Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Illinois Doctor disciplined in controversial Autism case

Chicago Tribune article by Patricia Callahan | Dec.30, 2014

A Naperville Illinois doctor nationally known for offering alternative autism treatments has agreed to have her Illinois medical license placed on probation for at least a year after state regulators accused her of subjecting two children to unwarranted, dangerous therapies.

Dr. Anjum Usman, whose treatment of a Chicago boy was featured in the Tribune's 2009 "Dubious Medicine" investigation, will continue to practice but will take extra medical education classes and will submit 10 of her patients' medical charts quarterly to Dr. Robert Charles Dumont, an integrative medicine physician who will assess them.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which will oversee Usman's probation, had alleged that Usman provided "medically unwarranted treatment that may potentially result in permanent disabling injuries" to the boy featured in the Tribune series and another child. In prescribing chelation, a hormone modulator and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Usman subjected the Chicago boy to unproven treatments and demonstrated "extreme departure from rational medical judgment," state medical regulators originally had charged.

Chelation leaches heavy metals from the body, though most toxicologists say the test commonly used to measure the metals in children with autism is meaningless and the treatment potentially harmful. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves encasing children in pressurized oxygen chambers normally used after scuba diving accidents. This unproven therapy is meant to reduce inflammation that experts say is little understood and may even be beneficial.

After years of legal wrangling over what constitutes ethical and appropriate care for children with autism — a disorder that mainstream medicine can't fully explain or cure — state medical regulators softened the language they used to describe Usman's care of pediatric patients.

In reaching a consent order with Usman, medical regulators alleged that Usman failed to disclose to her patients her financial interests in the company supplying the hyperbaric oxygen chambers and in the compounding pharmacy that filled prescriptions for her patients. The state said she also failed to obtain informed consent for the chelation therapy and did not keep adequate medical records for her patients.Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, said consent orders generally are more conciliatory than the state's complaints. The consent order was approved last week.

Usman, who practices out of the True Health Medical Center in Naperville, neither admitted nor denied the state's allegations in signing the consent order. She agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.

Usman attorney Jeff Levens, in an interview Monday, said the consent agreement is good for Usman and her patients. "I commend Illinois because it realized that Dr. Usman is really a knowledgeable board-certified physician who has had remarkable success treating the medical issues that most autistic children have experienced," he said. "They realized this and resolved this case in a way that won't impact her ability to treat these patients."

Levens noted that Usman suggested to the state the doctor who will be reviewing her charts.

"They're not going to make judgments on the treatments or telling her how to practice medicine," Levens said. "They're going to make sure the files accurately reflect how the treatments are being done and that there are informed consents for every treatment."

In earlier legal filings, Usman's attorney said the charges were an abuse of the state's police powers and that medical regulators should instead celebrate Usman as a visionary who is "willing to risk the disapproval of 'mainstream' medicine in order to afford parents options other than drugging their kids until they are old enough to institutionalize."

Studies have shown that up to three-quarters of families with children with autism try alternative treatments, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are often not covered by insurance. Frustrated by mainstream medicine's inability to help many children with autism, parents are drawn to these therapies based on online testimonials and presentations at conferences.

The state's complaint against Usman alleged financial exploitation, which Levens denied. Medical regulators noted that Usman and the compounding pharmacy she owned together charged one girl's parents $27,000 for care and treatments. Separately, Usman prescribed hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

Usman, the complaint alleged, told the girl's father that her then-husband could sell him a hyperbaric oxygen chamber at a "better price," and the child's father did so. These arrangements "exploit patient R.S.'s parents for (Usman's) own financial gain," the state charged.

The Chicago boy whose treatment also was at issue in the state's case was the subject of a bitter custody battle between his mother, who sought the therapies from Usman, and his father, who alleged the treatments harmed their son. The father, James Coman, filed a complaint with state medical authorities that prompted the case against Usman; he also sued Usman in Cook County Circuit Court in 2010 alleging she provided "dangerous and unnecessary experimental treatments."

