The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, is the only special needs school in the country that utilizes electric shocks to control its students. That may soon change.
According to CBS News, the Food and Drug Administration is now considering a ban on the same electronic devices that caused an uproar in 2012, when tape depicting Rotenberg Center teachers shocking a student 31 times during a 7 hour period surfaced.
Andre McCollins, then 17, suffered burns and sued the school for repeatedly administering the punishment while he was restrained on a wooden board. The case has since settled out of court and the Rotenberg Center told CBS it no longer uses the restraint boards.
The center insists that the graduated electronic deregulator, or GED, skin shock treatment is the only effective way to keep students from injuring themselves or others. But the program raised concerns among some parents and center employees.
Former Rotenberg Center teacher Greg Miller told Boston.com in 2012 that his job sometimes depended on shocking students. He chose to leave the center after refusing to do so when responding to minor incidents, such as a teen refusing to remove his coat.
“Exercise multiple times a day, engaging the students in interesting lessons, and building trust between students and teachers all show results,” he said. “You don’t need to shock or drug them.”
While the school released a statement detailing two Revere parents calling the practice “a miracle” for their child, the parent of the videotaped student did not feel the same. McCollins’ mother told Boston.com she saw the footage as evidence of her son “being tortured.”
In 2013, a UN official called autism shock therapy in the US a form of torture, and called upon the Judge Rotenberg Center to halt their electroshock practices. Pending the FDA ban, the Canton school may finally end its GED program.