Last Update: 1/16/2018         Contact      Links Page    Research Page     Archived pages

Thousands of starfish had washed ashore.
A little girl began throwing them in the water so they wouldn't die.
"Don't bother, dear" her mother said,
"it won't really make any difference."
The girl stopped for a moment and looked at the starfish in her hand.

"It will make a difference to this one."

(With permission: Domini Social Investments)

January 2018  NOTE:  Keep the faith. I *will*  get site redesign done. Meanwhile I will make changes here and there to this site.

I will be ugrading this website over the next few months. The site has been up for many years and the software tools that I originally used to edit and add content are a bit out of date.

The goal is to once again make this site relevant for the many parents of disabled persons and for the many caregivers of disabled persons.

My son, Matthew, is now 34 years old and still lives with me. Matt remains a healthy, happy person. A real joy and a reminder every day that life - even with disabilities - can be a wonderous thing.

Thanks to those who have recommended content and links to resources. I will be including your ideas as we build the new site.

Existing site content will not be lost. It will be included in the new site design.

If you have content or subject suggestions for the site, please let me know via email.    Contact

Dave Thompson


January 16, 2018

Kids were denied special ed services because of state’s 'dereliction of duty,' not schools', Texas administrators say

Eva-Marie Ayala, Staff Writer    The Dallas Morning News  January 16, 2018


Kids were denied special ed services because of state's "dereliction of duty," not schools,' Texas administrators say.

Texas educators are pushing back against Gov. Greg Abbott's assertion that children were denied special education services because of schools' "dereliction of duty."

Last week, federal authorities found that schools across the state broke the law by intentionally delaying or denying students such programs in order to stay under perceived enrollment caps and avoid state scrutiny.


December 9, 2017

Willing, Able and Forgotten: How High Schools Fail Special Ed Students

"Up to 90 percent of students with disabilities are capable of graduating high school fully prepared to tackle college or a career if they receive proper support along the way. Only 65 percent graduate on time. Those that do cross the finish line often aren’t ready for the next step."

THE HECHINGER REPORT  "Covering Innovation & Inequality in Education""



October 30, 2017

The Police Need to Understand Autism

Opinion | Op-Ed Contributor  The New York Times

Diane Craglow was caring for a 14-year-old autistic boy named Connor Leibel in Buckeye, Ariz., one day in July. They took a walk to one of his favorite places, a park in an upscale community called Verrado.


more officers arrived, spilling out of eight patrol cars in response to Officer Grossman’s frantic call for backup. Soon it became clear to Ms. Craglow that the policeman was unaware that Connor has autism


October 21, 2017

DeVos rescinds 72 guidance documents outlining rights for disabled students

"The Education Department has rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate regulations it deems superfluous."

By Moriah Balingit October 21 at 12:12 PM   The Washington Post


Note: Most of the links below to The Dallas Morning News stories are no longer active (don't work). I am removing the underlying links that do not work, but leaving the story headlines (July 27, 2014)

August 29, 2014

In Tarrant County, a federal lawsuit filed over Mansfield ISD elementarys calm rooms' for developmentally disabled

Disability Rights Texas is suing the Mansfield school district over its use of the blue rooms. In a federal lawsuit filed Austin-based federally funded advocacy organization says it has reasonable grounds to believe that students with disabilities subject to abuse or neglect.

By Robert Wilonsk August 29, 2014  The Dallas Morning News


December 12, 2011

Autism boom: an epidemic of disease or of discovery?

By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times

December 11, 2011   First of four parts

Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation, stirring parents' deepest fears and prompting a search for answers. But what if the upsurge is not what it appears to be?


Warrior parents fare best in securing autism services

By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times

December 13, 2011   Second of four parts

Public spending on children with autism in California varies greatly by race and class. A major reason: Not all families have the means to battle for coveted assistance.


