On a Pastoral Note
Email from the Superintendent

Letter to the Superintendent

I delivered this letter to the Superintendent of Schools at the Board of Education office in our town this afternoon. I've removed names and some other details.


Dear [name of Superintendent of Schools],

My name is Kristina Chew and I am the mother of Charles Fisher, who is 12 years old and attends [public middle school in New Jersey]. Charlie is on the autism spectrum and is currently in a self-contained autism classroom; his teacher is [name]. 

My husband, James Fisher, and I have requested that Charlie's Child Study Team meet to hold an Emergency Meeting.  We were shocked to discover, in Incident Reports dated September 9, 10, and 11, that a "four person floor control" was being used on our son. We did not receive copies of these reports until September 25th, over two weeks after these restraints had been used on Charlie. (The reports were mailed in an envelope postmarked September 24th.) Prior to receiving these reports, we had not been informed---via emails or other communication from Charlie's teacher and case manager, [name], or from [name of Supervisor of Special Services] --- that such "four person floor control" restraints were being used on Charlie. 

On September 28th, I emailed [Charlie's case manager] and requested an Emergency Meeting. On September 29th, [Charlie's case manager] emailed me that the district feels that such a meeting "is not warranted at his [sic] time." While my husband and I had met with the district on September 25th for an 8am re-evaluation meeting, we did not receive the Incident Reports reporting the "four person floor control" until the afternoon of September 25th, and thus were not able to address this very serious matter at the meeting. [The Supervisor of Special Services] has repeatedly stated that the district is concerned about the "safety" of our son and we much appreciate this. However, the use of a restraint such as "four person floor control" leaves us with many concerns, and all the more so because no one told us about such restraints at the time they were used, and let over two weeks pass before we were informed.

Charlie is currently being followed by a neurologist, [name], of the [name of neurological practice].  Various medical and neurological health issues have arisen in our discussions with [Charlie's neurologist]. We do not understand why the [name of our town] School District did not inform us about the use of a "four person floor control" in a timely fashion, in order to address Charlie's known and yet unknown health concerns.

I am a well-regarded advocate for autism and individuals with autism, both in the US and aboard. I have appeared on Good Morning America and the Today show to speak about autism (indeed, Charlie made brief appearances on both of these shows). I have been interviewed by, and quoted and/or referenced in, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other national and regional media outlets. Since June of 2005, I have been writing online in various blogs about autism and our life with our son Charlie. My current blog, We Go With Him, receives several hundred visitors a day and can be found at:


Again, my husband, James Fisher, and I request that Charlie's Child Study Team meet to hold an Emergency Meeting as soon as possible to discuss these very serious matters. We would more than appreciate your assistance in facilitating this request.

Thank you very much.

Kristina Chew, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Classics
Director, Special Scholarships and Graduate Study
Saint Peter's College 
2641 Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07306 


http://kristinachew.com ~  We Go With Him blog http://autism.typepad.com




Pardon my "french" but...OMFG. They used the 4person restraint on him more than once and didn't think it was important to tell you about even in the same *week* it happened??? I hope you copied an attorney on this letter.

Seriously, I'm not generally of a litigious nature but they (school/the district) have shown time and again that they have no regard whatsoever for Charlie's rights. I would be beyond steaming at this point.

I hope you get that emergency meeting ASAP!


OMFG, too. I can't believe that they laid a hand--much less eight hands--on your son without informing you about it instantly. I hope you get that meeting, too. And that they get...something.


Tell 'em, Kristina! I'm so very sorry you're living this, and so very glad Charlie has you in his corner.


I am HORRIFIED! How were you able to exercise such restraint? I'm afraid I would have stormed the place spitting and kicking until they had me in a four-person hold. How dare they???


Go get em :) I'm just sorry Charlie had to experience that.


Totally unacceptable. How could they not feel that it just might be important to mention the incidents on the day(s) they happened, much less at your meeting on the 25th?

When my kid gets as much as a time-out at school, the teacher lets me know about it.

Poor Charlie (and Charlie's parents.) Hope the letter gets their attention, pronto.

karen d

I hope your eloquent letter scares the *&^% out them and you get your meeting right away. You go, girl.



Kristina, this is one of those times to give in and get help - you NEED a lawyer. And you need someone (preferably the lawyer) to go in to that meeting with you. Call the ACLU, this could be a violation of his rights, maybe they won't charge you.

But know, if you go in there by yourself, just know that they are going to be going for your throat. Please don't go into that emergency meeting unprotected. You and Jim will Not be able to do this alone, they will make sure of it.


I'd totally lawyer up. What does Jim think?

I feel sick about all of this.


I agree. You need a lawyer or at least an advocate who knows what is and is not appropriate. Clearly what they've done (and not done) is absolutely unacceptable.

Big hugs to you all. Hang in there!! xo


amazing. my oldest, in a typical classroom as she only has mild emotional impairment due to her adhd, has a system that involves daily reports of disciplinary matters. wth is it that they can't do even weekly reports in disabled classrooms?


Hello Child Study Team, School District, and Superintendent of Schools! We are all following this closely, and hoping that you choose to do what is right and best for this precious 12-year-old boy.


I'm hoping you get a promt response - things have gone too far.

I wonder how much "challenging behaviour" is increased by the use of restraint. Surely it can only be interpreted by Charlie as a fight or flight situation - if I was scared that I may be physically restrained, I would certainly be on edge all the time.


