Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Aspies are Coming! The Aspies are Coming! Circling the Wagons in Ft. Smith, AS

Bump and update: A lot more about the incestuous relationship between the school district and local news coverage appeared in the last couple of days.

A disturbing issue arises from this email. Zakh is a juvenile, a minor. This anchor/reporter alleges that "very reliable sources" gave him federally protected, privileged medical and education information about this boy. Given this disturbing inference, I contacted the reporter myself... 
And a torrent of  "explanations" from said reporter (whom I presume to be Darren Bobb) ensues, including an abusurd statement that his "very reliable sources" amounted to Google. It's quite long and you should read the whole thing from the horse's mouth. But this part seized my attention:
 I note here for the benefit of the reader that according to Carole Reynolds and other sources, the reporter's wife is a special-education teacher in the district. The reporter himself, as he notes, has been working in that capacity in Fort Smith for 25 years. He states emphatically in another forum that he did not get any information from his wife.

Need I observe that it is an obvious conflict of interest for this reporter to be involved in this story?

It leads to such confusion. Should I now assume he's lying about having the information he claimed to have in his email, lying about where he got it or some of each?

And of course, the same confusion - due to this very conflict of interest between school district and media - now applies to any statements made by the school. One is confused as from where the information comes, and what "confidentiality" means when it's cited to forestall questions.

It's really quite difficult to respect an authority that does not behave respectably. Oddly enough, it goes to character.

Meanwhile, in the realm of reality where cause follows effect:

"PRESS RELEASE: A Due Process Hearing Complaint against the Fort Smith School District has been lodged with the Arkansas Department of Education regarding the District's failure to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education for Zakh and the District's circumvention of the IDEA. We are currently awaiting the assignment ...of an Impartial Hearing Officer and the scheduling date for the Due Process Hearing which the ADE should be issuing today."


---original post follows---

Autistics and small towns do not seem to mix well. I'd rather expect that some degree of plain old xenophobia is part of the reaction to Zakhqurey Price and his large family.

I've seen similar things. Hell, I grew up as a similar percieved thing, which explains part of my interest in the case. Other parents and adult autistic-spectrum people are interested because they have gone through it on behalf of a child. We've gone through both.

With the grace of God and a good lawyer, it may soon be possible to move the whole family to a jurisdiction where the term Free and Appropriate Public Education is clearly understood.

The following is cross-posted from the Southwest Times Record's facebook page,  one of dozens from all over the world from people who are quite shocked to see that this story is not getting any local coverage.

There's also a new topic started at channel five, asking about the redaction of their coverage. (Bets on how long that stays up?)

I'm an independent journalist and my wife is a former Special Ed Teacher. We are both shocked at the lapses in professional standards here. From the record, it appears that local "personality" Daren Bobb of channel 5 has somehow inserted himself into the story.

Look up your old Journo 101 texts. This is a large No-No. ...That would be quite aside from the possibility that Bobb might be wittingly or unwittingly furthering a cover-up of a series of actions that from an outside perspective, look very much as if they are in furtherance of illegal actions. Not just "violations of professional standards" - although they are. Blatantly so. I could make a case for this amounting to a civil rights violation.

I mean, conspiracy to create circumstances that permit the false imprisonment of a child in order to fraudulently place this (expensive) child on the Medicaid budget? I think it would be possible to argue that position well enough to justify an investigation to determine the facts of the matter.

My wife (special ed teacher of 20 years) wrote a detailed comment about the legal reality of special ed on the linked article.

This is the sort of thing that makes each and every person at the school who participated in this travesty personally and collectively liable, along with the school district (and you, the taxpayer) for amounts that could easily end up in the millions. Easily. It's happened before, with far less provocation.

And I would have thought you would have been curious when the initial story run on channel 5 simply vanished, along with the comment threads.

Did they not mention to you in the first year of journalism that when some fat cat says, "nothing to see here, move along now," there is something to see, and you only move along if you don't have your camera?

Now. How often do local newspapers ever get to participate in a suddenly breaking national story?

Ladies and gentlemen - this is YOUR Sarah Palin.

My wife commented on my earlier story about Zakh's situation with the following, which I referred to above. 

Wampus 12:28 PM  

This case is amazing in so many ways. I was a special ed. teacher for 20 years... basically from its inception, in the U.S. any way. It's an odd beast, special ed. It is entirely based upon legal action. It began when 10 moms of children with Down's Syndrome wanted their kids to be allowed to go to school... they sued for the right, and won. A bazillion law suits later, we have special ed, as it is known in the U.S. Virtually every development of special ed policy, procedure, ideology, etc, has been a result of legal action.

That being said, this case shows so many abuses... sigh...