Coman's attorney, David Wilzig, on Monday said he voluntarily dismissed the suit this year but intends to reinstate it at a later date.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scams and Real Cons of 2014

as posted by AARP | article by Sid Kirchheimer | Dec 2014

While some 750 documented data breaches and the hacking of 160 million personal and business and government payment records dominated the news in 2014, the prime calling cards of scammers trying to steal your hard-earned money were intimidation and fear. Here’s how the scams work:
IRS Impostor Scam: In what officials had already called “the largest scam of its kind” in March, scammers continue to pose as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department in live and automated phone calls.
Often using software to display the actual IRS phone number — 800-829-1040 — on recipients’ Caller ID, they claimed back taxes were owed, threatening arrest, deportation or seizure of property or businesses unless immediate payment was made via Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid debit cards or wire transfer — payment methods the real IRS doesn’t request. By October, at least 130,000 complaints were filed about this scam, with reported losses exceeding $8 million.
The Medical Alert Scam: Although this scam began in 2013, it went viral this year. Beginning with nerve-wracking warnings of “increasing rates of death and injury from falls” and other home emergencies, robocalls flooded homes claiming that a free medical alert device was yours for the asking. In addition to false claims that call recipients had been recommended by doctors, AARP or others, or that the device had already been paid for, this year had another bogus incentive: promises of thousands of dollars in free coupons. The gotcha: After providing credit card data allegedly for shipping and activation, recipients were charged monthly fees for devices that never arrived.
Although the Federal Trade Commission and Florida attorney general shut down one major operation said to have conned seniors out of $23 million, this scam continues. (I received four calls this week alone.) As with other robocall cons — like those continuing offers to lower your credit card interest rate (for a fee and possibly to collect sensitive information for identity theft) — recipients are never identified by name in a supposedly “personal” offer.
The Tech Support Scam: In another longtime ruse that went into overdrive, scammers continued to pose as employees of Microsoft or online security software providers with alarming news: A potentially disabling virus was “noticed” on your device that they could fix.
These phone calls scam you in two ways: First, you’re instructed to click on a provided link or take other steps to give scammers remote access to your computer, along with your files, passwords and other sensitive information. And then, you’re billed up to $600 for their fraudulent fixes, providing credit card information that also could lead to identity theft. This year, the support scammers added a new trick: To get bank account details, they called past victims with claims they were entitled a refund for the previous false fix.
The Arrest Warrant Scam: Legitimate police don’t give advance warning of impending arrest. But scammers claiming to be cops do it all the time — and for bogus reasons such as missing jury duty or failure to pay an owed debt. It’s a ruse to get you to pay a fine, typically by prepaid debit card, to avoid handcuffs.
As those phone calls continued — often fooling recipients’ Caller ID to display phone numbers of actual law enforcement agencies — the new twist in 2014: Fake arrest notices sent by email, fax or U.S. mail, claiming to be from federal or local courts (or sometimes attorneys). In truth, legitimate warrants are delivered in person by a U.S. marshal or other law enforcement officer.
The Grandparent Scam:  Some 10,000 American grandparents each year continue to fall for this now classic con, in which scammers pose as beloved family members who had been arrested or injured and in need of quick cash — typically requested via a wire transfer.
Scammers continue their success by often gleaning actual names of grandchildren of those called from online obituaries, ancestry websites, Facebook and online telephone directories that list “possible relatives” and their ages. Learn from an actual scammer how he operated even without citing a grandchild’s name — and how to protect yourself.
For information about other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud, and gain access to a network of experts, law enforcement and people in your community who will keep you up to date on the latest scams in your area.

For more from AARP, visit: http://www.aarp.org/

Illinois Gov, Quinn Signs Law to Expand Property Tax Exemption for Veterans with Disabilities

PRESS RELEASE | Dec 30, 2014
State of Illinois

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to support secure homeownership for veterans with disabilities and their families. The new law expands property tax exemptions for veterans with disabilities, which will reduce the financial burden of homeownership. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to honor and support the men and women who have served our nation.

“When our brave men and women return from service, they deserve a safe place to call home,” Governor Quinn said. “Those of us on the homefront have a duty to take care of our servicemembers who have borne the battle. This new law is another way we can support veterans with disabilities by ensuring that Illinois’ heroes aren’t burdened by overwhelming property taxes.”

Senate Bill 2905, sponsored by State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Matteson) and State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora), expands property tax exemptions for veterans with disabilities and their spouses, increasing the disabled veterans’ homestead exemption from $70,000 to $100,000. The law also expands the disabled veterans’ homestead exemption to housing donated to veterans with disabilities by charities.

Senator Hastings, who is a military veteran, introduced the legislation after hearing from a veteran who was 100 percent disabled and unable to pay the property taxes on a home that had been equipped for his disability and given to him by a charity. The law also extends the disabled veterans’ standard homestead exemption to a veteran’s spouse in the event of the veteran’s service-related death.