Families cling to hope of autism 'recovery'

By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times

December 15, 2011   Third of four parts

An autism treatment called applied behavior analysis, or ABA, has wide support and has grown into a profitable business. It has its limits, though, and there are gaps in the science.


Autism hidden in plain sight

By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times

December 16, 2011   Last of four parts

As more children are diagnosed with autism, researchers are trying to find unrecognized cases of the disorder in adults. The search for the missing millions is just beginning.


October 24, 2011

Perry Downplayed Allegations at Centers for Disabled

by Emily Ramshaw The Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign hinges on one overarching message: that states perform best when left to their own devices and federal regulators should butt out. Yet during his decade-long tenure in the governor’s office, Perry and his staff repeatedly downplayed the severity of abuse and neglect allegations at Texas’ state-run institutions for the disabled — until conditions became so dire that the U.S. attorney general was forced to intervene....


October 23, 2011

Despite Reforms, Abuse Continues at Texas Institutions for Disabled

MEXIA — At the Mexia State Supported Living Center, on the sun-bleached site of a former World War II prisoner-of-war camp an hour east of Waco, residents with profound disabilities and behavioral problems spend their days doing repetitive chores: sticking paper into shredders, folding towels, sorting nuts from bolts. And, in some cases, being physically abused, despite a sweeping federal settlement signed in 2009 to prevent it....


January 6, 2011

British Medical Journal: Report Linking Vaccine to Autism Was Fraudluent

AP/The Huffington Post

LONDON -- The first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research...

BMJ Editorial: Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autsim was fraudulent

BMJ 2011; 342:c7452 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7452 (Published 5 January 2011)

How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed

Brian Deer, journalist

BMJ 2011; 342:c5347 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5347 (Published 5 January 2011)


November 9, 2010

After Monitor Departs, A Teenager Is Killed

Emily Ramshaw, The Texas Tribune and Terri Langford, Houston Chronicle

An emotionally troubled 16-year-old living in a Manvel residential treatment center died after a restraint was applied in a closet by a staffer — just four days after the home was placed on probation by the state, The Texas Tribune and the Houston Chronicle have learned...


June 6, 2010

Forced to Fight

Emily Ramshaw, The Texas Tribune and Terri Langford, Houston Chronicle

Workers at a center for distressed children provoked seven developmentally disabled girls into a fight of biting and bruising, while they laughed, cheered and promised the winners a precious prize: after-school snacks ....


April 24, 2010

Boy found near Wylie pond identified; grandmother arrested

12:46 AM CDT on Saturday, April 24, 2010
By VALERIE WIGGLESWORTH / The Dallas Morning News

After eight days, he has a name: Gerren Joseph Isgrigg.

Late Friday, Wylie investigators confirmed the identity of the 6-year-old whose body was found by a mowing crew April 15 near a Collin County pond.


April 17, 2010

Wylie police released this illustration on Friday in hopes of identifying a boy whose body was found Thursday at East Fork Park near Lavon Lake.

Wylie police, volunteers seek anyone who might be able to identify boy

03:35 PM CDT on Saturday, April 17, 2010
By JON NIELSEN / The Dallas Morning News



August 29, 2009

Tarrant County medical examiner rules young man's Taser death a homicide

Friday, Aug. 28, 2009  Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH — The Tarrant County medical examiner ruled Thursday that the death of a mentally ill man in April who was shocked twice by a Taser stun gun wielded by a Fort Worth police officer was a homicide...


August 25, 2009

Lubbock State School staff body-slammed, choked man on day he died, mother says

August 25, 2009  The Dallas Morning News

LUBBOCK – The mother of a 45-year-old mentally disabled man whose death at a state-run home was ruled a homicide said Monday that her son was body-slammed against a bed and choked with a towel until he was blue...


August 15, 2009

Jury convicts defendant in Corpus Christi State School 'fight club' case

August 13, 2009  The Dallas Morning News

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas– A former state employee responsible for some of Texas' most vulnerable residents was convicted Thursday of injuring them, during orchestrated fights at a state facility for the developmentally disabled. ...


