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ACTION ALERT: Autistic Six-Year-Old Charged with Assault

Please Distribute Immediately

Hello friends and fellow activists, self-advocates and others,

Some of you may have heard by now of an extremely concerning incident in Kentucky that has attracted attention throughout the autistic, autism and general disability communities. For those of you who haven’t, the details are as follows. Nathan Darnell, a six-year old autistic student at Taylor Elementary School in Bracken County, Kentucky, has been charged with fourth-degree assault for pushing a school aide. Nathan has a juvenile judicial hearing scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, September 25th. The charges were brought at the instigation of the school aide, a Ms. Glinda Schiltz. While we typically avoid getting involved in judicial proceedings, it is our feeling that the overreaction is so egregious as to require activism by the wider disability community. There is no reason why a six-year old child should face criminal charges over this – according to the information currently available, the aide did not require medical attention and was not injured. Moreover, there have been past instances of misconduct by school employees towards Nathan, specifically an incident in which a bus driver dragged him and slammed him into his seat, causing bruising (the parents have been denied access to the video of this instance by the school district). More information can be found in the local news article below:

http://www.maysville-online.com/articles/2007/09/19/local_news/2067autismcase.txt

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone reading this message to use the contact information below to express your concern over the course of action the aide has chosen to take, namely to pursue legal action against Nathan. Despite the short notice – once again, the hearing is tomorrow – showing that this case is generating national attention would be an important step in ensuring that Nathan’s rights are protected and possibly convincing Ms. Schiltz to drop the charges. In addition, please take a moment to remind the authorities in question of the school’s responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as well as of basic common sense. That a six-year old on or off the autism spectrum is in the docket on an assault charge is ridiculous. Given that he is one of our own, I hope we can work together to respond.

Contact Information for:

The aide pressing charges:
Glinda Schiltz
gschiltz@bracken.k12.ky.us

Note: It is important to stress that any e-mails that you send on this issue – particularly to the aide –should be civil. As outraged as we all are, giving the impression that we are harassing the people involved in this would not serve anybody’s interests, least of all those of the child in question. As such, I would encourage you to focus your e-mail on convincing Ms. Schiltz to drop her charges by educating her about the autism spectrum and the need for more effective supports and accommodations in schools. Abusive language and harassment are not in any way condoned and could have very negative repercussions for the person doing the writing and for the people we are trying to defend.

The School Superintendent:
Phone (606) 735-2523
Fax (606) 735-3640
Ask to speak with Mr. Tony Johnson, Superintendent
tjohnson@Bracken.k12.ky.us

The Board of Education:
E. Lawton Ulrich, Board of Education Chairman
(606) 756-2295

Gregory Jones, Board of Education Vice Chairman
(606) 747-5389

The School:
Taylor Elementary School
Phone (606) 735-2169
Fax (606) 735-2058
Ask to speak with Raye Jean Hopper, Principal
rhopper@bracken.k12.ky.us

With luck, our calls and e-mails will make a difference. Please act today.

Regards,

Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Update: The charges against Nathan Darnell have been dropped. Thank you to all who contacted the Bracken County School System.

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