Disability Experiences: Living with Disability in North Korea

a timely article to share from The Guardian 

Defector Ji Seong-ho lost his left hand and foot during the famine of the 1990s. Here, he describes life after the accident and why he felt he had to escape

North Koreans bow to bronze statues of North Korea’s late founder Kim Il-sung and late leader Kim Jong-il at Mansudae in Pyongyang in December 2014. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

The Guardian | by Ji Seong-ho | Dec 2014

I left North Korea in 2006 because I was in search of freedom. In more simple terms, I wanted to be treated as a human. 

On 7 March 1996 I had my accident and lost two limbs. I was 13 years-old. This was during the economic problems [and subsequent famine] in North Korea, so I wasn’t as well-developed as I should have been. It was a hard time to eat and survive. In 1995, my grandmother starved to death.
I should have been in school, but I was outside trying to find food. I would take coal and try to exchange it in the markets for food every seven or eight days. Back in 1996, there was a long time that I had nothing to eat. While I was riding the train to [try to steal some] coal, I lost consciousness. When I regained consciousness, I found that I had fallen through a gap between train carriages.
The train passed over me. I lost my limbs [left hand and foot]. It hurt so much. I was screaming so much that the sound would [have been] like watching an action movie in the cinema. Nobody helped. I went to the hospital. There, I received surgery without anaesthetic because they didn’t have it. The surgery took 4.5 hours.
I [had been] gathering coal with my mother and sister when the accident happened. My mother still remembers the screams – it was hard for her to process it.

Ji Seong-ho
Ji Seong-hoPhotograph: EAHRNK

My father was a member of the [ruling North Korean Worker’s] Party. Even though he would go to work, there would be no food to eat. When my father came to see me after the accident happened, he finally realised that it was more important to save his family rather than the party.
My mother still remembers the screams – it was hard for her to process it
There were times I blamed my father [for my injuries] because I had to find coal. He often apologised to me. My father felt guilty towards me, but I felt guilty about my father because he died later. I realised [in time] that it wasn’t my father’s fault, but the fault of the North Korean regime for not taking care of people.
North Korea is already a society where everybody is trying to eat and survive on their own, so they don’t really care whether you are disabled or not. That’s just how it was. There aren’t any groups that focus on or cater to the disabled community. There was no help from the government. 
My treatment lasted for around 10 months, but there was no follow-up rehabilitation. I would have infections. My father would try to treat them at home. He would gather grass and things to sell at the market to get medicine or antibiotics.
North Korea is already a society where everybody is trying to eat and survive on their own, so they don’t really care whether you are disabled or not
I didn’t have any friends with disabilities. There weren’t wheelchairs. There weren’t any prosthetics. My greatest wish when I was in North Korea was to be able to walk again.
When I left North Korea the first time, I had gone across the border [to China] in search of food. I crossed through the mountains using my crutches. When I returned I was arrested and tortured by North Korean authorities. They took my crutches away. I didn’t know why I was being tortured. The reason was obviously that for anyone who leaves North Korea, they deface the image of the North Korean regime. Because [the authorities] know of citizens using cameras to film, they are afraid of that footage getting out.
That was when I realised that this was a land I never wanted to stay in. I wanted to move to a land where I could be treated as a human, whether that was South Korea or somewhere else. That’s why I defected in 2006.
The most well-known way of defecting is crossing over the Tumen River [that divides North Korea and China] and into the mountains. That’s how I left.
In North Korea, you are born in to whatever situation you find yourself in. There’s not much room to change it. Even in South Korea, not many people know about this issue of disability rights. But with the recent UN findings on the rest of the human rights abuses in North Korea, the international community has heard a lot more about it.
In North Korea, you are born in to whatever situation you find yourself in. There’s not much room to change it
Obviously the human rights situation in North Korea is dire to begin with. So for disability rights... it’s worse. North Korea is trying to cover up [the way it treats people with disabilities]. They asked one person to compete at the 2012 Paralympics, but it’s not true to how they actually treat the disabled community.
Ji Seong-ho was originally from Hoeryong City, North Hamgyeong Province, in North Korea. He is 32 years-old and now lives in Seoul, where he is a law student at Dongguk University, and president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights (NAUH).
Interview by Michael Glendinning of the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK). Translation by Joanna Hong.

FCC Accepting Nominations for Chairman’s Accessibility Awards Beginning January 5, 2015

as shared by Disability.gov.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be accepting nominations for the 4th Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility from January 5 - March 5, 2015. The awards recognize innovative products, services, technologies and practices that advance accessibility of communications or video programming technologies for people with disabilities. Nomination categories include wearable devices, real-time text and video description. Send nominations to ChairmansAAA@fcc.gov no later than March 5, 2015. For information about last June's winners visit http://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-wheeler-honors-innovators-accessibility.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Illinois Winter Hunting Opportunities Available For People With Disabilities

Northern Public Radio | by JENNA DOOLEY | Dec. 2014

The archery season for deer and turkey continues into mid-January for some counties.

