theebrandenburgs blogspear

This page is designed to share information about our struggle to gain equity for our unique children and their learning styles in a public education system that is designed primarily to teach a single type of learner, and which is increasingly sidelined by fiscal and philosophical issues that challenge the core of its collective existence. We are especially interested in unique learners, and the talented people who teach them, their families, and our shared value as human beings. We seek the end of discrimination, the end of seclusion, separation, and isolation, as well as an end to chemical and physical restraints that are commonly used to assault our children and our unique interpretations of the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Connect the Dots......Rotenberg Center-BRI-Tobinworld

Anyone who knows us is no stranger to the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) and their questionable practices. We haven't made it any secret how opposed we are to the use of aversives to control behavior,  and our opposition to the enslavement of our people through the use of any restraints, be they chemical, physical, or mechanical.

We have discussed the Judge Rotenberg Center and its methods in at least two blogs here at, and these blogs had run in the Sierra Madre Patch- Institutionalization and Segregation: We Must Not Forget the Past  and Spare the Rod..........Spoil the Child? as well as in a slightly different form at Thinking Person's Guide to Autism as Restraint and Seclusion: In Your Child's School and Nationally

We are sorry to say, it's time to start calling some people out, helping you to continue to connect the dots, and yes, it is time to raise hell. 

Once again, the Judge Rotenberg Center is back in the news, this time for an outrageous assault on a human being that is currently making its way around on the internet, and which they tried to suppress. This assault took place against Andre McCollins, and had been sealed at the request of the JRC for eight years- until April 10, 2010. The video shows 18 year old McCollins being tortured for the apparently serious infraction of refusing to remove his jacket, and punishable with his being shocked 31 times.

The JRC is located in Canton, Massachusetts, in the Boston area. From its outreach website it seems like a pleasant enough place. Nice couches, computers, and bright, cheerful paintings and murals. The Center's information cites data from late 2004, stating that of the 228 people served,  75% were school age, that 50% have behavior or psychiatric disorders, with 50%  developmentally disabled and/or autistic-like. Dig a little deeper into the website, however, and the tone becomes somewhat more questionable and ominous, especially in light of the video:
Provided the parent/guardian grants JRC permissions for needed treatment procedures, JRC has a policy of neither rejecting nor expelling a student solely because of the behavioral difficulties the student presents....... Once a student is enrolled at JRC, and provided that parents make available the permissions JRC needs in order to carry out effective treatment, parents do not have to worry about receiving a call asking them to remove their child because he/she is too difficult to handle.
The saddest thing about those permissions granted is that parents put their trust into these professionals, and trusted that the professionals, in turn, were following a code of ethics that includes a certain level of humanity, and of the empathy that some in the neurotypical centric world mistakenly assume thatpeople on the spectrum are somehow lacking. 

Last year the JRC founder Dr. Matthew Israel, who founded the JRC in 1971, informed the JRC Board of Directors that he was retiring on June 1, 2011, and was going to move to California where he would join his wife Judy. What the JRC website doesn't tell you is that Matthew Israel stepped down in order to avoid prison time for two charges- misleading a grand jury, and accessory after the fact of a crime. The destruction of video evidence was the center of the case. According to Charles Dumas, his son was woken and given 77 skin shocks were applied as a response to a phone call which were placed as a prank. Seven employees were fired prior than the bigger fish being caught, and then released. These don't look like little buzzers, either. Watch this newscasters reaction to one of the shocks that she received. Two years ago these transgressions were formally addressed in the report Torture, Not Treatment. Torture. Think about it. Tortured for being wired differently. Tortured for not taking off one's jacket. Tortured....... in response to a prank phone call.

So, the furthest west in the continental USA that you can go from the Boston area would about Los Angeles, California? Well, we happen to live in California..... and ..... surprise! Guess who is in California? Doesn't take much to connect the dots. Matthew L. Israel. Wife: Judy Weber. Judy Weber is the executive director of Tobinworld in Glendale, California, which is approximately ten miles from where we live. According to their website,
Tobinworld is a non-profit school for children and young adults with behavior problems. Typically students have been classified as severely emotionally disabled, autistic or developmentally disabled. Often their problems are so severe that it has been difficult or impossible for them to be accepted by, or successfully educated in, regular public school programs. 
Tobinworld jumped out at us because this was one of the names that was thrown at us by our local school district's former director as a possible placement for someone near and dear to us.  Tobinworld serves students from Los Angeles Unified School District and Pasadena Unified school District. They proudly proclaim that Tobinworld is certified by the California Department of Education and operates from two locations. The second location is in Antioch, California, in the SF Bay area. 

As we searched through the website for Tobinworld, we found no mention of Judith Weber's husband, Matthew Israel. They were married in 2006. We did find a nice fluff piece on the Tobinworld website, albeit one that is lacking in telling..... well, in telling the entire story. 
TOBINWORLD has been in existence in the Los Angeles Area since October, 1977. It was brought about by the concern of one mother, Judith Weber, to provide her severely autistic son with an appropriate education. As other parents learned of her efforts to educate her son, they asked if she could help their children, which she did. Soon the school district urged her to start a school and she named it TOBINWORLD, after her son, Tobin. In just eight years, her school grew from 12 students to over 275 with a student body from kindergarten to 12th grade. TOBINWORLD serves students ages 5 years through 22 years. As of this school year we have over 280 students who live in communities throughout the greater Los Angeles area, representing more than a dozen school districts. The school is located in Glendale in five beautiful brick buildings.
No mention is made of Ms. Weber-Israel's connection to the Judge Roteberg Center, though Tobinworld is referred to as a "sister school" to JRC in a very telling and thorough 2007 Mother Jones article. Israel opened the Behavior Research Institute in 1977 with Judy Weber in Northridge (see fluff quote above), and by 1982 Israel's BRI and their methods were being called into question- 64 pages worth- for its use of aversives and punishment.  Nor is any mention made of the death of 14 year old Danny Aswad- who died in 1981, and which resulted in Israel being forbidden to step foot on the Northridge BRIThat was easily solved, they just shut down BRI, morphed and renamed it Tobinword, and moved to Glendale. They kept the part of the history they wanted- that grandfathers them in and gives them legitimacy- but they left out the rest.  

If the heat gets too hot, we predict they'll move to another state. Changing the company name did wonders for Israel in the Golden State. Given the history of BRI and JRC, we have NO REASON to trust these people. NONE. Too many children were harmed by this guys pseudo Skinnerian psychobabble.

Do we believe in guilt by association? In this case? Absolutely. 

We ran into tons of dead links, tons of them. That is very telling. Tell you something else, a person who would destroy evidence would also have attorneys threaten to shut down links or hire a service to clean it up......  Sooner or later the truth will be known.  Leopards don't change their spots. If you are a parent of children in LAUSD or PUSD, ask your board members if they are familiar with Israel, and ask them if they think sending children to the Tobinworld offshoot is acceptable given the history of Israel and Weber, and their interest in JRC. When the courts can't smoke out the rats, sometimes it takes the court of opinion.


WE SUPPORT OCCUPY JUDGE ROTENBERG CENTER AND THEIR CALL FOR NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION JUNE 2, 2012. Please click on the link and educate yourself. We also suggest you follow their links and read more. Knowledge is power.