August 11, 2009

Students With Disabilities More Likely To Face Physical Punishment In School

Huffington Post
First Posted: 08-10-09 07:51 PM

The ACLU and Human Rights Watch released a disturbing report today which claims that "students with disabilities face corporal punishment in public schools at disproportionately high rates ...

Disabled Students Are Spanked More

The New York Times

Published: August 10, 2009

...Among the cases cited in the report was that of a 6-year-old, first-grade boy with autism, who was paddled at his Mississippi elementary school. An assistant principal who the report described as weighing 300 pounds “picked up an inch-thick paddle and paddled him” on the buttocks, the report said....

Impairing Education 
Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in US Public Schools
August 10, 2009

In this 70-page report, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch found that students with disabilities made up 18.8 percent of students who suffered corporal punishment at school during the 2006-2007 school year, although they constituted just 13.7 percent of the total nationwide student population. At least 41,972 students with disabilities were subjected to corporal punishment in US schools during that year. These numbers probably undercount the actual rate of physical discipline, since not all instances are reported or recorded.


July 26, 2009

Hiring directive at Texas state schools may be tough to satisfy

11:36 PM CDT on Saturday, July 25, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW/ The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – A legal settlement with the U.S. Justice Department to prevent abuse and neglect inside Texas' state schools for the mentally disabled includes a clear directive: Hire nearly 1,100 new employees.

But that won't be easy...


July 16, 2009

Advocates for the disabled say settlement agreement to improve state schools doesn't do enough

03:07 PM CDT on Thursday, July 16, 2009
By EMILY RAMSHAW/ The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – A settlement agreement Texas officials signed with the U.S. Justice Department to improve conditions at the state schools for the disabled doesn’t do enough to move people out of institutions and into the community, advocates for the disabled said Thursday...

June 30, 2009

Former Allen teacher accused of burning disabled boy with cooking pan

07:41 AM CDT on Tuesday, June 30, 2009

By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

A longtime Allen teacher stands accused of using a cooking pan to burn the buttocks of a 14-year-old disabled boy in early 2008...


June 5, 2009

Advocates pleased with disability services gains in Legislature

06:56 AM CDT on Thursday, June 4, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Faced with dangerous conditions inside Texas' institutions for the mentally disabled and a massive waiting list for community-based care, lawmakers didn't pick sides – they improved both....



Texas agency agrees to $112 million settlement to improve schools for disabled

01:14 PM CDT on Friday, May 22, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – The agency that oversees the state schools for the disabled must hire more than 1,000 new direct care workers and drastically improve living conditions at the facilities, under a $112-million, 5-year settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice....


May 20, 2009

Cellphone video shows Corpus Christi State School 'fight club'

04:35 PM CDT on Tuesday, May 19, 2009  The Dallas Morning News

Attorneys for the family of a Corpus Christi State School resident have released some of the cellphone camera footage that led to the arrest and indictment of six employees on charges that they forced mentally disabled residents to fight each other....

Hearing Airs Horror Stories on Abuse of School Kids

by Christina Jewett , ProPublica - May 19, 2009 1:29 pm EDT

The Government Accountability Office presented [members of Congress] with horror stories of another kind: One teacher duct-taped children to a chair. Another put kids as young as 6 years old in strangleholds. Another killed a student by sitting on him, and then continued teaching in another state.

GAO Report:


Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers



May 19, 2009

'Fight club' only one facet of abuse at Corpus Christi state school for disabled

12:51 AM CDT on Tuesday, May 19, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

...a Dallas Morning News review of state termination records shows at least 40 Corpus Christi State School employees were fired or forced to resign for abusing or neglecting residents in the last four years...


May 18, 2009

Texas House approves measures to prevent abuse at state schools for disabled

05:17 PM CDT on Monday, May 18, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Texas services for people with disabilities, beset by allegations of abuse and neglect, would face far greater scrutiny and security under a measure the House gave early approval to on Monday....