Since 1999, Illinois state parks where hunting is available have opened their gates to people with disabilities.
Jay Williams coordinates the state's disabled outdoor opportunities program.  He says word still needs to get out that the program is not just about one-day events, but allows people with disabilities to take part in hunting throughout the year.
They don't have to watch The Outdoor Channel anymore to get what I call their "hunting fix." What we are going to do is make reasonable accommodations for you in our state parks."
Williams lost the use of his legs several decades ago.  He says his experience helps him identify ways others with disabilities can participate in hunting and fishing at state parks. He says every situation is unique.
"There are what we call 'hidden disabilities" like heart problems, arthritis, just different things that might keep people from getting out."
Williams says the state has a "10 Day Rule." People with disabilities contact a site superintendent 10 days before they would like to hunt or fish in order to make accommodations.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

South Carolina family files complaint after Autistic adult son is shocked with taser, and arrested

Greenville City Police Department arrested Tario Anderson, 34, for interfering with police work and resisting arrest

WYFF4 News | report by Aly Myles | Dec. 26, 2014

GREENVILLE, SC —According to the Greenville City Police Department, Tario Anderson, 34, wouldn't listen to them when they asked him to stop three times and ran from police on Christmas Eve just before midnight.

Officers were in the area, responding to reports of gunshots when they saw Anderson walking on Sullivan St. towards Augusta St.

"When they put their spotlight on him, he immediately put his head down, put his hands in his pockets and began to walk away from him," Officer Johnathan Bragg with Greenville Police said. "They then got out of the vehicle and approached him and ordered him to stop at which point he did flee from the officers and they pursued him."

Police then used a Taser to stop Anderson, a 6 foot 8 inch man, but his mother, Carolyn Anderson, said he has severe autism, does not understand much and did not need to be arrested or shocked with a Taser.

"Tario can say yes or no, he might ask for a thing or two, but just verbal, no," Carolyn Anderson said.

She said the family has lived on Sullivan St. her entire life and he often walks most nights to other relatives' homes on the street. When neighbors saw Tario shocked with the Taser, Carolyn Anderson said they called her to come outside, but officers would not let her near her son.

"If you had seen my baby was out there, laying on that sidewalk and every time he reached for me, I reached for him- [they'd say] "Get back, we gonna Tase you"," Carolyn Anderson said. "I was trying to make them take me to jail. I curse everything, 'Take me! I'm the one causing trouble! Take me. He's not doing nothing.' No matter what I said, it didn’t make no difference to them."

Bragg said the officers were not aware if Tario Anderson has a mental handicap, and because he broke the law by running and resisting arrest, they arrested him.

"From what he did, he did break the law so in any case like that, we do go ahead and arrest them and make the charges and we’re not deemed certified to declare anyone as mentally ill or with a disease or anything like that so we don’t technically know if he is," Bragg said.

After the arrest, Tario Anderson was treated on scene by paramedics who cleared him, and he was taken to the detention center, where he was charged with interfering with police work and resisting arrest.

Carolyn Anderson said this is the first time her son has been arrested and she does not understand why he is being charged.

"Interfering? Resisting? It's against the law to take off running? I still don’t understand. I really don’t," she said. "I say if you hear gunshots, are you going to stand there and wait to see if the bullet hit you or are you getting out the way?"

Bragg released a statement concerning the incident which said in part, "Officers used a Taser to secure Anderson.  We are conducting an investigation into the claim of excessive force by Anderson's mother, and it would not be appropriate to address all of her claims at this time.  I also think that we should reinforce the need for members of the public to be cooperative with police when stopped and ask to see or speak with a supervisor if they feel mistreated in any way.  It is our goal to effectively police our city with the full cooperation of the public we serve and we regret all incidents where force must be used to faithfully perform our duties.

Tario Anderson is expected back in court Jan. 9.


Watch the video below, uploaded to YouTube by WYFF.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Jasper and Kellsey journey of Service Dog and Disabled Student to be accepted in a Illinois Elementary School

TY to John F. for sharing. This helps to show that as we approach in 2015 the 25th Anniversary of the passage of the ADA, we must still continue all efforts of equality for those with disabilities now, and the future of equality. 

