Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue, Prosecutor (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 479-783-8976
The online disability community (and specifically the autism community) is abuzz with the story of Zakh Price. From this story, http://www.examiner.com/x-4959-Special-Education-Examiner~y2009m12d30-Autism-is-considered-a-felony-in-fifth-grade?cid=edition-rss-National, to the grandmother's facebook group, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=241323477866&ref=nf&v=info#/group.php?gid=228604481972, with its 654 members and growing, to blogs like mine, http://counteringageofautism.blogspot.com/2010/01/herd-immunity-is-not-responsible-for.html, http://counteringageofautism.blogspot.com/2010/01/emailing-on-behalf-of-zakh-price.html, to Left Brain/Right Brain http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=3977 to Ari Ne'eman, president of ASAN, sending out a mass email to all ASAN members, the autism community is discussing this story.
I, among many hundreds of horrified parents and autistic adults, implore you to look carefully at this case, at whether this school followed this young man's IEP, at whether the adults involved escalated the situation until the point of no return for this young man when they could have stepped back and allowed him the time to collect himself. I ask that you not pursue felony charges against this young man, that you work with the child's mother and grandmother and the school district to resolve this in such a way that this young man's best interests are served.
The autism community will be watching. We send our children into the school system with the belief that our children's unique needs and challenges will be understood, that they will be protected, that they will not have their personhood violated, that they will come home to us safely and untraumatized, and that they will have their IEPs followed. Too many times this is not what happens.
Thank you for your time.
Adjunct Professor, Psychology and English