*jaw dropping open*

Oh, your boy. His heart must be so sore right now, as is yours, obviously.

Really hoping this gets the kind of response you all want and Charlie needs.


Good for you! And very good at working in your press credentials...that's always gotten attention from bureaucrats more quickly than anything else for us. I think that you'll have your meeting very soon.

I'm sorry about the restraints- we're going through it again too, and it's hard to deal with on so many levels.



Did you say this program is overseen by a reputable consultant who is starting a PhD program in the state?


I'm amazed that you have no means of getting a meeting. Atleast the IPRC means I or they can call one at any time. There is a time frame as well noted in the legislation.

They should tell you immediately if there's a problem, they should have brought those incident reports to the meeting. They deliberately withheld them from the professionals that were at that meeting.

I too would be screaming, and lawyered, by now.

a parent

For what it's worth, here's my two cents. We had a pretty big fight related to many issues including some safety type problems, but the problems were due more to ignorance than arrogant "experts". Even with some differences I see a lot of similarity in your current situation.

My advice is get a lawyer who has successfully worked with this school district. Unless you're looking for a big public fight (which has some advantages, but for me they're too emotionally unpleasant) find someone who gets successful results without massive appeals, if possible. That might not be possible with every school district, but I think that if your lawyer approaches it with the right attitude you should be able to ease into a solution.

What I see right now is a impasse, and without a 3rd party to move I'm not sure I see much hope for quick changes. I was absolutely astonished at how quickly we moved from totally stuck to a non-public placement just by getting the right lawyer to come to an IEP meeting. Substantively, she was saying what my husband and I had been saying for about a year, but they listened. When she said this or that was illegal (in a very nice way) they immediately stopped doing it. I had been angrily telling them the same thing with no affect. It really was night and day.

I feel for you both.

Kristina Chew

thank you thank you........making lots of notes. yes we are lawyered......

@Parent, regarding your question---yes, I did say that about the public school autism program that Charlie is in; a bit more information: http://bit.ly/3UKnWo

@Aenea, oh no regarding restraints---I'll be in touch---

Kristina Chew

@Emma, you're spot on -- when I pick up Charlie there is always a male aide hovering around. And I walk in and out with Charlie in my la-de-da way; it all makes me want to say, what is wrong with this picture?

I feel bad sending him to the school right now but it is now for a finite time.


i am enraged by the use of that restraint on charlie AND by the neglect and disrespect and dare i say, illegal decision not to inform you or jim of said occurrences. OUTRAGED. i want to storm in there and give them a piece of my mind. alert the press. i think you've made it clear to them that you are in a position to bring this series of events to the attention of the media. i'm glad you have the connections you do and the coverage, education, exposure, passion, strength, eloquence and persistence to deal with this.

AND i'm so sorry that you have to go through this, kristina, and that charlie had to go through that. it's so wrong and harmful, i could spit.

i'm sorry that ANYONE would have to go through this. and i also worry about parents who don't have half the resources or any of the experiences and exposure you've had. what can they say in their letter to get the school to pay attention?


Well, at least Charlie has you in his corner. I'm glad to hear that you are lawyered. Obviously, a concern is that, by not reporting it immediately they seem to be treating it as routine. If that sort of behavior on the part of the staff is routine, I could see how Charlie could be very stressed. I hope you succeed in knocking their heads together soon.

Kristina Chew

@vab, I think they have their helmets on, so to speak...... one has to keep at it. I guess all those wrangles with the antivaxxers were good practice.

yes, the administrators just acted like "oh what's the big deal, a few late/missing incident reports here and there, that's business as usual."

@kyra, I wasn't so eloquent at the meeting last Friday---more like a rageful mother sputtering with anger and, well, disgust! I've started writing to the Board of Ed too. Sadly, I suspect legal action is the one thing they would start to respond to, but this school district is pretty well lawyered up itself.

They probably figured out some time ago that it was cheaper to have their own in-district program and make it good (or seem good) and then be able to fend off families with lawsuits from there.


I am so sorry. And I know you know all too well that restraint is seen as necessary by so many schools. Don't forget to take the APRAIS survey and copy your legislators (state and federal and congressmna miller) on your letters regarding restraint. Why do you think they suddenly informed you after not informing you? What else aren't they telling you?


Oh Kristina, I'm horrified. I'm so sorry. Are you keeping Charlie home? How can I help? How can we help?

Kristina Chew

@ange, I'm assuming they're trying to avoid a lawsuit....... for the record, back in the spring of this year, we were informed that "protective" holds might occasionally be used BUT we specified that

(1) we had (of course) to be told when they were and that these were TEMPORARY measures and part of a process. But now it's become routine. They never did an FBA to figure out what was going on until we insisted (and it took a lot of insisting).
(2) 4 people doing "floor control" on Charlie is beyond anything they'd told us about.
(3) waiting over 2 weeks to tell us....just not good.

And we were able to minimize Charlie's tantrums over the summer---but the school district has offered no response to our offers of telling them what we did to achieve this. Which says to us, they're not really interested in figuring out how to get rid of the helmet and use restraints.

@mothersvox, it's a royal mess. He has intake at this new place Oct 13----knowing you are all out there makes the hugest difference! Will be in touch.......

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)