Finally, Justice for Jasper
Aledo Times Record | By Cala Smoldt/Staff Reporter | Dec 23, 2014

Colin and Brandi McGuire released this statement following the decision in the dispute with Sherrard School District Dec. 18, 2014:

"The McGuire family is very pleased with the Impartial Hearing Officer’s waell-reasoned and factually detailed ruling. The Impartial Hearing Officer found that Sherrard Community Unit School District #200 denied the McGuire’s daughter a Free and Appropriate Public Education by denying her right to bring Jasper with her to school and by creating a hostile environment for their daughter.

While the litigation process is likely not concluded, this is an important step toward achieving justice not only for their daughter and Jasper, but for all children dealing with disabilities who seek unfettered public access with service animals.

The McGuires are thankful to the community for their overwhelming outpouring of support which helped them through this trying and emotional time. The McGuires would also like to publicly thank all the individuals, professionals, certified teachers, and others who, against enormous pressure, testified in the Due Process hearing.

This matter is not fully resolved but this is a big first step and the McGuires intend to take the next steps necessary to seek reimbursement for the attorney’s fees associated with this Due Process proceeding."

An Impartial Hearing Officer, Michael Risen, for the Illinois State Board of Education handed down a decision in the Due Process Hearing between Sherrard CUSD #200 and Colin and Brandi McGuire. The McGuire's were awarded tuition reimbursement for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year and all of 2014-15 school year. They were also awarded travel costs between home and Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island. Sherrard School District was ordered to convene an IEP (Individualized Education Program) team to develop an IEP to meet 9 year old Kellsey's other health impairment needs and ordered the team to decide how to include the student's service dog in the IEP.

The McGuire's young daughter, Kellsey McGuire suffers from seizures and requires a service dog, Jasper, to notify them before one might occur, allowing them to render life saving methods. Brandi McGuire notified her school, Sherrard Elementary, in December 2013 that Kellsey will begin bringing a service dog. The school welcomed him with open arms, even holding an assembly to educate students and staff on how to respond to Jasper.

It wasn't long until a conflict arose between the art teacher, Ms. Hillary Plog, and the service dog, Jasper. Jasper was trained by DAD (Disability Assistance Dogs). Plog also trains service dogs, unassociated with that organization. Legal documents say, "...Hillary Plog's behaviors were more consistent with a persistent effort to prove her belief of Jasper's perceived lack of training by sending emails and documents to her superiors that demonstrated what (she) believed to be the law governing service animals."

Mrs. McGuire was told by Principal Victoria Connelly repeatedly that she could not send Jasper to school with Kellsey. Due to frequent high stress and anxiety situations Kellsey continued to have seizures as a direct result. The McGuire's sought measures to remedy the situation by removing Kellsey from Hillary Plog's, once per week art class. The conflict between the art teacher and administration escalated causing the McGuire's to remove Kellsey entirely from Sherrard School District. She began attending Jordan Catholic School, where Kellsey and Jasper have both attended with no issues to date.

In closed hearings the Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO) with the Illinois State Board of Education, listened to a cast of witnesses including several employees of Sherrard School District, family friends, bystanders, Superintendent Samuel Light, and Hillary Plog, identified as District Music Teacher (though not with Sherrard). Due process hearings are an administrative remedy available to parents of children, according to attorney for the McGuire's, John Doak said, "(the) State Board of Education assigns an impartial hearing officer. Because it's such a highly specialized and technical area, they want somebody, the hearing officer, to have a very good understanding and familiarity with those issues. It's not like a court system, (there are) relaxed rules so the best interest of the child is what is paramount."

Court documents state that, "after considering the presented testimony and reviewed documents presented as the evidence at hearing, as well as the arguments of both parties, the IHO made these Findings of Fact," some of which include:

During the assembly, Jan. 13, intended to welcome Jasper, the mother and other staff members observed Plog texting during the assembly. Principal Connelly testified that Plog informed her that she had called the Department of Justice to inform them of the violations that she believed occurred with jasper during the assembly.

The incidents began Jan. 22, the first full day Jasper attended school with Kellsey, without her mother present. During the final period of the day Kellsey and Jasper went to art class. The art teacher, Plog, opened the door to the classroom suddenly and the door hit the wall loudly and Jasper barked, causing Plog's service dog in the classroom to bark. The student successfully redirected Jasper and he sat as directed while Plog's service dog continued to bark. As a result of the continued barking from Plog's service dog, a paraprofessional, Cheryl Schulte, escorted Kellsey and Jasper back to the 2nd grade classroom. At this point Plog commented within earshot of the student, "That's no way a service dog is supposed to act." Following this encounter, Kellsey was upset that Plog did not want her and Jasper in art class as a result of this incident. Later the same day, Jasper alerted her parents while at home that Kellsey was experiencing a seizure in her bedroom.

