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Update on Dallas (Obanion) Williams's case: 6 y/o autistic child was facing possible felony charges

Edit: 09/25/10:

It has come to my attention that there may have been readers who read this article but failed to see the updates on Mr. Robinson. You see, after this article was published, numerous people contacted this author and provided quite a bit of information. Attempts were made to get answers from Mr. Robinson and yet he failed to answer the questions. An article outlining what these numerous people were claiming was published; after that, Mr. Robinson harassed this author along with one other person and pretending to be multiple people in an effort to "prove" he was a legitimate person trying to help those with autism and that his claims were true; following that harassment, I filed a police report with my local Sheriff's office and forwarded this information to the Arizona FBI office who is handling a case against Mr. Robinson. Another article was then published outlining the harassment. A final article was published some months later with some answers regarding whether or not he was a Nascar racer and first cousins to Shawn Robinson and worked "closely" with Ari Ne'eman, including being interviewed with Mr. Ne'eman by CNN. Both Shawna Robinson and Ari Ne'eman denied any knowledge of Mr. Robinson.

Here are the links to those articles:

Update on Dallas' case by the lawyer involved and Tina O, the boy's mother

Information comes to light

Harassment ensues

Final article on topic

Original Article:

As reported here, Dallas (Obanion) Williams is a young child who potentially was facing felony assault charges stemming from an allegation that he bit a staff member at his school when she attempted to physically restrain him with the help of another grown up. When the mother, Tina, arrived that day, she had found both grownups lying on top of her 62 lb son. There is a long history of the school’s choice to use restraint on Dallas that has resulted in multiple injuries on the child. However, it was reported by his mom, that no one mentioned pressing charges against Dallas until after the mom refused to sign a consent form to allow ANY school personnel to restrain Dallas, regardless of training.


The school staff, the Juvenile Court Officer and the prosecutor’s office were contacted and all three said “No comment.”


Tina Obanion was to appear for an informal hearing on February 25, 2010 at 3:45 p.m. to discuss the potential outcomes of these charges. Tina Obanion is to refrain from discussing the school or its personnel but was able to tell us via the Facebook Page that the charges were not going to be pursued. At this time, however, there is nothing in place at the school to ensure that this does not occur once again.


Michael Robinson, founder of The Office of Autism Advocacy, got involved and left comments of support. He, and his staff at The Office of Special Education Advocacy, has been instrumental in helping Tina file due process to get Dallas additional supports and services as well as pursue criminal charges against the staff.


Mr. Robinson stated: “To all that called, wrote, faxed: The Chief Juvenile Officer stated to me today while I gave them a statement on the Administrative Law Action taken by O.S.E.A that : " We were inundated with phone calls and faxes from not only all over America , but the world. I'm writing a document up to include this in his file”


Examiner contacted Mr. Robinson prior to the hearing for an interview following his Facebook comments on the Nancy Grace page that he and his office were going to get involved.


Examiner: How did you get involved in Dallas' case? How did you hear about it?


Mr. Robinson: I was contacted by the mother and multiple other advocates that work on the local or state level. I heard about it on the nearly 200 yahoo listservs that I get feeds from and as well on Facebook. I first heard about the case before it was on any of these and then spoke to mom a few days later and she had already started her campaign for her son's Civil Right to FAPE in the LRE and to be educated in a healthy and safe manner using positive behavioral approaches through ABA D/T verses being restrained. We’re no longer in the 1960’s. Our kids don't need electroshock therapy nor do they need to have tackling squads ready with quasi training in how to pin a child down and little to no training or education on positive behavior interventions.


Examiner: Why did you decide to found the Office of Autism Advocacy?


Mr. Robinson: I first founded the Office of Advocacy for Autistic Children in 1996 after a career ending wreck in a NASCAR sanctioned race. After 8 months of injury and recovery, I noticed my son was showing the telltale signs of Autism which I am educated to actually diagnose if I had the desire to be licensed.


The fight for an appropriate education even in the 90's when it was 'easy' to get a fully paid in home ABA Discrete trials program almost anywhere, one still had to fight to initially get it or pay an attorney a high rate.. Which wasn't bad then but now can be up to 40,000 or more. That's a big down payment on a house, not a FREE Appropriate public education. The Office of Autism Advocacy is a spinoff from the original and is a Lobbying entity. The Office of Special Education Advocacy is the org. that is handling the case for Dallas. Lots of Advocacy!! My son was my driving force. Helping others and attempting to help as many as possible from facing what Dallas faced has been the primary fight although gaining FAPE in general is hard for many. Nowadays, it takes a calculated 'attack' to gain what should be automatically given.


