teacher is frustrated (or whatever) is really poor practice.


  7. What is wrong with people?!?!

  8. Whren I first read that, I didn't quite believe it. There must have been something his parents weren't saying. Maybe he was singing a racist or obscene song?
    Then my friend told me how she was hit in the leg for hand-flapping. I just don't get it.

  9. This is not only stupid, it's also a frightening example of the way authority has gone on the offensive against any kind of presumed threat to itself. This kind of thing always starts small, and happens to people who don't matter to anyone else. Then, when we have gotten used to this absurdity, it happens to everyone else and no one says a word.
    Emmigrate while you can.

  10. Don't emigrate. Home educate.

  11. What about the safety of the 31st child in that class? Nobody at the school seems worried about him at all. His dignity, his physical safety (handcuffs?), his emotional well being. Good Lord. Singing? Really? I find it interesting how the words "unacceptable behaviour" get waved around for almost everything these days. I've used those words with my son, aged 5, but only if he was doing something that would seriously harm himself or others.

  12. He wasn't handcuffed for singing. He was handcuffed because he wasn't a little sheep - he didn't do as he was told because it made no sense.

    For some reason la la la was more aggravating to the gym teacher than the rest of the noise. I bet some of the kids were rooting for him.

    What is wrong with people.

  13. I am glad my school doesn't have handcuffs around (or at least hasn't used them). I have been numerously removed forcibly from classrooms for harmless things.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, while in the independent study room where people who work in special services are the teachers, I was sitting in the classroom, spinning in my chair. I was made to leave the room, and my mom was called in from work to take me home. I was not even informed of this until she arrived!

    That is only the most recent absurd incident. How can a non-squeaking chair possibly be justified as "disruptive" behavior, and then grounds for forcible removal from class? Much like that, how does singing possibly justify forced removal and treatment like a criminal?

  14. Most schools and universities teach us to be good compliant sheep. Celebrate independence!


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