Jan. 23 The Principal received an email from Brandi McGuire detailing their decision to withhold Kellsey and Jasper from Plog's art class. The Principal testified the parent informed her of the parent's belief that Plog was trying to "ruin" Jasper because she disliked DAD and believed that DAD performed poorly when providing trained service dogs. Principal Connelly confirmed that Plog had expressed her dislike of DAD and that Plog believed that her own service dog organization did a much better job of training than DAD.

After several meetings going back and forth about whether or not Kellsey can have Jasper at Sherrard, Principal Connelly called the McGuire's to inform them of her decision to not allow Kellsey and Jasper to attend school the next day. The Principal explained that Plog indicated she would call the police if the student and Jasper attended school again and the Principal wanted to avoid that confrontation. Additionally, the Principal indicated to Kellsey's second grade teacher that the Principal's reason for banning Jasper was, "I cannot have an employee of mine feeling unsafe."

Measures are outlined in the documents showing that the administration tried to avoid any confrontations with Plog. The Principal escorted Kellsey and Jasper to the far end entrance of the school. As a result, the Principal concluded that Plog intended to cause a confrontation between Jasper and herself and the Principal intended to avoid any confrontations. The Principal concluded that Plog had made up her mind from the day of the first assembly with DAD personnel that Jasper (having been trained by DAD) failed to meet service dog standards.
IHO, Risen notes he found testimony of Plog less than credible. Plog wrote, "I requested that she make the decision to remove the dog based on the Illinois and National laws." Yet, under oath, Plog responded three separate times to questions that probed if she ever asked to have the dog removed and she responded, "No" to each question.

According to documents, "The record of HP's (Hillary Plog) actions recorded both in the referenced prepared statements of events, numerous emails, and testimony regarding Plog's actions during the course of the problems experienced by the student and Jasper all support that Plog believed that Jasper failed to be properly trained.... Finally, Plog claimed she was afraid of Jasper even though she prided herself as a dog trainer, including training German Shepherds in Schutzhund, the German guard dog training. These inconsistencies with Plog's documented behaviors and documented statements pose serious questions as to the reliability of any of Plog's testimony."

More incidents are mentioned that reportedly caused Kellsey's seizures. Feb. 14, Principal Connelly resigned her position as Principal of Sherrard Elementary School because she believed she failed the student, "It's my job as the Principal to make things work, solve problems, keep my children safe. I felt very badly that obviously we hadn't made it work. I hadn't made it work." Further, Connelly testified that the environment at the school had two camps, one supporting Plog, and one supporting Kellsey and Jasper.

May 31, Hillary Plog met with staff to share her version and feelings regarding the incidents with Kellsey and Jasper. That's when she informed them she had resigned her position as a teacher in the Sherrard School District. On their website, Wood Intermediate School in Davenport, Iowa, names Hillary Plog as a new art teacher for this School year (2014).

It is summarized in court documents that Sherrard School District was required to convene an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting when requested by parents and or when a parent provides new information. The parent did both, providing new information, December 2013 and requesting an IEP in January of 2014. Had the District met this obligation when first informed of Jasper's pending arrival, much, if not all the conflict that developed in January and February may have been avoided.

Superintendent Samuel Light stated that he saw no reason to develop and adopt a policy in compliance with Illinois Statutes regarding both having a policy on service dogs, as well as, revising such policies when appropriate, despite all of the controversy the District experienced. IHO Risen concluded that this attitude demonstrates a continuation of unreasonableness and the indifference previously demonstrated by the administrators of the District.

IHO Michael Risen concluded that the administration of Sherrard behaved indifferently, unreasonably, and failed to take actions consistent with the requirements of Illinois Statutes and the courts..... the evidence supports the Parent's argument that the harassment resulted in such severe or pervasive environment that it altered the condition of the student's education. The evidence supports the parent's argument that, "(the student's) opportunity for an appropriate education was compromised. (The student) was isolated from other students and her friends when she was forced to go through alternate doors and hide out in classrooms in order to avoid her bully. (The student) also missed school to attend a meeting with the Superintendent. There was also testimony that, despite feeling more confident and independent with the arrival of Jasper, (The student) began feeling fearful and dependent upon her aide...."

