Press Release

School Board member calls for whistleblower protection

Submitted as a press release by Curtis Hier

Fair Haven — A member of the Slate Valley Unified School District board is calling for the expansion of whistleblower protection for state employees to cover all school employees. Currently, state employees are protected from retaliation for reporting “waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violations of law, or a threat to the health of employees, the public, or persons under the care of the State without fear of reprisal.” Curtis Hier, who was elected to the school board in March, said the protection is needed for what gets witnessed in schools.

“I can honestly say that I’ve had school employees in the district report to me every single one of those things,” Hier said. “But they almost always request that I don’t reveal their names.”

Hier has written to his state representative and state senators to ask them to support legislation to curb restraint and seclusion in schools, as well as the possibility of drafting legislation to expand whistleblower protection. He says he got a quick and favorable response from Senator Terry Williams (R-Rutland). Williams noted that the whistleblower language “should be easy to fix.”

Slate Valley and Hier have been at odds over the dismissal of a teacher, a physical attack by a teacher on a student, and the use of restraint and seclusion in the schools. “The forced resignation of the special education teacher is exactly what whistleblower protection should prevent,” Hier noted.

Attention to restraint and seclusion practices began when Hier posted a picture of the “blue room” at Fair Haven Grade School. The post prompted many comments from parents and former students. Hier began requesting redacted documents regarding restraint and seclusion. He will be heading to court to try to force their release.

The Slate Valley school board and administration has pushed back on Hier. In July, the board passed a resolution asking him to resign. It has also supported a request by an office secretary asking for Hier’s emails, texts, and the release of his personnel file from when he taught in the district.

Categories: Press Release

3 replies »

  1. So there are valid and therapeutic reasons for providing a low stimulus environment for some children with particular needs. It should be part of a plan in place and should have very stringent safety protocols. Since we have very limited resources for children and parents attempting to manage severe mental and behavioral issues in the community, the schools are forced to take on some of the responsibilities to keep other children and staff safe. That being said, and understanding people all too well, there is room for abuse and neglect in any system. And oversight is always important. Educated, experienced oversight.
    For instance, a weighted blanket or similar restraint can be extraordinarily therapeutic for some who deal with autism spectrum disorders. However, from a different perspective, it may appear highly suspect. Even cruel. Perspective is important. So please don’t bash a process without thorough examination and exploration and explanation. Again, not saying improvements couldn’t be made or abuses occur, just saying, don’t jump to conclusions. An uninformed perspective may cause alarm bells to ring for the wrong reason.

    • Incorrect, a quiet room should be prescribed or requested by the child AND their parents! AND there should be no door on it!
      My child was terrorized by being told the para was going to get him taken away from his “precious mommy”. And then thrown into the room afraid she could keep him in there forever.

      I opted out, my son was then restrained and injured AGAIN the very next day.

      I pulled him out he has been in remote school while I fight this out with the school.

      There is no reason anything should be used on a child ever. I went through 22 years of public and formal education without any school staff laying 1 finger on me—- and that is how it should be.

      I have plenty of judgement for this practice and would like to see the staff who abuse children this way put in jail. The above commenter sickens me!!!!