Alright – so, I have written and will continue to write about my experience with Jefferson High School in Bloomington Public Schools. My son who has nonverbal autism was suspended by Principal Jaysen, teacher Kelly Morris and Special Director Jennifer McIntyre for having a behavior that was caused by the teacher for disrupting his daily routine. Additionally, the teacher denied my child his voice by not giving him his communication device thereby violating his civil rights. As a mom and as you can imagine, I was devastated. How can anyone suspend five days a child who can’t even talk back at them, understand what the heck suspension is nor comprehend cause/effect? If Bloomington Public Schools can do this to a child like mine, imagine how they treat other minority children. It turns out this district has a horrible disparity record and disproportionately suspends students of color.
The big question now is – what can be done about it so that they don’t keep creating these horrible statistics, what do current laws and policies say about suspending students with disabilities, and what happens to principals, teachers and administrators who create such discriminatory stats? Well – I am finding out that one of the main reasons educators like Jaysen, Kelly and Jennifer keep doing what they have done for years is because current laws and policies protect them. It is easier to suspend and/or expel a minority student than suspend or fire a white teacher. I kid you not. Here comes the hard part or maybe the easy part – what can we parents do about this. How do we advocate for a meaningful change that stops this blatant discrimination? First, let me explain what disparity or disproportionately suspending and failing students of color is. Every parent wants their child to succeed and learn in school. Children go to school to learn, be nurtured, to succeed, and to be supported. It is how their teachers, principals and administrators do their job in teaching, supporting and nurturing the children that create differential treatments which create disparities. In other words, when a white child does something wrong, a white teacher and administrator are more likely to support and help that student learn right from wrong by giving them advice, maybe doing in school suspension, calling their parents and helping them, etc. By the same token, when a minority student does something wrong, the same white teacher and administrators are more likely to suspend out of school or expel the minority child. This is what creates disparity. It is the differential treatment our children get by mostly non-minority educators. This is also discrimination that is often subtle and passive-aggressive. This type of differential treatment created the huge gap Minnesota has in suspension, graduation, expulsion so on and so forth.
As I said, current laws protect the educators more than they protect the students. I for one am determined to change this so that another child and family does not endure the pain and heartache we have endured.
I filed a complaint against Jefferson high school principal, Jaysen for violating some of his licensing board’s code of ethics which is the only thing I can do now based on current laws. Below is the licensing board for school principal’s response. As you can see Jaysen did not even get a slap on the wrist. So, why should he do any better next time? If people like this principal don’t get fired, suspended, etc. they are not going to do better for our children. Jaysen will more likely suspend more nonverbal autistic children, more minority students and will get away with it. Unless of course, we change the statute that governs this board, the rules for it and make this board more diverse by advocating the folks that appoint them. In other words, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results which is what I told this board in my response to their response.
Sept. 13, 2018
As you already know, the purpose of the Board of School Administrators is to ensure the highest professional standards of administrators through licensure, approval of preparation programs, rules for continuing education, and adopting, by rule, a code of ethics covering standards of professional practice, including ethical conduct, professional performance, and methods of enforcement. The Code of Ethics is found in Minnesota Administrative Rule 3512.5200.
The board has created a special committee of its membership called the Ethics Committee for the purposes of impartially examining complaints that involve possible violations of the Code of Ethics. The Committee is made up of seasoned and tested educators who have been appointed to the board by the governor for their commitment to due process, to justice, and a deep resolve to be honest at all levels. Claims of misconduct are investigated and considered individually to determine if there is sufficient factual evidence to support the claim. When investigating complaints, Minnesota Administrative Rule 3512.5200, Subp. 4, mandates a due process for administrators by allowing them to be “represented by the administrator’s own counsel or representative at each stage of the investigation and hearing.”
Ethics Committee sessions are closed to the public. If the Ethics Committee concludes that a complaint does not merit an inquiry, the case is closed and is not moved forward. If the Committee finds sufficient evidence to conduct an inquiry, the affected administrator will be asked to provide the Committee with their account of the matter. Typically, the accused responds with the advice and counsel
of an attorney. After weighing all of the evidence, the Ethics Committee determines if there has been a violation of Minnesota Statute 122A or the Code of Ethics. If so, the Committee recommends penalties to the full board. If the Committee concludes there has not been a violation, the case is closed and the administrator remains licensed. The information you have provided to the Board is classified as private data pursuant to the Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes Sections 13.04, subd. 2 and 13.41, subd. 2. Such information is for the use of the board’s staff and the Attorney General’s Office in evaluating your complaint. At the Sept. 10, 2018, meeting, the Ethics Committee carefully reviewed the information provided to it related to the complaints against Jaysen Anderson and the potential violation of the Code of Ethics for School Administrators outlined in Minnesota Statute 12.z.A and Minnesota Rule 3512.5200. After examining all of the evidence, the Committee has concluded that Mr. Anderson remains a licensed school administrator. Although I am severely limited by the Minnesota Data Privacy Act on what I can share with you pertaining to your complaint, I did want to let you know that at the meeting, the Ethics Committee did, as we do for most of the administrators we work with, offer some ideas to Mr. Anderson to consider as he strives for continuous improvement.
As you know, the Board of School Administrators does not have the authority to change an administrators ‘ employment status or force a district to take certain employment-related disciplinary action against a licensed administrator. The Committee recognizes the difficulty of understanding the fine line between questionable decision-making by administrators which is governed by the local school board (for charter schools, it’s the school board and the authorizers) and substantiated ethical violations which are under the Board of School Administrators ‘ jurisdiction.
With respect to ethical violations, the Committee considers this matter closed. Please know that I am very sorry that I am unable to share additional information about the Ethics Com committee’s decision or its deliberations due to the Minnesota Data Privacy Act. I know you care deeply about the education in your community. While this decision is not perhaps what you had hoped, I can assure you that this process and the attention brought to the issue you raised, almost
always helps administrators make improvements which, in the final analysis, helps make schools better for Minnesota school children.
Thank you for contacting the Board of School Administrators.
Students with autism are sadly suspended, segregated and mistreated by many school districts and we need to fight this via policy advocacy and through the courts.
Data from The National Autism Center
Abuse of children with special needs in public schools
Special education teacher accused of abusing nonverbal students. This is heartbreaking to me as my son has nonverbal autism and I have been told that his paraprofessionals have neglected him while his teacher did nothing and in one occasion denied him his communication device.
Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom & Advocate