In the McGuire's closing brief, they also sought compensation for tuition at Jordan Catholic for during the 2015-19 school years. These years were not part of the requested relief when the issues and proposed relief were finalized during the July 28 Pre-Hearing conference and thus, the IHO denied that portion of the parent's request.

(Decisions rendered by IHOs are legally binding upon parties in the dispute).

Sherrard School District was ordered to reimburse the McGuire's for the tuition costs for the remainder of the 2013-14 school years totaling, $1,177.16, and the 2014-15 school year in the amount of $1,050. Payment must be made directly to Jordan Catholic School the remaining balance of the student's tuition for the 2014-15 school year in monthly installments of $612.50 each month beginning March 1, 2015 - June 1. They are also required to cover the cost of transportation amounting to $1,203.45 based on the IRS reimbursement rate of .565 cents per mile to take Kellsey to and from school. The school district was also ordered to convene an IEP team (Individualized Education Plan) to include current representatives from Jordan Catholic School where they will develop a plan for Kellsey providing her with specialized services and to include her service dog, Jasper, no later than May 16, 2015. For every amount owed, and the team required, the district must send copies and proof to the Due Process Coordinator in Springfield.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sony to Pay $85,000 under Decree Resolving EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

PRESS RELEASE | Dec 23, 2014
 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Electronics Giant Allegedly Engineered Firing of Employee Because of Her Prosthetic Leg
CHICAGO - Sony Electronics, Inc. will pay $85,000 under a consent decree entered in federal court today ending a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that Sony violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it brought about the termination of a woman with a prosthetic leg because of her disability.
The employee had been sent by Staffmark Investment LLC, a staffing agency, to inspect Sony televisions on a temporary basis at a facility located in Romeoville, Ill. According to the EEOC, on the employee's second day on the job, a Staffmark employee approached and removed the employee from the worksite, explaining that there were concerns she would be bumped into or knocked down.
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC Acting Chicago District Director who managed the agency's investigation, said, "We found that although the employee's removal was executed by Staffmark employees, it was actually prompted by a request from Sony's management which made Sony complicit in the discrimination."  
The EEOC filed suit against both Staffmark and Sony. The case against Staffmark ended in a consent decree entered June 25, 2013 under which Staffmark paid $100,000 to the employee.
The consent decree, entered today by U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel of the Northern District of Illinois, ends the EEOC's lawsuit against Sony and provides an additional $85,000 in monetary relief to the victim. The decree also requires Sony to report all employee complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC for the next two years. Sony must also train certain of its managerial and supervisory employees on the laws pertaining to employment discrimination, including the ADA. The decree also specifically provides that Sony cannot require the employee to keep the facts underlying the case confidential, waive her rights to file charges of discrimination with a government agency, or refrain from applying for work with Sony or any of its clients.
John Hendrickson, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, said, "The ADA provides robust employee protections, even for short-term temporary workers hired through staffing agencies. Smart employers will learn from this case that they cannot insulate themselves from liability for discrimination by acting through employment and staffing agencies. That's axiomatic under the civil rights laws we enforce-if you can't do it directly, you can't do it through someone else."
EEOC filed the case, EEOC v. Staffmark Investment LLC and Sony Electronics, Inc., No. 12-cv-9628, on Dec. 4, 2012, after first attempting to reach a negotiated settlement through the agency's conciliation process. EEOC Trial Attorneys Ann Henry and Brad Fiorito, and Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason, litigated the case on behalf of the government.
EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Bank of America to Pay $110,000 to Resolve EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

PRESS RELEASE | Dec 19, 2014
 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

CHICAGO - Bank of America will pay $110,000 to a former temporary worker and provide other equitable relief under a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC alleged that Bank of America failed to accommodate a visually impaired data entry worker and instead terminated his temporary assignment at one of the bank's branches in downtown Chicago after one day on the job.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. This can include making adjustments or modifications in the workplace that enable an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his job. For example, an employer may be required to provide screen magnifying software that would enable an employee with a visual impairment to perform essential computer work. Questions and answers about blindness, visual impairments and the ADA are available on the EEOC's website.
The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Bank of America, N.A., Civil Action No. 11-cv-6378, September 13, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur entered the decree resolving the suit December 18. In addition to monetary relief for the former employee, the decree includes an injunction requiring the bank provide reasonable accommodations to temporary and contingent workers at its branches throughout Illinois, provides for training about the ADA's requirements and imposes recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the duration of the decree.
"Of the millions of working-age Americans with vision loss, research has shown that fewer than half are employed, An employer of the size and sophistication of Bank of America, which employs an enormous number of people working at computer terminals, ought to be a national leader in employing individuals with disabilities, including vision loss, and a leader in ADA compliance generally," said John Hendrickson, EEOC Chicago district regional attorney. "We're optimistic that this consent decree is going to prompt that kind of progress at Bank of America, not only because it's the law, but also because it's the right thing to do."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Incredible 3D-printed 'yearbook' for the Seoul National School for the Blind

