On the heels of recent allegations of abuse by special education staff in Lexington schools, a third Lexington family has come forward alleging their son was not only put in a seclusion room while a first-grader at Fiske Elementary School, but was also physically restrained while a third-grader at the Estabrook School.
Robert Ernst, 17, now a senior at Lexington High School, told the Lexington Minuteman he was physically restrained by teachers and aides while in the third-grade at Estabrook. “They would get all of the other kids out of the room and they would say, ‘If you don’t calm down and do your work, we’re going to have to restrain you because clearly you’re not capable of behaving yourself,’” Robert said. “That would make me extremely upset at them and then they would go through the whole restraining process, which, of course, I would fight back. I didn’t want to hurt them, but I didn’t want to be restrained.”
Robert, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at a young age, said teachers would restrain him by holding his hands, restraining him in a chair or, in some cases, on the floor. Robert’s mother, Wendy Ernst, received 19 reports from the school from Sept. 9, 2003 to Oct. 15, 2003 describing the restraints used on her son. “We were getting these reports virtually daily,” Ernst said.