Sunday, March 04, 2007


6-year-old with autism arrested and read his rights by Hawaii police

This is 6-year-old Koa Burgo, who usually attends Hookena School on the Big Island of Hawaii. He has been diagnosed with autism.

And this is the form police used to read him his rights when they arrested him for 2nd degree assault. Yes, a 6-year-old child with a disability has been charged and read his rights.

KITV reported on Friday that Koa jumped onto the back of his teacher after she told him to slow down when he was running. The teacher was injured and filed a TRO that is keeping Koa out of school.

Never mind federal law that describes the school's responsibility to have an educational plan in place that defines what to do if there is are behavioral issues. This is the Hawaii Department of Education, the one that was under federal court supervision for a decade because it couldn't provide basic services for Hawaii's special needs children.

Does the school have the required behavior intervention plan in place? If so, why wasn't it followed? The teacher is recovering and not in school, so why is there a TRO that prevents Koa from attending?

Koa's mother said that she has asked repeatedly for a one-on-one aide with training in autism. She said that he is still at a pre-Kindergarden level even though he should be at the first grade level. For children with autism, there is a window of opportunity which shouldn't be missed--they need (and the law requires they be given) the supports necessary to learn. If the school resists, the child may never make up the lost time.

Does this school understand autism and have they provided him with appropriate supports?

Arresting children for behavior such as having an outburst (which is common to some children with autism, especially if their educational needs have been neglected) or dropping or throwing pencils, for example, used to be quite common. Arresting these children does them no good, certainly.

Koa's mother said in the KITV interview that he needs help, not punishment. I think anyone would agree. Except for some police and school officials, it seems.

For Koa, and for other children with autism in Hawaii's schools, there will be a fork in the road after graduation. In one direction can be a college education and a good job. In the other direction could be dependence, loss of opportunity, or worse. Which road the student will take is determined by what happens at a very young age. Time is critical for this student right now. The DOE needs to begin working immediately for his success.

Many parents have said that the state has regressed badly since Judge David Ezra ended the Felix Consent Decree. Here's some evidence to support that.


This is absolutely ridiculous!! How can the police, the school and the moronic teacher be so ignorant? They are the ones with a 'problem' and not poor Koa. I have a son with Autism and I know what a 'meltdown' is like! For God's sake, wake up, world! YOU might end up having a loved one with autism one day, and then it'll be too late to mend whatever damage you might have done to other people who's loved ones have autism! This is absolutely DISGUSTING! AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

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