wonderful article from CNET | by Anthony Domanico | Dec 2014
YouTube video at bottom of article by AD STARS
The graduating class of the Seoul National School for the Blind in South Korea received an incredible 3D-printed yearbook so students can remember what their friends look like.

For many people, high school yearbooks serve as a treasured reminder of a pivotal time in life. But for blind and visually impaired students, the photos that are so central to the traditional memory books have by their very nature been inaccessible. Here's a heartwarming story about how 3D printing changed that for one group of students.

At the Seoul National School for the Blind in South Korea, 2014's graduating class walked away with a 3D-printed "yearbook" so they can remember the friends they made in school forever. Each of the eight students received extremely detailed 3D-printed busts of themselves and their classmates, and the bottom of each bust has a braille name tag they can use to identify their peers.

The yearbooks were created by 3D TEK, a small printing company in South Korea, and the global marketing communications company Innocean Worldwide. The Touchable Yearbook project was entered into the Ad Stars Festival's awards show where it took home a silver medal back in August. But while the project isn't exactly a new creation, we can't imagine a more inspiring story for getting in the holiday spirit. 

In the video below, you can just see how incredibly happy the students are to be receiving their first yearbook. And just you try not having all the feels.

[ADSTARS 2014] Touchable Yearbook

YouTube published by AD STARS

Do you still believe in the magic of Christmas! Watch the Reindeer Cam for FREE!

Do you, or someone you know, or even in your own home still believe in the magic of Christmas? If so, you can watch Santa’s reindeer on a live feed. They can also watch Santa feed his reindeer at 11am, 6pm and 9pm EST. (10am, 5pm and 8pm CST)

YouTube shared on Reindeer Cam
Started on Nov 25, 2014
As seen on CNN, The Today Show and more!
See the live stream and much more at  www.ReindeerCam.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Illinois medical marijuana for children rules are posted

ASSOCIATED PRESS | Dec. 23, 2014

(AP) — Illinois health officials posted emergency rules Tuesday spelling out how the state's medical marijuana program will be extended to children.
Patients younger than 18 with certain health conditions, including seizures from epilepsy, will be able to use non-smokable forms of marijuana under a new law taking effect Jan. 1. Children will need to obtain signatures from two doctors who certify they believe the patient will benefit, according to regulations posted online by the state Department of Public Health. Adult patients need just one doctor to sign off.
Requiring parents to take their children to two doctors to get signed forms is "an unneeded burden standing between these patients and the medicine they need," said Dan Linn, executive director of Illinois NORML, a group advocating changes in marijuana laws. Doctors have been reluctant to give their signatures for adults who want to use medical marijuana, Linn said.
One Illinois father who advocated for the new law said requiring two doctors' signatures is prudent.
"There does need to be a different standard for kids," said Randy Gross of Naperville, whose 8-year-old son Chase suffers from intractable epilepsy and has used marijuana oil in Colorado. "I'm glad they're protecting kids."
The annual fee for a patient younger than 18 to obtain medical marijuana care will be $100 and will include a caregiver's fee. That's slightly less than the fees for an adult patient who needs a caregiver to purchase medical marijuana. Adult patients pay both a $100 patient fee and a $25 caregiver fee.
The rules expand a medical marijuana advisory board to include a parent or caregiver of a patient younger than 18 and a medical professional with experience in pediatrics. Gov. Pat Quinn hasn't appointed the advisory board and it's unclear when board members will be named.
Including a parent on the board will keep the system responsive to the needs of children, said Margaret Storey, an Evanston mother of an 11-year-old daughter with intractable epilepsy. Storey testified before Senate and House committees in favor of the bill.
The emergency rules are in effect for 150 days. A draft of permanent rules will be published later, which will trigger a 45-day public comment period.
Illinois expects to grant up to 21 permits for cultivation centers and up to 60 permits for dispensaries before the end of the year. The first legal marijuana would be available to registered patients sometime in 2015.
The whole program is set to expire in 2018, unless the Legislature extends what is now a pilot program.
For Illinois Department of Public Health medical cannabis frequently asked questions, visit: