Over the last month, former employees, students and parents have been testifying to Dr. Sue Bridge, OPRF superintendent; to Phil Prale, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction; and to TEAM parents regarding charges of physical abuse, verbal abuse, and neglect of students in the TEAM program. TEAM is the high school’s self-contained program for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

These are some of the reasons for the mistreatment:

? There is no direction from Special Ed leadership on the importance of treating TEAM students at all times with respect and dignity.

? There are apparently no effective behavior plans for students with problem behaviors.

? Aides have received little training.

There is a crisis of leadership. Many TEAM parents do not feel the Special Ed administration can effectively deal with this complex, sensitive issue. There is a lack of trust in the present administration:

? When a parent witnessed mistreatment of a TEAM student and reported it to the TEAM chair, the mistreatment was not effectively addressed. The parent felt that the administration supported the staff, rather than the student.

? There has been a pattern of keeping parents and outside therapists out of TEAM.

? In three situations where parents and administrators reached resolution on an issue, the administrators worked behind the scenes to sabotage the resolution.

? The “independent” evaluation of the TEAM program by the University of Wisconsin consultant in 2004 was edited in ways favorable to TEAM. We compared the first draft to the final copy.

Join with us on Thursday, April 21, so that your presence helps us make a strong statement that the Oak Park and River Forest community will not tolerate the mistreatment of our most vulnerable students.

Carolyn Effgen
Oak Park

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