Examiner: Do you know of any other cases of autistic children facing charges in the United States, other than Dallas Williams and Zahquery Price, as a result of physical restraint and seclusion practices?


Mr. Robinson: Yes. Many many more. A law called FERPA doesn't allow disclosure of educational records or information within them without a release. Although it's not always applicable to just anyone, if I've worked on the case it must be within the disclosure period to talk about it. In 2009, my organization handled a total of 27 cases of children arrested in 9 states. Several in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania. As well as others in Arkansas and throughout the country in other states, there were even more that my office did not represent. All but one was for the exact same thing. Children from age 5 to 13 fighting to get out of Prone Restraint. Sometimes disguised as CPI, PRONE is often used even in states such as California where in a recent IEP meeting I had the displeasure of having an actual B.C.B.A. tell me about his prone restraint program. I was shocked to say the least, and with many past clients that have deceased to this, it takes a lot to shock me.


Mr. Robinson further stated: “" Personally, as a father of a 16 year old with Autism I have to separate the emotion that comes to my mind when I work on cases such as this, I must commend Tina Obanion for keeping her cool and making wise decisions in regards to her son's future. More parents need to stand up and speak out when they know their child is not receiving an appropriate education. "


It is a good thing that Dallas is no longer facing these charges but many more currently are and will continue to be the ones blamed without proper legislation in place to prevent it.


One reader, named Erin, wrote on the article about Zahquery Price,

“Let's try a social experiment. The next time you're out in public, (you need a buddy to help), pick some random person (preferably someone that looks confused or already upset, like a senior citizen or a pregnant woman), grab them and try pulling them down to the ground to restrain them. Don't let go. Keep yelling at them to stop behaving that way while applying more pressure. When they fight back in self defense, because they have no idea who you are and why the hell you are holding them down against their will, call the police and have them arrested for felony assault.


Gee, that sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Well that's exactly what that boy went through. He had absolutely no idea why people were treating him like that. Fighting back when attacked is an instinctual reaction for survival.”


To ensure that this does not happen again, please contact your state congress members, you can find your local representatives and senators by clicking here. Below is a script you can follow to ask for support for federal legislation.

Ask to speak to the person working on education issues, as usually you will end up speaking with a personnel department member and not the senator or representatives themselves.

Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you represent (if any)


Message 1: “I am calling to urge (Senator’s name) to co-sponsor S. 2860, legislation preventing harmful use of restraint and seclusion in schools.”


Or


Message 2: “I am calling to urge (Representative’s name) to co-sponsor H.R. 4247, legislation preventing harmful use of restraint and seclusion in schools.”

_____


 

Comments

  • Evelyn 4 years ago

    Hello, I have two children on the autism spectrum. I heard about situations like what Dallas is going through, but I am shocked that it's becoming a common thing. Very sad. Your article is very informative. Thank you.

  • Heather E. Sedlock 4 years ago

    Evelyn, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I, too, was so shocked to hear of so many cases. After speaking with Mr. Robinson, I had an attorney friend of mine do a search and he found over 100 cases where children under the age of 18 were facing felony assault charges stemming from a physical restraint process. The majority (over 80 I believe) of the cases were children with autism.

    I can understand where this process is needed by criminal justice personnel and by residential treatment personnel, etc. when the children are combative, assaulting ALREADY... but this use is totally wrong and there's a better way of ensuring an autistic child does not "meltdown."

  • Concerned 4 years ago

    If parents are concerned about inappropriate punishments being meted out to their children, I suggest they contact an attorney who specializes in Special Education law immediately.

    It is certainly NOT UNUSUAL for teachers and paraprofessionals being assaulted by out of control children.

    Happens commonly within schools throughout the US all the time.

    Talk to a teacher who works with SpEd kids.

    That being said, the schools and police need policies in place with dealing with such occurrences.

    Of course, with biting one worries about HIV.

    This is an important topic and thanks for writing the column.

  • Heather E. Sedlock 4 years ago

    Concerned-

    Thanks for commenting. You're certainly right. There are reasons for physical restraint to be used at times. However, I just can't understand why it took two full-size grown ups to hold down a frail 62 lb boy. In THIS case, I don't think it was warranted.

    As far as attorneys, in this case, the mom was a single mom with at least two special needs boys... cost of medical care sapping up anything she may have earned as "extra" that could have paid for an attorney. Lay Person Advocates are the next step but even some of those are or can be expensive. Some do the work pro bono for as long as they can but need funding to ensure they can help cover costs such as court filing fees and what not.

