CONFIRMED BY ILL. SUPREME COURT– YOU ARE VIEWING THE MOST DANGEROUS BLOG IN ILLINOIS. This blog warranted a 3 year suspension by the ARDC/Jerome Larkin! Mottos: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant". Justice Louis Brandeis ; "If the truth can destroy something, then it deserves to be destroyed" Carl Sagan; "Justice is Truth in Action" Benjamin Disraeli. Illinois uses the ARDC to quash dissenting attorney activist blogs ; "The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments" — (1776-First Amendment preamble adopted by 8 US colonies)
Patent and Trademark Attorney practicing in Chicago, Illinois accepting clients nationwide. We also do trademarks, general intellectual property and business litigation. See our website at www.DenisonLaw.com. Now suspended for 3 years by the Illinois Atty Regn and Disciplinary Commission for blogging about corruption and telling truths that the ARDC wants to cover up. Still a patent agent, tho.
In 2013, Dr. Farid Fata of Michigan was convicted of health care fraud of the worst sort–billing insurance, medicare and medicaid for false diagnoses of cancer treatments and chemo. But then in an effort to further cover up the crimes, the are hospitals started billing patient families outrageous sums for getting their loved ones medical records.
It’s a system of fraud, corruption and greed. And it clearly wasn’t just one doctor… many others should have been imprisoned too apparently.
more than 550 patients and $34 million dollars in fraud.
Continuing the saga of Miriam Solo Greenfield Faskowitz’s endeavors in Probate cases, the Illinois State ATG just filed an appearance in the Estate of Ralla Klepak.
I would post this to her timeline, but I’m afraid the powers that be will shut it down. Shssh, don’t tell them.
From the docket sheet today:
Activity Date: 01/07/2020
Estate of: KLEPAK RALLA
APPEARANCE FILED – FEE WAIVED
ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE
100 W RANDOLPH ST
CHICAGO , IL 60601
Rep, Minor or Claimant:
Shared Case Number:
Activity Date: 01/07/2020
Estate of: KLEPAK RALLA
APPEARANCE FILED – FEE WAIVED
ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE
100 W RANDOLPH ST
CHICAGO , IL 60601
Rep, Minor or Claimant:
Shared Case Number:
worActivity Date: 01/07/2020
Estate of: KLEPAK RALLA
NOTICE OF FILING FILED
ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE
100 W RANDOLPH ST
CHICAGO , IL 60601
Rep, Minor or Claimant:
Shared Case Number:
as Ken Ditkowsky has oft said, you can’t even make this stuff up.
Word is on the street, Miriam Solo is telling people Ralla Klepak has $23 million in her estate.
The son is clearly missing from her will. Where is he?
Jorge Bautista named in the will (at the wrong address) is 71 years old and clearly not her son. but he was served at the wrong address according to Instandcheckmate.com. Why was that? Is he in on it? Is he going to be excluded? WTFreak is going on here?
Where is the son?
She told me she had a son she loved. She told me she adopted him at age 10.
1) Estate of Marjorie Ivy, a long time girl friend of brother Mordecai Faskowitz
On April 11, 2014, Chris Ivy, the nephew of Marjorie Ivy, files a Petition to become the Independent Administrator of his deceased sister Marjorie Ivy. Page 1
According to a October 11, 2013 article in the Chicago Tribune, Mordecai Faskowitz shared an apartment with 70 year old Marjorie Ivy, page 12. The Cook County medical examiner’s office determined that Marjorie Ivy died from multiple stab wounds and cuts in a homicide. Mordechai Faskowitz was held without bail on a murder charge.
Marjorie Ivy had been dead for days, because a man who had keys to the building discovered her body because he had not seen her for days and the apartment was emitting a foul odor. Page 12.
Mordecai F. Admitted to the crime but had to be tazed by police so they could arrest him. Page 13. A friend said of Ivy, that she was a very nice person “who was passionate about animal rights.”
The value of Marjorie’s estate in the Petition was listed as $850,000 by the nephew Chris Ivy.
On page 3, a listing of Marjorie’s assets shows a Vanguard IRA, a Drefus Crop investment account and a New York Life Insurance policy, all naming Moredecai Faskowitz as Beneficiary and/or his trust, Mordechai Faskowitz Supplemental Care Trust. Page 2, ¶ d indicates that it was Razel Faskowitz who created the MFSC Trust naming Miriam Greenfield as Trustee in 2006.
Page 4 shows that Mordecai was found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. Para. 10 relates that Marjorie died of more than 40 stab wounds.
Page 2 shows that the Estate of Marjorie Ivy attempted to reclaim all assets left to Mordecai on under the Illinois Slayer Statute which provides that “A person who intentionally and unjustifiably causes the death of another shall not receive any property, benefit or other interest by reason of the death…in any capacity.” Para 11.
Pages 9 to 11 shows that Marjorie Ivy has some 28 nieces and nephews with an interest in her Estate.
Miriam Solo then files an Affidavit with the Estate of Marjorie Ivy in which she explains: 1) she is the younger sister of Mordecai (page 15). That she met with Mordecai and Marjorie (Gayle) Ivy in June 2016 for Marjorie to “provide for each other” and “Gayle’s specific desire to add to the trust, of which I was the trustee.” ¶ 6.
Question: how is it that Marjorie dies October 13, 2013, Mordechai is put in jail, but then she and Mordechai are meeting with Miriam Solo in June of 2016 to move Marjorie’s assets into Mordechai’s estate upon her death? Why is Miriam Solo helping with this when Mordechai is her brother and she is the trustee of his “Supplemental Needs Trust”? When Mordechai dies, his Estate flows into a Supplemental Needs Trust (again, Miriam Solo is the Trustee) (see below), but why would Marjorie Ivy want to leave her Estate to Avrohom Soloveichik whom she is not related to, upon Mordechai’s passing?
The Affidavit continues on with ¶ ¶ 8 to 33 detailing Mordecahi’s alleged schizophrenic episodes which led up to Marjorie’s death caused by over 40 stab wounds from Mordechai. The real question is, why was Miriam Solo acutely aware of Mordechai’s deteriorating mental health, but she did not make certain that he had his meds and was taking them. She was the only sibling living in Chicago at the time, and she had his POA and he was at her house sometimes during August to September 2013 and Miriam Solo knew his mental condition was extremely poor at that time, yet she did nothing about it.
The probate court, after briefing and hearing, the court then issues an Order that the Petition to disqualify Faskowitz under the Slayer Statute is denied. Page 28. This was based upon a Petition for Summary Judgment filed by Miriam Greenfield on December 7, 2017, page 53 to 63. Miriam Greenfield signed as “agent pursuant to the power of attorney for Mordechai Faskowitz”, p. 36. How did Miriam Solo get this Power of Attorney when Mordechai has been incompetent for years and subject to shcizophrenic and dangerous episodes for most of his life?
A dispute ensues over Mordecahi being able to answer Interrogatory questions prior to hearing because he is institutionalized. Pages 29 to 34.
Page 37 show the beneficiary change request to Moredecai Faskowitz and a secondary beneficiary, Adrienne Russ, both listed as friends. This was done June 23, 2010 and not in June 2016
An Interpleader action was also filed over the the New York Life policy. Page 39.
It is not known from the court records if Mordecai’s deposition was ever taken.
It does not appear in either the court records or in the decision on Appeal, if anyone noticed that the standard to convict for an intentional homocide is “beyond a reasonable doubt’ in criminal court, but there is a much lesser standard of “more probable than not” to disinherit a person in Probate court.
By the time the Interpleader is filed, there are now 45 nieces and nephews claiming an interest in this estate. Pages 41 to 44.
The decision was based upon a Summary Judgment Motion which had argued that Res Judicata applied to the finding of NGRI, and therefore Mordecai was barred from inheriting from his stabbing victim Marjorie.
The Appellate court ruled at ¶ 30 however: A Finding of NGRI on a Charge of First Degree Murder Does Not Create an Irrebuttable Presumption Under the Slayer Statute.
The issue for Marjorie Ivy, stabbed to death over 40 times by Mordecai, was taken up on Appeal and the Illinois Appellate court ruled that the trial court’s decision that someone found “not guilty by reason of insanity” is not irrefutably covered under the Slayer Statute. They find that the use of Summary Judgment was inappropriate for the issues at hand, that is whether the killing was intentional. The court noted that admissions spoken to various doctors during examination could not be excepted from the hearsay rule and were not considered. No deposition was ever taken of Mordecai and since he died on May 15, 2019 (page 49), it is doubtful that there is any possibility of preventing his estate, his Trust, operated now by Miriam Solo, to go to the rightful heirs or the nieces and nephews of Marjorie Gayle Ivy.
No new pleadings have been filed as of that decision. A status is set for Jan. 14, 2019.
Note “Miriam F. Solo” is listed as an attorney on appeal, presumably for brother Mordechai Faskowitz. ¶ 15, “Respondent, through his agent” filed an answer to the Petitions to disinherit him under the Slayer Statute. Meaning Miriam Solo was the agent for Mordechai, but where is her Power of Attorney, when was it executed and how did she know he was in his right mind when it was executed. Or, is it a durable power of attorney that would survive Mordechai’s insanity and incompetence? In any case, Mordechai Faskowitz had been confined to the Elgin Mental Health Hospital since his criminal trial, and perhaps before that up until his death in May of 2019.
More important, the will Miriam Solo filed as Executor was prepared just days before the death of brother Mordecai and it no doubt had to be Executed and witnessed at the Elgin State Mental Hospital. Was Mordechai even competent at that time, not insane, not mentally disabled? After all these facts, that would be quite a stretch to say Mordechai was even competent to have a will. And what about the POA which was used to file all the documents and pleadings in this case? How could a POA be valid when Mordechai was regularly seeing demons and hearing voices? Was it a durable POA granted years earlier when Mordechai was more mentally stable?