Looks like the usual political window-dressing response to me. Rather than fixing the problem, Texas changes the name of the state schools to “state supported living centers.”  Oh, that's going to help Dave Thompson


April 28, 2009

Efforts to consolidate, close Texas state schools for disabled fail

09:59 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Efforts to start consolidating state schools for the mentally disabled in favor of community-based services crumbled Tuesday as lawmakers in both chambers agreed they would be unable to pass such sweeping legislation....



April 12, 2009

Texas state school workers were paid millions in overtime last year

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, April 12, 2009

By RYAN McNEILL and EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

State employees who care for Texans with profound disabilities were paid millions of dollars in overtime last year, in some cases working the equivalent of a month's worth of 13-hour days, according to a review of payroll data by The Dallas Morning News.


March 13, 2009

3 jailed, 3 more wanted in Corpus Christi State School 'fight club' case

11:21 AM CDT on Friday, March 13, 2009
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Corpus Christi police said today they have arrested three of six state workers accused of forcing mentally disabled state school residents into "fight club"-style brawls, the day after advocates came to the Capitol to protest the state's handling of the scandal...


The Texas State School system should be dismantled and replaced with community group homes. There should be complete funding for community-based group homes to include adequate staffing and access to community services such as health care. Professional oversight and inspections obviously should be integral to this process. - Dave Thompson


February 23, 2009

Legislature face-off at hand over Texas' schools for disabled

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News  Monday February 23, 2009

AUSTIN – The battle over how to care for profoundly disabled Texans begins in the Legislature today as lawmakers file a measure to drastically downsize the state school system and expand community living options. ...

If you live in Texas, contact your state representatives, both in the Texas House and Texas Senate. Please let them know that disabled persons are human beings no less than you or I, and that we are our brother's (and sister's) keeper. Support the closing of the abominable, inhuman Texas State Schools and complete funding for community-based group homes to include adequate staffing and access to community services such as health care. Support professional oversight and inspections.

The Texas legislature meets only every two years. It is important to let them them hear from parents and family members. It is important to let the members of the Texas legislature hear from friends of disabled persons, from friends of their families, and every one - every one - of us who cares about humanity of us all and the obligation, the duty, we hold to protect and ensure the rights of disabled persons to have a life of respect, dignity,  and care. - Dave Thompson - Feb 23, 2009

Link: Find your US and Texas representatives: Who Represents me?

Letter to State Senator Florence Shapiro - Dave Thompson February 25, 2009


February 8, 2009

Autism and MMR - London Sunday Times

Hidden records show MMR truth

A Sunday Times investigation has found that altered data was behind the decade-long scare over vaccination


Note: I've been seeing some good, investigative reporting from The News lately. Let me know if you have any problems with the story links. - Thanks - Dave Thompson

February 3, 2009

Governor declares overhaul of state schools a priority

EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry will declare protection of residents in state schools for the disabled a legislative emergency today, a move that follows reports of widespread abuse and neglect and a broad federal investigation into conditions at the facilities.....This measure will not address advocates' growing calls to close or consolidate the state schools.


Sounds like the usual political response: nothing about the humanity of the residents. - DLT 2/3/2009


New bill won't end debate over closing Texas state schools

03:54 PM CST on Tuesday, February 3, 2009
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News




January 13, 2009

Report on Lack of Regs for Restraint of Disabled Children

Disabled children in Sumner County, Tenn., were locked in four-by-three foot plywood cells that had been put together by maintenance staff at 12 district schools. An Oklahoma student with autism was led around his school wearing a harness and rope. Since 2002, three children -- including a 7-year-old girl -- have died as a result of being restrained in public and private schools, the report says. Another boy locked in a seclusion cell hanged himself with his makeshift belt.