    I was able to confirm with the hotline in CO that a call had been made to report possible, suspected abuse for Dallas on behalf of his mother and just as she said they were unable to investigate it because she didn't have enough information about the claim. She did what she could.

  • angela 4 years ago

    The charges against Dallas may have been dropped but I can assure you it will happen again. My daughter was arrested 2 times at school. Both times she threw a book at the teacher. Both times her BIP was violated. Both times the behavior could have been avoided if the school followed the BIP and understood the disability. Both times the teacher was not hurt (as per own own words in the police report). The second time she was charged with a felonly.

  • Carmella M. Palmieri 4 years ago

    Although autistic children can be hard to handle, our school personell need to learn how to better cope with an autistic child instead of trying to restrain them. To charge this child with a felony is a CRIME!! Maybe he was trying to protect himself from being restrained. In 2007 my child was "restrained" by a school staff member causing a spiral break in my child's arm. My child also told me he went to sleep after the break but I believe the 270 lb woman that was on top of my 70 lb. child may have been the culprit of his unconsiousness. It is hard to get the WHOLE story when your child has limited verbal skills and ends up getting so worked up thinking about it that he just breaks down. Stand up and advocate for your child now!! They can't do it themselves.

  • Concerned-Parent 4 years ago

    Wow! Dallas,could have been hurt more, or worse, died. A child's air can be shut-off when improperly restrained. That type of restraint isn't even used @ Heartland & the State Hosp. I worked @ Heartland for 6 yrs & family that works @ the state hosp. This school system didn't work well with my child, either. My child has ADD, Speech/Sound Disorders & severe developmental delay. After 5 yrs of spec. ed & IEPs my child was still @ a K-grade level. Since all this we moved & the new school district works well with her and her behaviors. She has only had one incident of severe behavior all yr. They were able to talk her down and resume class. I have had many issues w/ the principal of Bryan Elementary & that school admits no faults with anything. They couldn't even explain why she was 9 w/ a K-grade academic level. It's not even been a yr yet @ the new school and she is @ a 2nd grade academic level. As, far as I'm concered that school is of poor value & quality.

  • JerryStephen™ 3 years ago

    I see you're back posting under phoney names again, huh Mikey? This is name #53 here, but I know you're over there on MIC with your other fake names and frankly, you're not worth the effort to count all your different aliases. Is your NASCAR pit crew, crew chief, and chief mechanic over there, too?

    Midnight In Chicago is an "international tourism and culture initiative" that does NOTHING for tourism and has ZERO cultural benefit to anybody. What MIC does or says is irrelevant and insignificant, since all Elyse Bruce seems to know is how to do is to buddy up with the likes of you, a confirmed FRAUD, and others who admit they're AFRAID to use their real names or post anywhere else other than MIC. You both use the same M.O. -- you whine about being attacked when in fact you're doing most of the attacking.

    I find it hilarious that you ALL complain that nobody is answering any questions on MIC -- the truth is, nobody is paying any attention to you there other than to read the latest desperate post and laughing at how pathetic you are all sounding. We don't respond any more because you're not worth responding TO. *shrugs*

    I'm sure once Heather gets the links above working you'll pull this off your "WALL" , since exposing your few "real" believers to the hypocrisy and fraudulent claims you make wouldn't be good for your "cash flow"...

    Remember, Mikey... We have the supporting documents from REAL attorneys, REAL 'ex-clients' of yours, REAL court documents. I can't wait to meet you in court and see you present your "proof" from MIC's altered screenshots and soap opera conspiracy theories.

  • Profile picture of Heather Sedlock
    Heather Sedlock 3 years ago

    MIC has not "proven" that I've lied. Ever.

    And I never said I didn't publish this article or deny that I wrote it first. In fact, I mentioned that this was the article that I published and then began to be bombarded by people coming forward to tell me more information about Mr. Robinson. At the time of the second article, there were 75 families that had come forward. If it had been just one or two, it could have been written off as just one of those things that happen from time to time. Parents are unhappy with the results and there wasn't anything an advocate could do otherwise. Since the second article was published, even more families have come forward with information.

    This was not such a case. I stand by my word and have the documentation to prove it all.

  • Heather E. Sedlock 3 years ago

    Looks like the comment Jerry and I replied to has been removed. I did not delete it and so either a) the person who left it deleted it or b) it has been reported and Examiner.com decided to delete it.

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