And while Marjorie Ivy’s estate is purported to go to the Special Needs Trust for Mordechai Faskowitz, his will at page 45 states that his Estate will go to the Special Needs Trust for Avorihim Soloveichik, another disabled individual. In these special needs trusts, however, the beneficiaries are incapacitated or incompetent, so who is overseeing the management of these funds?
More important, it would appear that Miriam Soloveichik back in 1994 was appointed the Guardian of Avohom Soloveichik, 94 P 10177. Despite the fact she was legally required to file an annual report on the ward, as well as an accounting if the ward held any personal property, Miriam Solo has filed just two annual reports on the ward, so how is then that Miriam Solo is qualified in any manner to manage a trust with $850,000 in it for Avrohom Soloveichik, a disabled person. (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1W-CwP1zSqtSZXGDIVA88xJHy8ZKL4WOo)
2) Estate of Mordechai Faskowitz
Right before the Appellate court decision of June 26, 2019 was handed down, Mordechai Faskowitz dies on May 15, 2019, page 49, and younger sister Miriam Solo Greenfield Petitions to become his Executor.
While all along during the Probate proceedings for Marjorie Ivy in which Miriam Solo was arguing on behalf of Mordechai Faskowitz that Mordechai was hopelessly insane, seeing and hearing demons, stabbing them and skipping his meds, we find that Mordechai Faskowitz, who never gave a deposition or answered critical Interrogatories, is now able to execute a will and is suddenly of “sound mind and memory”. Page 45.
Question, which is it? Was Mordecai hopelessly schizophrenic, seeing demons, stabbing at demons, or is he of “sound mind and memory.” Who is manipulating his pleadings in court?
On page 45, Miriam Solo Greenfield is appointed Executor of his Will and his entire inheritance is amazingly provided to Avrohom Soloveichik Supplemental Needs Trust, even though Mordechai has numerous nieces and nephews and Avrohom has been, for years, placed in an institution in New York as a disabled adult.
The witnesses are illegible, and not typed into this will but appear to be Miriam Greenfield at her address 6538 N Sacramento, and an attorney friend of hers, Jonathan Shimberg, 9003 Lincolnwood Dr, Evanston, IL 60203, Page 46.
NOTE: this will, likely created by Miriam Solo, is not notarized. The names of the witnesses are not typed out. No phone numbers are emails are provided for the witnesses.
Listed as heirs on Page 51 are Avrohom Soloveichik Suppplemental Needs Trust with Miriam Soloveichik as Trustee (now listed as M. Greenfield, Trustee), together with brother Moshe Faskowitz, and sisters Michele Triester and Brandy Tuchman. On page 52 it also lists Miriam Solo Greenfield. Avrohom Soloveichik is Miriam’s eldest special needs disabled son by her first marriage.
Further provided in this estate is an Affidavit of Heirship noting that Chaim Faskowitz (DOD Aug. 1997) and Razel (Rose) Jofen (DOD Dec. 2018) are the parents of the decedent Mordechai Faskowitz. Page 47.
In this Affidavit Chaim and Razel or Rose Faskowitz had 5 children: Moshe, Mordechai, Miriam, Michele and Brandy.
2) Estate of Irving (Isaac) Faskowitz (Fisk) and Sofia in Florida
On April 8, 1999, Sofia (Fisk) Faskowitz died leaving her entire estate to her husband, Irving Fisk.Page 100 and 98.
On June 22, 1999, Irving (Isaac) (Fisk) Faskowitz died, but his will only name his wife who had predeceased him. Pages 101 and 96.
Neither of the wills executed by Sofia and Irving Fisk named any other beneficiaries other than themselves.
A probate proceeding, PC 99-307 was opened in Florida and Rose Faskowitz, mother of Miriam Faskowitz Soloveichik Greenfield, promptly filed an Affidavit of Heirship (page 65) claiming that her husband’s name was Chaim, and that he was a cousin and uncle of the decedent, Irving Faskowitz. ¶ 15. This was because the decedent’s father was Isaac Faskowitz, and Isaac’s father was Mordecai Faskowitz. Mordecai had another Son Moshe. Son Moshe married the daughter of Mordecai, or in other words, Daughter Miriam supposedly married her uncle Moshe. They had four children: Chaim, Alter Mordecai, Breina and Beila. Only Chaim had children. Chaim married the Affiant, Rose Faskowitz, and they had four children: Moshe, Miriam, Brandy and Michel. ¶ 10.
During World War II, Chaim’s entire family was in Poltusk, Poland.
The Affiant, Rose (Razel) Faskowitz, then claims the rest of the family, other than her and Chaim, perished in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
However, it must be noted that while ¶ 10 of the Affidavit of Rose Faskowitz lists four children (Moshe, Miriam, Brandy and Michel); note that in the Estate of Mordechai Faskowitz, Rose suddently has a 5th child–Mordecai.
On page 50-51, the Affidavit of heirship for Mordechai’s Estate clearly shows 4 siblings: Moshe, Brandy and Miriam. Apparently on January 5, 2001 Rose (Razel) Faskowitz forgot she had a 5th child.
We know that Miriam Greenfield Solo was involved in this because she filed a Consent and Waiver and acknowledged a copy of the Petition to Determine Beneficiaries and waived notice to hearing on the Petition to Determine Beneficiaries. (Page 65). She also received a copy of the Fla. ATG Petition to Set Aside Finding of Beneficiaries. Page 82. While brother Mordechai was remembered when he hacked his girlfriend Marjorie Gayle Ivy to death, she forgot he had to be included in this estate of alleged Uncle/Cousin Isaac Faskowitz.
Nonetheless, the Affidavit of Heirship filed by Rose (Razel) Faskowitz turns out to be utter nonsense.
On August 2, 2001, the Attorney General of Florida investigated the Probate Case of Irving (Isaac) (Fisk) Faskowitz and concluded that none of the children of Rose Faskowitz were in fact related to Irving Faskowitz, the decedent. While the Affidavit of Rose Faskowitz tells a long tale of nieces marrying their uncles (the family tree that does not branch) and harrowing escapes from Nazi occupied Europe to the US, none of that is apparently true.
From ¶ 8 of the ATG letter:
The information provided by the discovery of the decedent’s birth certificate is inconsistent with the Affidavits in support of the Petition to Determine Beneficiaries as follows:
a) the decedent’s name at birth was Isaac Faskowitz, not Irving Faskowitz, as alleged by affiants.
b) the decedent was born in the Borough of Manhattan, City of New York, State of New York; not Poland as alleged.
c) The decedent’s parents were Harry and Anne Faskowitz, not Isaac Faskowitz, as alleged.
d) The decedent did not, nor did his parents, immigrate to the United States from Poland. The decedent’s parents immigrated from Russia, and the decedent himself was born in this country. ¶ 8, p.81 ¶
It should also be noted that Isaac Faskowitz was married to Sofia Faskowitz and her death certificate says she was born in Puerto Rico and therefore was an US citizen. Nothing was said of her in the Affidavit. Most likely decedent met his wife in the large Puerto Rican community when he was young in Manhattan. The decedent was an US citizen born in New York City.
Despite the fact that the ATG of Florida researched the probate estate and found the heirs to be a fraud, no action was taken by the Florida Probate Court and on December 2006, the Estate was finally distributed with a total of $1,592,456 for 4 beneficiaries, or $398,114. Not bad for finding a similar name and cooking up affidavits.
On page 89, An agreed order was entered determining the beneficiaries to be Miriam Greenfield, Brandy Tuchman, Michel Triester and Moshe Faskowitz. No mention of brother Mordechai.
On page 91, it appears that Moshe Faskowitz, Rose Faskowitz and Dr. Jean Jofen were already to testify there were 4 children of fake Uncle/Cousin Mr. Isaac Faskowitz and not 5.
On page 93 is the Proof of service of final accounting and petition for discharge. Again, no mention of a 5th sibling in the Faskowitz sibling group. Mordechai is missing his hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Miriam Solo Soloveichik Faskowitz Greenfield is part of it.
3. Estate of Ralla Klepak
On May 3, 2019, Miriam Solo Greenfield files a Petition to become the Executor of her friend, Ralla Klepak, who passed on April 25, 2019. Page 118.
She lists the value of Ralla’s personal property at $1 million and her real estate at 2046 W. Addison Ave, Chicago for $250,000, despite the fact that Ralla’s office building, which she owns, is worth easily over one million dollars. In addition she owns a home on Addison Ave and a home in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The decedent, Ralla Klepak, has told many people that she adopted a Mexican son, however no “son” is mentioned in her will at Page 102. A Jorge Bautista at 5158 N Ashland is listed in the will, but he is not mentioned as a son. According to Instantcheckmate.com there is a person named Jorge Bautista at 5156 N Ashland and an address in Tampa, Florida. However he is 71 years old and clearly not a “son” which Ralla met and adopted at age 10 some decades back.
The bulk of the Estate is given to Miriam Solo. All the contents of Ralla’s home. Third ¶ p. 103. Jorge Bautista $500,000. Miriam Solo is given Ralla’s Puerta Del Sol South Apartment in St. Petersburg, Florida. P.105, FOURTEENTH ¶ , the rest and residue of her estate to the Ralla Klepak Trust for the Performing Arts, and Miriam Solo is to get $75,000 per year for managing the trust. Page 109, Article4 (sic). Large amounts are given to various charities on p.110. $100,000 to Victory Gardens Theater, $100,000 to Steppenwolf Theater, $100,000 to Northlight Theater, etc. Page 110
The Will appears to have been quickly drafted with tons of typos.
A typical will has the Testator initial every page of the will. No pages are initialed in this Will.
The will has an attestation clause by witnesses, but it is not notarized, as a will typically is notarized.
Sharran Greenburg is a witness, and mentioned in the will.
The will is executed 2 months before she died. Just like some others…..