The standard of confidentiality in regards to a special ed. student and information about them is as strict as that of a medical dr's... so some reporter having access to that information is unbelievable! The child, the guardians, are supposed to have absolute control over who has access to that information. Within the school setting, the special ed. teacher is supposed to guard that information. Only personel who provide DIRECT services to the student are to be given information regarding that student. And THEY are to log in, so as to keep a record of who knows what, when... One simply does not have casual conversation regarding these issues... In fact, in order for a school to get a special ed. file (if a student moves, for example) they must obtain written permission from the guardian. And the 'sending school' cannot even confirm whether or not a particular child IS classified as special ed, without this written document.

Now, the excuse that this child has only been in the school for 3 months, as reason for denying appropriate services is INSANE. When a student moves to a new school, that school has (legally speaking) ZERO time to implement a "temporary" IEP, and 30 calendar days to complete any needed information gathering, WHILE providing services to the student, at which point (within 30 calendar days) they must hold a full, complete IEP, and provide the services determined by that IEP immediately. "Waiting" is failure to provide a free appropriate public education, and is a huge NO NO.

Now, as to the idea that this child's label matters... whether or not he has been diagnosed with this or that or nothing at all, completely irrelevant as far as schooling goes. Diagnoses are medical. They may or may not effect school stuff. The label the school has for him (0/d i think?) is also irrelevant! The point to labeling a child in school is only for the purpose of obtaining funding. It in NO way affects the placement or services the school provides. Once a child is deemed to be 'disabled'... once they have a label (ANY label).... the IEP process determines... FIRST what are the needs of this child... SECOND what supports does the child NEED to have success in the realm of school... (academic, social, behavioral, yadda yadda... all around success) Third, how are we going to provide that support... fourth, what else can we do to be of help (related services) and LAST... based upon the needs and the plan for meeting those needs... WHERE will we provide those supports....

None of this is determined by the label, OR by the cost, OR by what's available at the school... that's all details to be hashed out later...

So, this school appears to have it wrong in every possible way!


it makes me tired.

From my appreciation of my wife's case load (literally by hauling plastic crates of IEP folders) - there is a simple test to see if this case has been properly managed. 

Is it less than four inches thick? If it's less than four inches thick, it's likely a problem. If it's in a simple manila folder and not an expansion file, something is badly wrong.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Long Live The Queen!

Pink is to Freddy Mercury what kd lang is to Roy Orbison

Has Pink ever done Floyd?

The Telegraph Blows Our Secret Identity

The country the world forgot - again - Telegraph

[I]ts purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10 per cent of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the "British". The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world.

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign which the US had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and film-makers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer British. It is as if in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakeably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Think nothing of it. We're Canadians. That's what we do. Now, please; we maintain the secret identity for a reason.

...most of us don't look that good in tights.

Abused and Refused: Zakhqurey Price denied rights under IDEA

UPDATE Jan 11:  Please jump straight to the comments and read the entry by Wampus, my lovely and never-sucessfully-sued-for-cause retired Special Ed Teacher and wife, in regard to standards of confidentiality, labeling and provision of services.

Bump and Update: January 10: Compiled from comments and any other sources I can find.

One of the most interesting developments is that the story on local news channel 5 has been deleted, along with all discussion; I assume that to be in part due to this information being leaked/circulated by the reporter.

This was posted all over the place by Zakh's grandma.

Zakh's grandma here

Hello everyone,
There is a VICIOUS email be sent to thousands by a prominent LOCAL TV REPORTER that is full of lies. He posted it before talking with me....and when he DID talk to me tonight he didn't mention his bulk email blitz against me!
Here it is:
Good ol boy is alive and well!
Please pass along to everyone!
Subject: Email from Darren Bob
Greetings.. I'm wondering how much you have looked into this. I have very
reliable sources that tell me this child has never been diagnosed with Autism.
The Grandmother who is taking care of the child wants a diagnosis, but can find
noone who will do that. In fact, the child HAS BEEN diagnosed as oppositional
defiant .. and that he has been in the juvenile court system for the past three
years because of his behavior. He's only been at this particular school for
three months. I understand there is going to be a court hearing on this
situation next week sometime ( still trying to track that down ) in which I'm
sure more > details will come out.>> That's it .. that's all I know .. hope you
can help me with more info..!!>>>> Daren Bobb> KFSM TV-5> Fort Smith, Ark.>
Then the story vanished from Channel 5 (no results for any query related to Zach from internal search at all) and the associated discussion was deleted. Mind you, it's rather clear which way it was headed, according to the truncated image Google has of it. It started hateful and went downhill from there.

The deletion didn't go over well with one user, who protested. That TOO was deleted - but after Google had indexed it. Here's the Google Cache link.

My Google-Fu is failing me at the moment; I can't seem to find a cache of the original story. Please drop a comment if you have a link. 

At any rate, the email seems to raise some important questions for me. Darren Bob's "Very Reliable Sources." You see, the "source" would have to have access to Zachs Special Ed folder, unless, of course Darren Bobb was just making stuff up, or accepting the word of someone who was making stuff up.

Disclosing information from that folder to anyone who does not have direct involvement - parents and persons directly providing services to the child - is very freaking illegal. 

So Darren Bob is doing something that is apparently illegal, unethical or incompetent. This is aside from the journalistic ethics issues centering around the idea of taking part in such a dispute.

Any single one of those issues is a "please clear out your desk, security will see you to the door" issue at a reputable media outlet. Of course, Darrin Bobb was formerly a  host on a Clear-Channel radio station; it's quite possible he's unfamiliar with the standards of journalistic objectivity I was taught in college. (Or I could just be exhibiting my own bias - but the sin ain't having one, it's pretending you don't have one.)

Fort Smith Radio Host Headed to KFSM

This from an e-mailer: "KWHN-AM morning host Darren Bobb is headed to KFSM-TV. The following job posting came from KWHN Program Director Gary Elmore (his partner on "Arklahoma AM")

We have a rare opening at KWHN as our current co-host has gone on to become anchor and managing editor for the CBS TV affiliate in town.
Therefore, Clear Channel Fort Smith, Arkansas is looking for a Morning co-host for our top rated news talk station, KWHN. Duties also include Assistant PD, remote broadcasts, and commercial production, plus. If you are a team player, please send demo, references and resume to

Clear Channel Radio is an equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Looks like he'll slide alongside Bridget at 5, 6, and 10."

Still, one would expect some modification or restatement of the story. Instead, we see a rather inept cover-up, from which observers can and will no doubt derive their own conclusions regarding media and morality in Arkansas.

This You tube video was created and submitted by user ksol1460

This video contains clips from Carole Reynold's Blogtalkradio article.

Legal council has been found but we are still short of the $5000 required for the retainer.

Zakh Price Legal Trust Fund, C/O Niswanger Law Firm, #5 Innwood Circle, Suite 110, Little Rock, Arkansas 72211

Updated Ends;

This is sort of an urgent situation - more urgent than I'd realized - so I'm cobbling it together from other sources.

A Sad Story, and a Call to Action
If you listen to anything autism- or disability- related today, listen to this interview with Carole Reynolds, whose 11-year old autistic grandson Zakhquerey Price is facing felony charges for allegedly injuring two staff members at Beard Elementary (Fort Smith, AK) while said staff members were trying to restrain him.
Zakh's story is really heartbreaking, and demonstrates so many problems with public education, the system of mental institutionalization, and criminal justice system.
Zakh has already faced years of forced institutionalization, including during a period in which he and his family mourn the loss of his sister. Now, he faces criminal charges without adequate legal representation. His family cannot afford a private lawyer, and the public defender assigned to his case does not know much about autism. With the current situation, there is a strong chance that Zakh will be institutionalized against the will of his familyagain. Zakh has already faced years of institutionalization due to a school system which wants to not educate him. He has also been institutionalized during a period in which he and his family are mourning for his younger sister, who died during his period of incarceration in mental institutions.
What can we do to help?
You can donate to Zakh's family so that they might obtain adequate legal representation.
You can contact media outlets about this situation.
You can join the Facebook group to follow the situation and see what else we can do to help Zakh and his family.
This is urgent. Zakh's case is on January 12.

Comments threads over at Autism Women's Network indicate that the Fort Smith Community Of People Who Are In Charge And Who Know Better Than You Do are discomfited by the sudden attention.

More on this over here.

From what I can see so far, it appears that a small town school does not know how to comply with the laws requiring them to provide a "Free And Appropriate Education." And rather than find out, they have apparently done things that at the very least raise the issue that they may have been abusing the Medicaid system.  I'd want to know if shuffling kids off the Special Ed budget and onto the Medicaid budget was a common practice. I mean, aside from the involuntary detainment aspects. Those are merely questions of civil, human and family rights, and there is that well-known "autism" exception to the Constitution.

Oh, wait.

(Note: corrected a misunderstanding on my part that Zakh had been incarcerated on the Medicare dime when it was apparently Medicaid-funded. I can never keep those two straight in my head...)

Please help keep this page up to date!

Any information you have can be added here, as well as in the comments.

in reference to:

- Graphictruth: Abused and Refused: Zakhqurey Price denied rights under IDEA (view on Google Sidewiki)


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