Full report here: School is Not Supposed to Hurt: Investigative Report on Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools

Report by: National Disability Rights Network


See also the June 2007 report: Restraint & Seclusion in California Schools

Report by: Disability Rights California


December 8, 2008

Advocates debate ways to close some Texas schools for the disabled

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News  07:01 CST on Monday, December 8 , 2008

The politicians are back at it:

Despite the Justice Department and budget board reports, said Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, "I don't think we have definitive information" to justify closing any state schools yet.


December 2, 2008

Justice Department report blasts Texas' schools for the disabled

Key findings

In a recent 12-month period, at least 114 facility residents died

In the first nine months of this year,
school staff applied restraints 10,143 times, affecting 751 residents.

At least 200 staff members were fired for abuse or neglect of residents in each of two recent years ...

Facilities failed to monitor psychotropic drug prescriptions, leading one resident to take 10 different drugs at a time, and another who needed them not to take any – before hanging herself with a shoestring.

Of the more than 4,500 state school residents, only 164 were moved into community-based care in a recent 12-month period ...

NOTE: I will have more content up after I read the DOJ OCR report - Dave Thompson, December 2, 2008




12:16 PM CDT on Friday, August 22, 2008

Justice department to investigate all schools for disabled in Texas
AUSTIN  The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will investigate conditions
 inside all of Texas state schools for people with disabilities, a spokeswoman for the
 state agency that oversees the facilities confirmed on Friday ...
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

US DOJ Letter

Investigation of Texas State Facilities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities


May 4, 2008  Reports show systemic abuse at Texas' psychiatric hospitals
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News    11:56 PM CDT on Saturday, May 3, 2008 

May 20, 2008   Dozens fired from Texas psychiatric hospitals rehired for similar state jobs
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News    06:38 AM CDT on Tuesday, May 20, 2008
August 17, 2008   Some Texas foster kids' doctors have ties to drug firms
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News    11:20 AM CDT on Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 18, 2008   Conflict of interest fears halt children's mental health project
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News    06:30 AM CDT on Monday, August 18, 2008



June 27, 2006

7-year-old dies after being restrained by staff at Rice Lake, Wis., center

From  (Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse):


June 22, 2006

I am working on a piece for this. Meanwhile here is a story to follow:

Judge Rotenberg Center investigated for child torture

By Susan Lawrence, June 15, 2006


April 17, 2006

The 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing

Rick Attig and Doug Bates of The Oregonian, Portland
"For their persuasive, richly reported editorials on abuses inside a forgotten Oregon mental hospital."

This series is available online at:
NOTE: If the site asks you to register, it is a very simple process. All they ask is Zip Code, Year of Birth, and Gender


Added February 14, 2006 - Links Page

Note: Check back for updates.  My rebuilding effort for the site continues .... Dave Thompson

US Supreme Court: The Shaffer Decision - Nov 14, 2005 (Special Ed) See especially the Ginsburg dissent: [Dissent 1]

Added November 3, 2005 : Research Page (last update February 23, 2009)

I will be adding content to the research page as we go. 

Meanwhile, please send me information  regarding news stories available on the web (see bottom of this page for contact information). We have had some excellent work done by investigative journalists in the past: Katherine Boo, the Washington Post; Eric Weiss, the Hartford Courant, etc. I will be reviewing these series and putting up links for them. Timeliness is important since many newspaper web sites either delete stories after a time, or move them to a paid archive location. 
Dave Thompson - November 3, 2005



Archived pages posted (as of September 29, 2005):

Special Education - A Life of Dignity and Meaning. What happened? The Classroom

Special Education Is it cost or is it prejudice?

Special Education 1976 - 1998  What happened? The Courts.

The making of an advocate

Disabled children as persons (with rights!)

Parents protest (1999)


Email: Email address  

I suggest that you add my email address (shown above) to your own email safe list.

If you send email to the email address above, be sure to put something in the subject line such as Special Ed, YourChildMyChild, etc.