Bev Cooper (the host of the show) is the daughter of 99 year old Alice Gore.
Miriam Solo (aka Soloveichik, Greenfield, Fisk, Faskowicz), was the Guardian ad Litem for Alice Gore.
11:18 – MS brought false charges against Bev Cooper and obtained a false Order of Protection
Bev Cooper had to pay to see her own mother at Warren Barr Pavillion, a nursing home 20 miles from Bev Cooper’s home. Bev Cooper loved to take care of her mother and told Miriam Solo she wanted to take her mom home and take care of mom — for free.
12:19 – Nursing home is owned by a cousin of MS
13:10 $1.5 million is billed by attorneys in fees during 3 years of guardianship
13:15 – Alice Gore loves to eat, but against her will a GI tube is inserted so she can never eat again.
14:40 – MS chooses a mentally ill granddaughter, with multiple psych hospitalizations to become the guardian of Alice Gore, over the objections and petitions of Bev Cooper to become the guardian of her own mother
15:50 – Bev Cooper cannot visit her own mother
16:08 – Bev Cooper states than MS is an animal, inhumane, and evil
There are now two wills (Klepak, Mordechai, Ivy) which all have the following similarities:
1) not notarized, witness signatures have no typed or printed names next to them so their names are easily read and known to others.
2) the decedent dies days or weeks after the will is allegedly executed (Mordechai, Klepak)
3) disabled individuals are used to move substantial amounts of money via a Trust mechanism, which is essentially a private device with no court oversight and little accountability, especially where the beneficiary is mentally deficient or incompetent. Who is looking out for this disabled person? Where is the accountability and oversight when the Beneficiary is disabled or mentally infirm himself?
CHICAGO — The inspector general of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is out with some startling statistics: 123 children died within a year of becoming involved with the child welfare system over the last fiscal year.
“This is wholly unacceptable and represents a nearly 25% increase from the prior year,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert wrote in a statement to reporters.
A deeper dive into the inspector general’s report examining the period between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, reveals of the 123 deaths, 24 were ruled homicide, 37 were accidental, 34 were deemed “natural,” 7 were suicide and the cause of death in 21 was undetermined.
DCFS’ policies and procedures have faced renewed scrutiny after the death of A.J. Freund in April 2019. DCFS was repeatedly warned of problems in the home but the 5-year-old was allowed to remain in the home. AJ’s mother plead guilty to murder and his father is awaiting trial. Two state workers who were assigned the case have been terminated.
The inspector general’s report found allegations of domestic abuse, substance abuse or mental health problems had been reported in 41 percent of all deaths.
DCFS acting Inspector General Meryl Paniak noted her office investigated all 123 deaths and provided detailed reports to the agency, legislature and governor.
“I am disheartened that many of the problems I identify here have been identified before,” Paniak wrote to the governor and legislators. “We, Illinois, must do better,” she wrote.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Governor J.B. Pritzker noted the period reflected in the study was before the governor’s first budget took effect on July 1, 2019, increasing DCFS’ budget by $128 million. That money went towards hiring 300 additional “frontline” employees, experts to recommend policy overhauls and training programs.
“Neglected and abused children have been badly served in Illinois, and Governor Pritzker believes it’s our duty as a state to invest in the long-term transformation of DCFS to better serve our most vulnerable children,” spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh said.
A spokesperson for DCFS issued the following statement:
“The death of any child in Illinois is a tragedy and this department is deeply committed to protecting vulnerable children in this state. Over the past several years, that mission became increasingly challenging as funding cuts and staff reductions left the agency under resourced and without the staff needed to give vulnerable children the care they deserve. At the same time, cases increased with an increase of more than 5000 investigations in FY19 and the number of youth brought in to care and families supported by Intact Family Services increasing as well.
On July 1, with leadership from the Governor and the General Assembly, a new budget went into effect that reversed course. The FY20 budget allowed DCFS to hire 300 additional staff and more than 2,800 existing staff across the state have now received new training on child safety. The entire leadership of DCFS, including child protection and operations, have been completely restructured and in response to the Chapin Hall report intact family services has been restructured as well. Overhauling the department and reversing long-standing problems in the child welfare system won’t happen overnight, but we are making dramatic improvements and we are deeply committed to getting this right.”
(warning, original site is filled with ads that will slow down or crash your computer)
Women have come a long way in this world; well, in America, especially. Although ladies can pretty much hop in their car, get a job, have a drink, and do whatever else they please, this was not always the case. Although you might be familiar with the fact that women had to fight for their rights, you probably don’t realize how many basic things females were denied. (White) Men, on the other hand, were not rejected from these same primary benefits. Luckily, times have changed, but some even in the 21st century, ladies still struggle for equal pay — something that has been a fight for decades..
A woman shopping with magnetic stripe technology in the 1970s. IBM
40. Credit Cards Were Not For Women
Financially, there were many things that women couldn’t do without their husbands and taking out a credit card under their name was one of them. Legally, banks could deny women credit cards until 1974 with the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The applications from women who tried to take a credit card out under their name received the stamp of “denied” or told them to get their husband’s’ signature on the form. If the woman wasn’t married, the bank would still request she bring a male, such as her father or brother, who could co-sign the application.
Gloria Allred with client Norma McCorvey who was Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade) in 1973. Lorie Shaull / Wikimedia Commons.
39. Women Couldn’t Legally Get An Abortion For Any Reason
Legal abortion isn’t only a hot topic today, but it’s been a hot topic for decades. In fact, women’s weren’t able to legally have an abortion for any reason until 1970 when a college student from Texas known as “Jane Roe” decided to challenge the law. She claimed that she had to right to abortion in her own state. Roe went up against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade in Texas’ Federal Court. While the case started in 1970, it didn’t end until 1973 in Roe’s favor with the Roe Vs. Wade case stating states which ban abortions are unconstitutional.
Women’s Rights Protest. Mic.com
38. They Couldn’t Celebrate International Women’s Day
By the time the 1970s rolled around, women all over the world were tired of being treated as second class citizens. They started to demand equal treatment across the globe and in every aspect of their lives. This call included being able to celebrate themselves. While International Women’s Day history started in the early 1900s, no one acknowledged the date in the United States. It all changed in the mid-1970s and the further improved in 1980 when then President Carter stated that the States would celebrate International Women’s week, including International Women’s Day, which is March 8th.
A woman answering the phone at work. FPG / Getty Images / Vox.
37. Women Could Get Fired For Becoming Pregnant
Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, women could quickly lose their jobs because of a pregnancy. The passing of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act stated that women could not get fired because they became pregnant as this was an act of discrimination against women. Of course, this didn’t mean that women would receive payment for the time they missed due to their pregnancy. It also didn’t say that they couldn’t be fired for “other reasons” once they became pregnant. The act just meant that the reason for firing a woman could not be because of her pregnancy.
Kathrine Switzer attacked while running in the Boston Marathon in 1967. Getty Images / Jezebel.
36. They Wouldn’t Be Acknowledged For Running In The Boston Marathon
The first woman to try to run in the Boston Marathon was Kathrine Switzer, a student at Syracuse University, in 1967. At the time, the Boston Marathon didn’t acknowledge women, and while Switzer registered, ran, and made history, she was attacked, spit on, and taunted. In fact, it wouldn’t be until five years later, in 1972, when women didn’t receive an acknowledgment as runners in the Boston Marathon. Nina Kuscsik from Huntington, New York, was one of the first women to be acknowledged, coming in first for women at 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 26 seconds in 1972.
A woman demanding equal pay. NY Times / Bentley.edu.
35. Organizations Started Focusing On Enforcing Work Equality For Women
Even though the 1964 Civil Rights Act stated employment places could not discriminate based on gender or race, females continued to face work discrimination and inequality well into the 1970s. It seemed that no matter what act Congress passed, women continued to face discrimination. Therefore, the National Organization of Women started to focus their attention on the issues that women faced in the workplace. This organization worked to make sure employment agencies enforced the new acts. Unfortunately, discrimination is still a struggle in the workplace as women are still underpaid and often harassed.
Andrea Hollen graduating from West Point. Department of the Army / army.mil.
34. Women Couldn’t Receive Admittance Into A Military Academy
While women have always had a part in wars, starting with the Revolutionary War, they didn’t have the choice of combat roles. On top of this, girls were not allowed to attend a military academy simply because men believed that women would not be able to make through the academy. This idea changed when West Point admitted its first female students in 1976. Four years later, Andrea Hollen and 61 other females became the first women to graduate from a military academy on May 28, 1980. However, women couldn’t fight in combat until 2013, per a 1994 ban.
Pilots with flight attendants in the 1970s. Flashbak.
33. Women Couldn’t Protect Themselves From Workplace Sexual Harassment
During the 1970s, courts began ruling that people who sexually harassed women in the workplace violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act and women should be able to protect themselves from sexual advances. This ruling occurred in 1977 when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated women could not get fired if they refused sexual advantages from their boss. In 1980 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission came up with a definition for sexual harassment and stated it created a hostile work environment. Six years later, the United States Supreme Court would agree with their ruling.
Pregnant Workers Demonstration. Fordham news.
32. They Didn’t Receive Any Paid Maternity Leave
The first time anything about paid maternity leave became a news topic was in 1969 when five states agreed that women should be able to take time around the time they gave birth. On top of this, the state courts ruled that the women should be able to receive some sort of compensation while they were out on maternity leave. Therefore, the Temporary Disability Insurance Act was born. However, this act didn’t fix everything required for paid maternity leave. Currently, there are still hundreds of workplaces which do not pay maternity leave.
January Jones as Betty Francis in Mad Men. socialjusticesolutions.org.
31. Women Couldn’t Receive Direct Consultation About Physical and Mental Health
If you’re a “Mad Men” fan, you might remember a scene when Betty’s second husband, Henry Frances, discussed Betty’s cancer diagnosis with the doctor. At the time, Betty was sitting off to the side listening to their conversation. If you’ve ever wondered why it is because women didn’t receive direct consultation about their health from doctors. A wife had to have her husband speak on her behalf for many reasons; one being women couldn’t understand what the doctors were saying.
Women’s Rights Against Violence rally. Circulating Now.
30. She Couldn’t Refuse Sex From Her Husband
Wives finally started to receive some legal protection in the 1970s from their husbands. State courts began to realize that there was something called marital rape. However, very few states would do anything about any type of spousal rape accusations from a woman until the early 1990s with the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. With this act, women became legally protected from any act of violence from their husband, including physical assault and rape. Before the action, many police departments around the United States believed any abuse from a husband towards his wife was a private family matter.
A photo of Sonny and Cher in 1971. CBS Television / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
29. Divorce Became Quicker And Easier
Many people question the reason that the divorce rate is so much higher today than it was 50 years ago. One of the biggest reasons for this is because women have the right to get divorced without having needing proof. Generally, the evidence pointed to their husband cheating. However, lawmakers started to notice that some women had trouble proving who was at fault. Therefore, they came up with a solution, legalizing the No-Fault Divorce Act in 1969. This act allowed women to obtain a divorce easier as they no longer had to prove their partner’s fault when requesting a divorce.
Esther Morris. WSA Sub Neg 2666 / WYO State Archives.
28. They Couldn’t Serve As A Judge
While some states had selected female judges before the 1970s, women weren’t typically able to sit in the at a regular rate in the United States until the 1970s when the majority of states allowed women to serve as judges. In fact, women as judges is a slowly growing trend historically. From the first female Justice of Peace, Esther Morris, in Wyoming during the 1870s until today, the profession for females is still growing. Fortunately, the rate of female judges is starting to build a bit quicker than in the past.
Sally Ride on Challenger’s mid-deck during STS-7 in 1983. NASA / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
27. Women Couldn’t Be Astronauts
While NASA didn’t have an actual ban on women becoming astronauts before the 1970s, their guidelines took women out of the process. They just didn’t allow women to interview for the possibility of becoming an astronaut. Part of this was because NASA only accepted military applications and the military didn’t take women. However, this all changed in 1979 when NASA first started hiring women so they could train them as an astronaut. Then, in 1983, Sally Ride became the first female astronaut to go up into space.
Harvard University. Jannis Tobias Werner / Shutterstock / Business Insider.
26. They Wouldn’t Be Admitted Into An Ivy League University
For decades, educating males became more important than females. Because of this, it became harder for women to receive admittance into colleges. Furthermore, it became even harder for women to apply to an ivy league college such as Harvard or Yale. These type of colleges didn’t regularly accept women until close to the 1970s. Yale became the first ivy league college to admit women in 1969. After that, many other ivy league college started to accept women but at a pretty slow rate. For example, Columbia University didn’t allow women until 1983.
Christine Beshar was one of the first females to become a partner of a NY law firm in 1971. wealth365.
25. Ladies Couldn’t Easily Practice Law
For nearly about a century, women had to fight for their right to practice law. While there were previous female judges and lawyers, it was scarce to see a woman in the legal field until the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. In fact, Cornell University ran a study which confirmed that 90% of law firms refused to interview women who applied for placement in their firms. On top of this, most law schools wouldn’t admit women into their programs.
The morning after pill. Bustle.
24. Women Couldn’t Receive The Morning After Pill
Another thing that women struggled receiving before the 1970s was the morning after pill. The morning after pill would not become FDA approved until the late 1990s, even though it became more available for females during the 1970s. Moreover, when the contraceptive became available, women still had almost secretly to find a way to take the morning after pill. Even so, women today still reportedly feel embarrassed or ashamed when they have to take the morning after pill. Many professionals think that the reason behind this is because of the slow acceptance of contraception regarding women.
Birth control pills. Unsplash / Philly Voice.
23. They Struggled To Get A Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill went a little faster than the morning after pill. The FDA approved the medicine during the 1960s; however, individual states could create their own laws when it came to the birth control pill. Many states didn’t allow doctors to give their patients the birth control pill for various reasons. One woman from Connecticut, Estelle Griswold, started to sell the contraception, getting herself arrested. Her case went to the Supreme Court, which upheld that married women could receive the birth control pill in 1965. During the 1970s, more states started to allow doctors to prescribe the medication.
Richard and Mildred Loving had three children together. History.
22. Interracial Marriage Was Illegal In Most States
One of the most famous cases of interracial marriage is the Loving Vs. Virginia case. This hearing made it to the United States Supreme Court, which declared states that didn’t allow couples to marry on the base of color was unconstitutional and violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Mildred Loving and her husband, Richard, brought forth the case after their arrest and prison sentence for marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court forced states to allow interracial marriage in 1967, which helped increase interracial marriage during the 1970s.
A group of women trying to register for jury duty in Portland, Oregon in 1912. Gardiner P. Bissel, Oregon Journal / Wikimedia Commons.
21. Women Couldn’t Serve On A Jury
There are many gray areas throughout history, and this is one of these areas. Prior to the 1970s, females serving on a jury was rare but not impossible. It did happen but it hardly ever occurred before the 1970s, especially once the 20th Century rolled around. This notion is because allowing women to serve in a jury became a law for individual states to decide. Many states didn’t allow women to sit on a jury until 1973 when all 50 states made it a requirement that females were allowed to participate.
Supreme Court Justice-nominee Sandra Day O’Connor talks with President Ronald Reagan outside the White House, July 15, 1981.
White House Photographic Office
Then Supreme Court Justice-nominee Sandra Day O’Connor talking with then President Ronald Reagan in 1981. White House Photographic Office / Wikimedia Commons.
20. Likewise, They Couldn’t Serve On The Supreme Court
The 1970s became a groundbreaking decade for women in the legal field. During the 1970s, more law school started accepting women; they could serve of juries and become lawyers. The legal industry began to bloom with women interested in a legal career. However, it wasn’t until right after the 1970s, in 1981, when Sandra Day O’Connor received a seat for the Supreme Court. She held this position until 2006 when she retired. Other than O’Connor, three other women have served on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan.
John Travolta and actress Diana Hyland briefly dated in the 1970s. Julian Wassar / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images
19. Girlfriends Couldn’t Legally Live With Their Boyfriends
Today many dating couples don’t think twice about living together with each other before getting married. In fact, common law marriage, when you live with your significant other for so many years, and your state considers you “married,” is becoming more and more popular. However, this wasn’t the case around 50 years ago. During the 1970s, many states had laws against living with your significant other before marriage. It wasn’t until 2013 when all 50 states adopted the law to allow couples to live together without getting married first.
1970s TRAX tennis shoes. Pinterest.
18. Women Couldn’t Purchase Athletic Shoes
The history of women in sports is different from the history of men in sports. While women usually purchase at least one pair of athletic shoes today, this was something women couldn’t buy until the end of the 1970s and into the early 1980s. The biggest reason for this was that women didn’t have a considerable spot in the sports world until around the 1970s. However, just because women didn’t have athletic shoes designed for them didn’t mean they didn’t buy the shoes. Instead of women’s shoes, they had to purchase athletic shoes designed for men.
A clip from the Mary Tyler Moore show. The 1970s Story.
17. Women Didn’t Really Have A Voice
Of course, females have always been able to talk, but this didn’t mean that the things they said had any impact on what people thought. While countless girls fought for women’s suffrage and other rights marches, most males, especially in professional careers, wouldn’t and didn’t have to listen to what girls had to say. This concept not only included their opinions on civil and household matters but also opinions for their own bodies. Typically, until around the 1970s, most women had to listen to their husband in how he wanted things down in his home.
Women at Radcliff Institute at Harvard. library.hbs.edu.
16. They Couldn’t Obtain A Degree In Women’s Studies
It wasn’t until 1956 when the Women Studies program came into existence in Australia. From there, the program slowly grew into other parts of the world. However, the United States’ colleges didn’t start catching on to women studies until the late 1960s. In 1969, Cornell University became the first college to offer women studies classes. A year later, San Diego State University established the first Women’s Studies Program in the United States. 1972 saw the establishment of Feminist Studies, and then 1977 saw the creation of the National Women’s Studies Association, which focuses on women’s history in education.
Woman in the 1970s. Vintag.es.
15. Women Weren’t Able To Get Any Job
Today, it’s hard to think about all the jobs women couldn’t get before the 1970s. Before women started demanding gender equality for jobs, women could only apply for specific positions, such as secretary or teacher. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 worked to end workplace discrimination; however, it continued in several states and among hundreds of professions. Even though employers couldn’t legally reject women for jobs because of their gender, they could reject women for other reasons. Some employers would skip applications by women while others would come up with a different reason for not hiring them.
It was not until the EEOC was actually enforced in 1982 that women were allowed to obtain professional jobs such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, etc. and the courts would begin to enforce anti discrimination laws.
A wedding photo. vintage.es.
14. She Couldn’t Divorce Over Domestic Violence
Before the 1970s, getting divorced was difficult. Females had to prove that their husband had wronged them in order to obtain a divorce. However, proof didn’t mean that women would be able to get a divorce successfully. Some of the reasons, such as adultery, became acceptable. However, other reasons were not seen as acceptable, such as spousal abuse. Wives couldn’t officially protect themselves from domestic violence until the 1990s. However, starting in the 1970s, it became acceptable for a woman to ask for a divorce because of domestic violence.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee running for USA at the Olympics in the 1980s. STAFF / AFP / Getty Images / CBS News.
13. They Couldn’t Be A Part Of All Olympic Games
No matter how far women feel they still have to go for complete equality, no one can deny that they haven’t broken glass barriers throughout history, especially in the past 50 years. One of the obstacles that girls keep breaking is in the Olympic Games. While women started to participate in the Olympics during the early 1900s, their numbers and events began to grow considerably during the 1970s. In 1976, women added ice dancing, basketball, rowing and handball as events in the Olympics. Today, ladies are still adding games to their credits. In 2012, women could finally compete in boxing.
A vintage photo of an early Bank of America. Bank of America.
12. Women Couldn’t Own A Bank
Before the 1970s, career choices for ladies were scarce. However, this slowly started to change before the 1970s but boomed during the 1970s. One of the careers that became more available for women in the 1970s dealt with finances and banks. In 1975 the First Women’s Bank opened in New York City. This place became the first bank owned and operated by a woman for women. Of course, the law didn’t officially accept the bank right away, but it remained opened and is known as a significant milestone during the 1970s women’s rights movement.
A woman using an ATM for the first time. Pinterest.
11. Women Couldn’t Open A Bank Account
One reason women couldn’t legally own a bank before the 1970s is because they couldn’t legally open a bank account. Just like women couldn’t get a credit card without their husband’s signature, they couldn’t open a bank account without their husband’s permission. One of the reasons ladies couldn’t open their own bank account was because people believed they wouldn’t be able to handle the financial part. Men saw females as delicate creatures who couldn’t understand many of the things they could.
The Feminine Mystique. Amazon.
10. Women Couldn’t Discuss Sex Openly
It’s hard to think of this one today, but before the 1970s, women could not discuss their sex lives or anything having to do with sex openly. Of course, many females probably addressed the topic of sex privately to their friends, but it wasn’t acceptable to discuss in public. While it wasn’t illegal, many women often followed the rules of what people considered socially acceptable and what people didn’t. The woman and book that really changed the way women discussed sex is Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.
A mother with her baby in the 1970s. Flashbak.
9. Women Couldn’t Breastfeed In Public
Realistically, breastfeeding in public is a controversial topic today. However, before the 1970s, this topic was not even a controversy because it simply wasn’t allowed. Mothers were not allowed to breastfeed their children in public. In fact, many places discriminated against mothers who breastfed as they worried it would happen in their business. The discrimination against breastfeeding mothers legally ended when Congress passed a law saying that a public place could not discriminate against women who breastfed as they saw it as a violation of their equality rights.
Females at school during the 70s. Reddit.
8. Females Couldn’t Receive An Equal Education
Women dealt with discrimination in education regularly. Not only weren’t they allowed to obtain a law degree or go to ivy league colleges before the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, but they faced discrimination in the educational setting in many other ways. By many men, women just couldn’t handle higher education. Some people actually felt that girls weren’t smart enough to obtain a certain level of education. For decades, some people felt women belonged in the kitchen more than they belonged in school. This idea created much discrimination and unequal treatment in the educational system.
Women walking in Hermosa Beach in the 1970s. Reddit.
7. They Couldn’t Adopt A Baby As A Single Woman
Women couldn’t do tons of things before the 1970s, and one of these things was they couldn’t adopt a baby if they didn’t have a male partner. Even though the majority of women before the 1970s stayed home and raised the children while their husband went to work, the lawmakers believed that they shouldn’t be able to adopt a baby without having a husband. Even if the single woman lived wealthy, remained healthy, and could give the child a great home, no one would allow her to because she was wasn’t married.
Katharine Graham, pictured in 1975, was the publisher of The Washington Post. Wikimedia Commons.
6. She Couldn’t Be The CEO OF A Fortune 500 Company
With all the rules, laws, and regulations surrounding women before the 1970s, it’s probably no shock that it took until the early 1970s for a woman to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. Katharine Graham became the first female CEO in American history of a Fortune 500 Company when she took over The Washington Post in 1972. While what she did had never been illegal, this doesn’t take away the fact that Graham broke barriers for many other ladies.
Angela Davis in 1969. Bettmann / CORBIS.
5. They Couldn’t Have Their Own Mind
Of course, women actually had their own mind before the 1970s, but this didn’t mean that their intention was considered valuable. While women acquired certain tasks, they were tasks that men felt women were capable of doing, such as taking care of the children, cleaning the house, and cooking a meal. An example of this is the fact that wives needed their husbands’ permission to do many things, including getting a job. There are also examples of requiring a husband’s signature to obtain a credit card.
Nurses from the 1970s. Godmanchester County Primary School.
4. They Cared More About Education Than Marriage
Starting in the late 1960s and into early 1970s, women began to focus more on their higher education than getting married and starting a family right out of high school. This idea became a drastic change from a few years before when women often got married young because there wasn’t much for them in higher education. However, with ivy league colleges allowing women and more female professionals, higher education started to become more important than getting married after high school.
Ruth Bager Ginsburg in 1972. Jitter Bugged.
3. They Were Scarce in DC
While a few females found their spot in the political field, locally or nationally, before the 1970s politics and women were not a hot topic until the 1970s. In fact, the late 1960s and into the early 1970s saw an increase in women in the political field. In fact, in 1970, about a dozen women had their seat in Congress. On top of this, women had found their political position in their own neighborhoods and continued to write their names on ballots.
Women protesting the Miss America pageant in 1968. folkways.si.edu.
2. They Did Rally Against The Miss America Pageant
In 1968, many women from around the United States got together to protest the Miss America pageant. During this time, they complained because they wanted to be treated as people and not objects. They stated that the Miss America pageant promoted sexism. This opposition is the same mentality that females carried into the 1970s. Instead of feeling like a sexual object or a piece of property, women fought to be able to feel like they mattered and were human beings just like men.
Women’s Strike for Peace And Equality in 1970. Eugene Gordon / The New York Historical Society / Getty Images.
1. Women Fought For The Right To Protest
Before the late 1960s and into the early 1970s women rarely held marches and protests and if they did, these moments saw hostility from males and other females. It all started to change during the 1970s when men joined in on the women’s protests for their rights and equality matters. On top of this, ladies began protesting beyond the majority of discriminatory practices they faced in the United States. They protested for a variety of reasons throughout the United States. Something that wasn’t often seen in the United States previously.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:
“Landmark Cases: Roe Vs. Wade (1973).” Alex McBride. Thirteen.org.
“6 Things You Won’t Believe Women Couldn’t Do In 1970.” Suzannah Weiss, Bustle. December 2015.
“Women Officially Acknowledged in BAA Race.” Boston.com.
“10 Things That American Women Could Not Do Before the 1970s.” Natasha Turner, Ms. Magazine. May 2013.
“Things That American Women Couldn’t Do Until the 1970s.” Lisa Waugh, Ranker.
“First female West Point graduate reflects on historic anniversary.” Rachid Haoues, CBS Evening News. May 2015.
“Who’s to Blame for America’s Sexual Harassment Nightmare?” Mark Joseph Stern, Slate. October 2017.
“7 Shocking Things Women Weren’t Allowed to Do Until Pretty Recently.” Beth Dreher, Woman’s Day. August 2016.
“Crazy things women couldn’t do 50 years ago.” Adria Valdes Greenhauff, The List.
“Interracial Relationships that Changed History.” PBS.
“Things You Wouldn’t Believe Women Couldn’t Do Before The 1970s.” Brittany Greco, Rebel Circus. January 2016.
“Women’s Studies” Wikipedia.
“Participation of women in the Olympics.” Wikipedia.
In one of the first decisions of its kind, the 4th circuit has held that when a public official owns a FB page to conduct business, contact constiutents, and perform duties, it cannot block critics from posting on that page.
Phyllis Randall, Chair of the Loudoun County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors (the
“Loudoun Board”), brings this appeal, arguing that the district court erred in concluding
that she violated the First Amendment rights of one of her constituents, Brian Davison,
when she banned Davison from the “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” Facebook page she
administered. In a cross appeal, Davison principally argues that the district court erred
in dismissing his procedural due process claim premised on the ban. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
On her campaign page, Randall characterized the Chair’s Facebook Page as her
“county Facebook page” stating:
I really want to hear from ANY Loudoun citizen on ANY issues, request,
criticism, complement or just your thoughts. However, I really try to keep
back and forth conversations (as opposed to one time information items
such as road closures) on my county Facebook page (Chair Phyllis J.
Randall) or County email (Phyllis.email@example.com). Having back and
forth constituent conversations are Foiable ([Freedom of Information Act])
so if you could reach out to me on these mediums that would be
J.A. 455 (emphasis added).
To state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must show that the alleged
constitutional deprivation at issue occurred because of action taken by the defendant
“under color of . . . state law.” Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem’l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th
Cir. 2009). “The traditional definition of acting under color of state law requires that the
defendant in a § 1983 action have exercised power ‘possessed by virtue of state law and
made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law.’”
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988) (quoting United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299,
326 (1941)). Section 1983’s “color-of-law prerequisite is synonymous with the more
familiar state-action requirement” applicable to Fourteenth Amendment claims, “and the
analysis for each is identical.” Pitt Cty. Mem’l Hosp., 572 F.3d at 180. Both inquiries
demand that “the conduct allegedly causing the deprivation of a federal right be fairly
attributable to the State.” Holly v. Scott, 434 F.3d 287, 292 (4th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., Inc., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982)).
“[T]here is no specific formula for determining whether state action is present.”
Id. at 292 (internal quotation marks omitted). Rather, “[w]hat is fairly attributable [to the
state]”—i.e., what constitutes action under color of state law—“is a matter of normative
judgment, and the criteria lack rigid simplicity.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
Courts must examine the “totality of the circumstances,” id. (internal quotation marks
omitted), to determine if the action at issue “bore a ‘sufficiently close nexus’ with the
State to be ‘fairly treated as that of the State itself,’” Rossignol, 316 F.3d at 525 (quoting
Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 351 (1974)).
Although no one factor is determinative, this Court has held that a defendant’s
purportedly private actions bear a “sufficiently close nexus” with the State to satisfy
Section 1983’s color-of-law requirement when the defendant’s challenged “actions are
linked to events which arose out of his official status.” Id. at 524. When a defendant’s
“status” as a public official “enabled [her] to execute [a challenged action] in a manner
that private citizens never could have,” then the action also is more likely to be treated as
attributable to the state. Id. at 526; see also Martinez v. Colon, 54 F.3d 980, 986 (1st Cir.
1995) (“[S]ection 1983 is . . . implicated . . . [when] the conduct is such that the actor
could not have behaved in that way but for the authority of his office.”); Goldstein v.
Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Co., 218 F.3d 337, 343 (4th Cir. 2000) (holding that
challenged conduct is more likely to amount to state action when “the injury caused is
aggravated in a unique way by the incidents of governmental authority” (internal
quotation marks omitted)). Likewise, an official’s conduct is more likely to amount to
state action when it “occurs in the course of performing an actual or apparent duty of his
office.” Martinez, 54 F.3d at 986. And the challenged action of a defendant
governmental official is likely to be treated as taken under color of law when the official
“use[d] the power and prestige of his state office to damage the plaintiff.” Harris v.
Harvey, 605 F.2d 330, 337 (7th Cir. 1979). In the context of an alleged First Amendment violation, in particular, this Court has found that a challenged action by a governmental official is fairly attributable to the state when “the sole intention” of the official in taking the action was “to suppress speech critical of his conduct of official duties or fitness for public office.” Rossignol, 316 F.3d at 524.
Randall clothed the Chair’s Facebook Page in “the power and prestige of h[er] state
office,” Harris, 605 F.2d at 337, and created and administered the page to “perform
actual or apparent dut[ies] of h[er] office,” Martinez, 54 F.3d at 986.
Under long-established First Amendment law, governmental entities are “strictly
limited” in their ability to regulate private speech in public fora. Pleasant Grove City,
Utah v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460, 469 (2009). The Supreme Court has recognized two
categories of public fora: “traditional public forums” and “limited (or designated) public
forums.” Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Mote, 423 F.3d 438, 443 (4th Cir. 2005).
“Traditional” public forums—“such as streets, sidewalks, and parks”—“have the
characteristics of a public thoroughfare, a purpose that is compatible with expressive
conduct, as well as a tradition and history of being used for expressive public conduct.”
Id. “Limited” or “designated” forums are forums that are “not traditionally public, but
[that] the government has purposefully opened to the public, or some segment of the
public, for expressive activity.” Id. Accordingly, the hallmark of both types of public
fora—what renders the fora “public”—is that the government has made the space
available—either by designation or long-standing custom—for “expressive public
conduct” or “expressive activity,” and the space is compatible with such activity. Id.
“Conversely, a non-public forum is one that has not traditionally been open to the public,
where opening it to expressive conduct would ‘somehow interfere with the objective use
and purpose to which the property has been dedicated.’” Id. (quoting Warren v. Fairfax
Cty., 196 F.3d 186, 190–91 (4th Cir. 1999)).
The Chair’s Facebook Page also is “compatib[le] with expressive activity.”
Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 802. “Congress [has] recognized the internet and interactive
computer services as offering ‘a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique
opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.’”
Zeran v. Am. Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327, 330 (4th Cir. 1997) (quoting 47 U.S.C. §
230(a)(3)); cf. Bland, 730 F.3d at 386 (finding post to campaign Facebook page
“constituted pure speech”). And the Supreme Court recently analogized social media
sites, like the Chair’s Facebook Page, to “traditional” public forums, characterizing the
internet as “the most important place (in a spatial sense) for the exchange of views.”
Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1735 (2017). An “exchange of views”
is precisely what Randall sought—and what in fact transpired—when she expressly
invited “ANY Loudoun citizen” to visit the page and comment “on ANY issues,” and
received numerous such posts and comments. J.A. 455.
Even assuming the intangible space at issue is “private property,” as Randall
claims—which is not at all clear from the record before us4
—the Supreme Court never
has circumscribed forum analysis solely to government-owned property. For example, in
Cornelius, the Court recognized that forum analysis applies “to private property
dedicated to public use.” Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 801 (emphasis added); see also
Christian Legal Soc’y Chapter of the Univ. of Cal. v. Martinez, 561 U.S. 661, 679 (2010)
(“[T]his Court has employed forum analysis to determine when a governmental entity, in
regulating property in its charge, may place limitations on speech.” (emphasis added)).
Se. Promotions, Ltd. v. Conrad, 420 U.S. 546, 547, 555 (1975) (holding that “a privately
owned Chattanooga theater under long-term lease to the city” was a “public forum
designed for and dedicated to expressive activities”); Halleck v. Manhattan Community
Access Corp., 882 F.3d 300, 306–07 (2d Cir. 2018) (holding that public access television
channels operated by a private non-profit corporation constituted public forums), cert.
granted 139 S. Ct. 360 (2018) (mem.); First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City v. Salt
Lake City Corp., 308 F.3d 1114, 1122 (10th Cir. 2002) (“[F]orum analysis does not
require that the government have a possessory interest in or title to the underlying land.
Either government ownership or regulation is sufficient for a First Amendment forum of
some kind to exist.”); Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. City of Marshfield,
Wis., 203 F.3d 487, 494 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding that private property abutted by public
park constituted public forum).
Whereas “[p]ersonal-capacity suits seek to impose
personal liability upon a government official for actions [she] takes under color of state
law,” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985), “official capacity suits are ‘treated
as suits against the municipality,’” Santos v. Frederick Cty. Bd. of Comm’rs, 725 F.3d
451, 469 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991)). Because “municipal liability under Section 1983 does not amount to respondeat superior . . . a municipality is subject to Section 1983 liability only when its ‘policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the [plaintiff’s] injury.’” Id. at 469–70 (quoting Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of the City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)).
Davison is correct that “municipal liability may be imposed for a single decision
by municipal policymakers under appropriate circumstances.” Hunter v. Town of
Mocksville, N.C., 897 F.3d 538, 554 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Pembaur v. City of
Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 480 (1986)). “[I]n assessing whether a municipality may be
held liable for constitutional or statutory violations of their decisionmakers, the
touchstone inquiry is whether ‘the decisionmaker possesses final authority to establish
municipal policy with respect to the action ordered.’” Id. at 554–55 (emphasis added)
(quoting Liverman v. City of Petersburg, 844 F.3d 400, 413 (4th Cir. 2016)).
the district court found that Randall
made a one-off, “unilateral decision to ban [Davison] in the heat of the moment, and
reconsidered soon thereafter,” Davison, 267 F. Supp. 3d at 715—before the Loudoun
Board had a chance to learn of her action. In such circumstances, the district court did
not reversibly err in rejecting Davison’s official capacity claim.
No court appears to have addressed that novel legal theory. And although the First
Amendment constrains only government policies, not policies established by private
entities, one can conceive of a colorable legal argument that a governmental actor’s
decision to select a private social media website for use as a public forum—and therefore
select that website’s suite of rules and regulations—could violate the First Amendment, if
the private website included certain types of exclusionary rules. For example, if the
government chose as its electronic public forum a social media site that allowed only
registered members of one political party to post and comment, there would seem to be a
compelling argument that the government’s selection of that social media site violated the
First Amendment rights of members of other political parties, even if the partisan
restriction was imposed by the private company, not the governmental body. Such a
restriction would be seem to be no different than a municipality choosing to hold a town
hall meeting in a venue that refused admission to individuals associated with a disfavored
political party or viewpoint. Cf. DeBoer v. Village of Oak Park, 267 F.3d 558, 571 (7th
Cir. 2001) (“[T]he government engages in viewpoint discrimination when it denies access
to a speaker solely to suppress the point of view he espouses on an otherwise includible
the Supreme Court should consider further the reach of the First
Amendment in the context of social media. I acknowledge that the Supreme Court has
referred to social media as “the modern public square,” Packingham v. North Carolina,
137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737 (2017), implying that First Amendment principles protecting
speech from government intrusion do extend to social media. However, the interplay
between private companies hosting social media sites and government actors managing
those sites necessarily blurs the line regarding which party is responsible for burdens
placed on a participant’s speech.
For example, hate speech is protected under the First Amendment. See Matal, 137
S. Ct. at 1763-64 (holding that the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act violated the
First Amendment free speech clause because it prohibited hate speech). But social media
companies like Facebook and others have policies forbidding hate speech on their
Thus, while a government official, who under color of law has opened a
public forum on a social media platform like Facebook, could not ban a user’s comment
containing hate speech, that official could report the hate speech to Facebook. And
Facebook personnel could ban the user’s comment, arguably circumventing First
In past years, kids would sit on a bench with a scowling secretary waiting to see the principal, now we have a jail like setting so I guess poor kids can get used to the mass incarceration problem in Illinois.
Unfreaking believable article. what amazes me is the fact a lot of these kids are autistic or special needs and there is no evaluation before using this “disciplinary technique” if it would harm a special needs child. Of course, it just looks like crapola for any child, but that’s a whole other issue.
The spaces have gentle names: The reflection room. The cool-down room. The calming room. The quiet room.
But shut inside them, in public schools across the state, children as young as 5 wail for their parents, scream in anger and beg to be let out.
The students, most of them with disabilities, scratch the windows or tear at the padded walls. They throw their bodies against locked doors. They wet their pants. Some children spend hours inside these rooms, missing class time. Through it all, adults stay outside the door, writing down what happens.
In Illinois, it’s legal for school employees to seclude students in a separate space — to put them in “isolated timeout” — if the students pose a safety threat to themselves or others. Yet every school day, workers isolate children for reasons that violate the law, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois has found.
Children were sent to isolation after refusing to do classwork, for swearing, for spilling milk, for throwing Legos. School employees use isolated timeout for convenience, out of frustration or as punishment, sometimes referring to it as “serving time.”
For this investigation, ProPublica Illinois and the Tribune obtained and analyzed thousands of detailed records that state law requires schools to create whenever they use seclusion. The resulting database documents more than 20,000 incidents from the 2017-18 school year and through early December 2018.
Of those, about 12,000 included enough detail to determine what prompted the timeout. In more than a third of these incidents, school workers documented no safety reason for the seclusion.
State education officials are unaware of these repeated violations because they do not monitor schools’ use of the practice. Parents, meanwhile, often are told little about what happens to their children.
The Tribune/ProPublica Illinois investigation, which also included more than 120 interviews with parents, children and school officials, provides the first in-depth examination of this practice in Illinois.
Because school employees observing the students often keep a moment-by-moment log, the records examined by reporters offer a rare view of what happens to children inside these rooms — often in their own words.
11:58 A.M., JAN. 11, 2018
FRESH START TREATMENT AND LEARNING CENTER, EFFINGHAM
“Please someone respond to me. … I’m sorry I ripped the paper. I overreacted. Please just let me out. Is anyone out there?”
Without doubt, many of the children being secluded are challenging. Records show school employees struggling to deal with disruptive, even violent behavior, such as hitting, kicking and biting. Workers say that they have to use seclusion to keep everyone in the classroom safe and that the practice can help children learn how to calm themselves.
But disability advocates, special-education experts and administrators in school systems that have banned seclusion argue that the practice has no therapeutic or educational value, that it can traumatize children — and that there are better alternatives.
No federal law regulates the use of seclusion, and Congress has debated off and on for years whether that should change. Last fall, a bill was introduced that would prohibit seclusion in public schools that receive federal funding. A U.S. House committee held a hearing on the issue in January, but there’s been no movement since.
Nineteen states prohibit secluding children in locked rooms; four of them ban any type of seclusion. But Illinois continues to rely on the practice. The last time the U.S. Department of Education calculated state-level seclusion totals, in 2013-14, Illinois ranked No. 1.
2:09 P.M., DEC. 11, 2017
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, MATTOON
“Please, please, please open the door. Please, I’ll be good. Open the door and I’ll be quiet.”
Although state law requires schools to file a detailed report each time they use seclusion, no one is required to read these accounts.
Several school district officials said they had not reviewed seclusion reports from their schools until reporters requested them. The Illinois State Board of Education does not collect any data on schools’ use of isolated timeout and has not updated guidelines since issuing them 20 years ago.
“Having a law that allows schools to do something that is so traumatic and dangerous to students without having some sort of meaningful oversight and monitoring is really, really troubling,” said Zena Naiditch, founder and leader of Equip for Equality, a disabilities watchdog group that helped write Illinois’ rules in 1999.
Informed of the investigation’s findings, the Illinois State Board of Education said it would issue guidance clarifying that seclusion should be used only in emergencies. Officials acknowledged they don’t monitor the use of isolated timeout and said they would need legislative action to do so.
DEC. 17, 2018
CENTRAL SCHOOL, SPRINGFIELD
“I’d rather die. You’re torturing me.”
This investigation, based on records from more than 100 districts, found seclusion was used in schools across every part of the state and by a range of employees, from teachers and aides to social workers and security personnel.
Some districts declined to provide records or gave incomplete information. Others wouldn’t answer even basic questions, saying the law did not require them to. Of more than 20 districts reporters asked to visit, only three said yes.
“Is this something that we’re ashamed of? It’s not our finest,” said Christan Schrader, director of the Black Hawk Area Special Education District in East Moline, which documented about 850 seclusions in the time period examined.
Schrader said she thinks her staff generally uses seclusion appropriately but acknowledged room for improvement. She met with reporters at the district’s administration building but wouldn’t let them see the seclusion rooms in the school across the parking lot.
“Nobody wants to talk about those things because it doesn’t reflect well,” she said.
‘I’M CRYING ALONE’
About 20 minutes after he was put in one of his school’s Quiet Rooms — a 5-foot-square space made of plywood and cinder block — 9-year-old Jace Gill wet his pants.
An aide, watching from the doorway, wrote that down in a log, noting it was 10:53 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2018.
School aides had already taken away Jace’s shoes and both of his shirts. Jace then stripped off his wet pants, wiped them in the urine on the floor and sat down in the corner.
“I’m naked!” Jace yelled at 10:56 a.m.
Staff did not respond, the log shows, except to close the door “for privacy.”
By 11 a.m., Jace had also defecated and was smearing feces on the wall. No adults intervened, according to the log. They watched and took notes.
“Dancing in feces. Doing the twist,” staff wrote at 11:14 a.m., noting that the boy then started pacing back and forth.
“I need more clothes,” he called out.
“We know,” an aide answered.
Jace banged on the walls and tried to pry open the door. He sat against the wall, crying for his mom.
11:42 a.m.: “Let me out of here. I’m crying alone.”
The incident began that morning when Jace ripped up a math worksheet and went into the hallway, trying to leave school.
Jace was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 and began having epileptic seizures at 5. In first grade, officials at his local school referred him to the Kansas Treatment and Learning Center, a public school in east-central Illinois for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
Jace’s mother, Kylee Beaven, had heard about the Quiet Rooms at Kansas and had strong reservations about the concept, even before she took a school tour and stepped inside one. She recalls being told he would never be shut inside alone.
“I remember standing there and thinking, like, if I was a kid, how would I feel if I was in this room by myself?” she said.
In the years Jace spent at the Kansas TLC, he was placed in the Quiet Rooms again and again — at least 28 times in the 2017-18 school year.
Once, he was shut in after he pushed a book off his desk, said “I hate reading,” raised his fist and tried to leave the classroom. Another day, he refused to get out of his grandmother’s car at school drop-off, so a staff member took him straight to a Quiet Room.
After he went into a Quiet Room on Feb. 1, a staff member took notes every one or two minutes. The handwritten incident report stretches nine pages on lined paper.
Jace spent more than 80 minutes in the room before someone stepped inside to hand him a change of clothes, wipes to clean his feet and some lunch. A mental-health crisis worker arrived to talk to him, but he wouldn’t answer her questions.
He was not released until his grandmother — his “Gammy” — came to pick him up at 2:07 p.m.
Jace’s mother remembers this incident, in part because she was surprised to learn that he had defecated in the room. Hadn’t she been told he wouldn’t be alone? When reporters showed her the lengthy report, she read and reread it for at least 20 minutes, tears falling onto the pages.
“I didn’t know it was like this. I didn’t know they wrote this all down,” Beaven said. “None of it should have happened.”
In the nearly 50,000 pages of reports reporters reviewed about Illinois students in seclusion, school workers often keep watch over children who are clearly in distress. They dutifully document kids urinating and spitting in fear or anger and then being ordered to wipe the walls clean and mop the floors.
Kansas TLC is operated by the Eastern Illinois Area Special Education district, which serves students from eight counties and is based in Charleston. Illinois has about 70 regional special-education districts that teach students who can’t be accommodated in their home districts.
Eastern Illinois officials ultimately released roughly 10,000 pages of records chronicling nearly 1,100 isolated timeouts. Analysis of those records shows more than half of seclusions there were prompted by something other than a safety issue.
When students at any of the three schools have been disrespectful or disruptive, they are required to take a “head down” — to lower their heads and remain silent for a set number of minutes. If they refuse, they often are sent to a Quiet Room — sometimes for hours — until they comply.
Zayvion Johnson, 15, remembers how it felt. He used to go to the Kansas school, too, and spent time in the same rooms as Jace.
“They told us it was there to help us, but it just made everybody mad,” said Zayvion, now a sophomore at Charleston High School who plays running back and middle linebacker on the football team. “The Quiet Room, it irritates people. … You’re isolated from everybody else. You can’t talk to anybody else.”
The Eastern Illinois district’s executive director, Tony Reeley, said he had not grasped how often seclusion was being used in his schools until he read some of the documents requested by reporters.
“Looking at a stack of 8,000 pages at one time really did kind of hit home,” Reeley said when he met with reporters in the spring. He has not responded to recent requests for comment, including about specific incidents.
Reeley and assistant director Jeremy Doughty said they were surprised and concerned about how frequently staff used seclusion rooms after students were disobedient but not physically aggressive.
“When we read it, it reads punitive,” Doughty said.
“We have to do something to address this,” said Reeley.
In October 2018, Jace died at home in rural Paris of a seizure in his sleep. He had not returned to Kansas TLC that fall; his family had decided to home-school him, in part to keep him out of the Quiet Rooms.
In the family’s living room, Jace’s mom shared photos of him at a Wiggles concert, in a Spider-Man costume, sitting on Santa’s lap. A favorite image features the family wearing “Team Jace” T-shirts at an autism walk; Jace’s shirt reads “I’m Jace.”
“He loved his dad and loved me and he loved his Gammy,” his mother said. “He had issues, but they weren’t his fault. He couldn’t control it.”
A BOY IN A PLYWOOD BOX
The plywood box in the middle of Ted Meckley’s special-education classroom was 3 feet wide, 3 feet deep and 7 feet tall. The schools around Pontiac had been using boxes to seclude students for years, and Ted, a nonverbal 16-year-old with developmental disabilities, was routinely shut inside.
In 1989, Ted’s mother, Judith, started speaking out. Newspapers published stories, people got upset, and the boxes were removed.
Judith Meckley joined a state task force to examine the use of seclusion. After a brief ban on the practice, the state Board of Education issued guidance and then, a few years later, rules that carried the weight of state law.
The Illinois rules accepted the need for seclusion, a practice already used in psychiatric hospitals and other institutional settings.
After Congress enacted a 1975 law guaranteeing a free public education to children with disabilities, the colleges and universities that trained teachers sought guidance from behavioral psychologists on how to manage these potentially challenging students.
At the time, some researchers favored using cattle prods and electric shock to discourage unwanted behavior. Another method was to move the misbehaving patient into an environment with fewer stimuli — someplace calmer.
“It gave a psychological justification for seclusion,” said Scot Danforth, a professor at Chapman University in California who studies the education of children with disabilities and believes seclusion is ineffective.
Illinois’ rules, now 20 years old, require that school employees constantly monitor the child and that they be able to see inside the room. Locks on the doors must be active, meaning they have to be continuously held in place. That’s so a child can’t be trapped during a fire or other emergency.
But the rules also cemented the use of seclusion in Illinois’ public schools.
“Essentially the regulations legitimized practices that place students at risk of serious harm and trauma,” said Naiditch, of Equip for Equality.
The Illinois law also lists reasons children can be physically restrained, a practice sometimes used in conjunction with seclusion. But the law is less precise about seclusion than about restraint, leaving room for misinterpretation by school officials.
“It makes it even more dangerous because schools are widely using it as punishment,” Naiditch said after reading some of the incident reports obtained by ProPublica Illinois and the Tribune.
School administrators who use seclusion say they need it to deal with students whose behavior is challenging, disruptive and, at times, dangerous.
“If (students are) committed to hurting someone, that room is a way to keep them safe,” said Alicia Corrigan, director of student services for Community Consolidated School District 15, which operates a therapeutic day program in Rolling Meadows for 40 students with disabilities.
Students there were secluded about 330 times in the time period reporters examined.
But “that’s the smallest part of our day,” Corrigan said. “That is not what we do all day.”
The Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative, near St. Louis, has two timeout rooms. Scratch marks are visible in the blue padding inside and on the windows in the heavy, locking doors.
The Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative, near St. Louis, allowed a photographer to visit two timeout rooms at Pathways school. The padded rooms have fluorescent lights and observation windows, which students have scratched. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)
“Does it actually teach them anything or develop a skill? Absolutely not,” said Jeff Daugherty, who heads the cooperative. He allowed journalists to tour the Pathways school and see timeout rooms. “It’s never pleasant. I do believe it’s a necessary tool for our line of work with our students.”
The U.S. Department of Education warned in 2012 that secluding students can be dangerous and said that there is no evidence it’s effective in reducing problematic behaviors.
A few school districts in Illinois prohibit seclusion, including Chicago Public Schools, which banned it 11 years ago. But these districts often send students with disabilities to schools that do use it, such as those operated by most of Illinois’ special-education districts.
Danforth said seclusion goes unexamined because it largely affects students with disabilities.
To put children in timeout rooms, “you really have to believe that you’re dealing with people who are deeply defective. And that’s what the staff members tell each other. … You can do it because of who you’re doing it to.”
Ted Meckley, whose experiences in Pontiac’s timeout box as a teenager helped change the practice of seclusion, is now 45 and living in a group home. When a reporter told his mother that seclusion still is widely used, she gasped.
“No!” Meckley said. “My goodness. That is the most discouraging thing. I spent six years of my life fighting on this very issue. It’s so discouraging to think that, 25 years later, here we are. No progress.”
In fact, reporters identified several schools that have added more seclusion rooms in the past year or so. North Shore School District 112 converted two coat closets to isolation rooms. The McLean district in Normal opened two rooms in an elementary school.
And at Dirksen Elementary School in Schaumburg, two new 6-by-6 rooms are in use. They’re called “resolution rooms.”
THE REVOLVING DOOR
By 8:35 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2017, all five of the timeout “booths” at Bridges Learning Center near Centralia were already full. School had been in session for five minutes.
Each booth is about 6 by 8 feet, with a steel door. That day, one held a boy who had hung on a basketball rim and swore at staff when they told him to stop. In another, a boy who had used “raised voice tones.”
Two boys were being held because they hadn’t finished classwork. Inside the fifth room was a boy who had tried to “provoke” other students when he got off a bus. Staff told him he’d be back again “to serve 15 minutes every morning due to his irrational behavior.”
None of those reasons for seclusion is permitted under Illinois law.
Yet, over the course of that one day, the rooms stayed busy, with two turning over like tables in a restaurant, emptying and refilling four times. The other three were occupied for longer periods, as long as five hours for the boy who hung off the basketball rim. In all, Bridges staff isolated students 20 times.
Seclusion is supposed to be rare, a last resort. But at Bridges, part of the Kaskaskia Special Education District in southern Illinois, and at many other schools, it is often the default response.
Bridges used seclusion 1,288 times in the 15 months of school that reporters examined. The school has about 65 students.
According to the Tribune/ProPublica Illinois analysis of Bridges records, 72% of the seclusions were not prompted by a safety issue, as the law requires.
“There were kids there every day,” said Brandon Skibinski, who worked as a paraprofessional at Bridges for part of the 2018-19 school year. “I didn’t think that was the best practice. I don’t know what the best practices are, though.”
Cassie Clark, who heads the Kaskaskia Special Education District, did not respond to requests for comment about the district’s practices.
Stuck in seclusion
In Illinois, seclusion is meant to be used for safety purposes, not to punish students. Isolated timeouts also must end no more than 30 minutes after a student’s unsafe behavior stops. But records show some schools did not release children until they apologized or performed a task; others referred to childen “serving time.”
In nearly 6,000 of the incidents reporters analyzed from schools across the state, students were secluded only because they were disruptive, disrespectful, not following directions, not participating in class or a combination of those reasons.
“That is clearly not good practice,” said Kevin Rubenstein, president of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, which represents 1,200 public and private special-education administrators in the state. “To the extent there is bad practice going on across the state, we need to fix that.”
The Kaskaskia district’s revolving-door use of the timeout booths stands out, but some other districts seclude children nearly as frequently.
The Special Education District of Lake County used isolated timeout about 1,200 times over the 15-month period reporters examined. Northern Suburban Special Education District in Highland Park put children in seclusion more than 900 times.
Some traditional school districts also relied on seclusion. For example, Valley View School District 365U in Romeoville and Schaumburg District 54 each secluded students more than 160 times in the time period examined. Wilmette District 39 put students in isolated timeout 361 times in 2017-18 alone.
Illinois’ seclusion rules are more permissive than federal guidelines, which say seclusion should be used only in cases of “imminent danger of serious physical harm.” In Illinois, children can be secluded for physical safety concerns regardless of the threat level.
The state law also doesn’t encourage staff to try other interventions first. And while federal officials suggest that seclusion should end as soon as the problematic behavior stops, Illinois law allows a child to be secluded for up to 30 minutes more.
Even with these looser rules, the ProPublica Illinois/Tribune investigation found that Illinois schools regularly flout and misinterpret state law.
Some schools use seclusion — or the threat of it — as punishment. At the Braun Educational Center in south suburban Oak Forest, a classroom door features a sign saying: “If you walk to the door or open it you WILL earn” a visit to the “isolation and reflection” space. The school’s director said the sign is not a threat but a visual reminder that leaving is a violation of school rules.
Others won’t release children from seclusion until they apologize or sit against a wall or put their heads down. The Tri-County Special Education district in Carbondale routinely made children write sentences as a condition of release, records show. Students there often were kept in isolation long after the safety threat was over, sometimes even starting their next school day in a timeout room. Tri-County Director Jan Pearcy told reporters those practices ended this year.
Seclusion rooms: Four examples
Some Illinois schools provided images of their timeout rooms in response to public-records requests. The red buttons are commonly used to engage magnetic locks; to protect a child from being trapped, the buttons must be held down for the locks to work. Staffers also must be able to see inside the room.
Administrators in some districts have decided that putting a child in a room is not an isolated timeout if there is no door or the door is left open — even though the student is being blocked from leaving. State law does not say an isolated timeout requires a closed door.
“We only consider something isolated timeout if a student is in the room with the door shut and magnet (lock) held,” said Kristin Dunker, who heads the Vermilion Association for Special Education in Danville. “I understand this isn’t going to look good for us.”
At Bridges, records show how staff violated the state’s rules. Schools aren’t supposed to put students in seclusion for talking back or swearing, but Bridges did repeatedly. Workers also shut many students in booths for hours after the child’s challenging behavior ended.
One boy argued with Bridges workers as they tried to force him into isolation in March 2018 for being uncooperative. “I don’t want to go in a booth,” he said. “You’ll lock me in there all day.”
He was kept in the booth for nearly five hours.
Laura Myers saw Bridges’ timeout booths during school meetings and told administrators they should never be used on her 6-year-old son, Gabriel. A tiny, giggly boy with bright red hair, Gabriel has autism and is nonverbal, though he can sign a few words, including “blue,” “green” and “truck.”
“There’s a metal bench, the lock and key, the whole nine,” Myers said. “The sad part is there are parents there who don’t know it’s wrong and don’t know how their children are being treated.”
She was assured Gabriel would not be secluded. But she started to worry when he came home signing “timeout.” Now, she’s fighting for a different school placement.
HARM TO CHILDREN
Darla Knipe could hear it when she walked toward the timeout room in her son’s school: a thudding sound, over and over.
She turned to a school aide and asked: “‘What is that noise?’”
It was her 7-year-old son, Isaiah. The first grader was banging his head against the concrete and plywood walls of the timeout room at Middlefork School in Danville. Knipe was shocked. He didn’t do that at home, she said.
Documents from Isaiah’s school, part of the Vermilion Association for Special Education, show that he was put in the timeout room regularly beginning in kindergarten. He started banging his head in first grade and continued through third, doing it nearly every time he was secluded.
“Isaiah states he has headache and ringing in his ears,” according to a report from Dec. 8, 2017. “Nurse filling out concussion form.”
Then, a month later: “Nurse is concerned he has been head banging several times, even slower to answer than usual, he was dizzy when he stood up, almost fell over.”
Sitting in his home last spring, Isaiah, now 10, looked down when asked why he hits his head.
“I tell the teachers why,” he said. “The timeout room … I don’t like it.”
Records and interviews show how seclusion can harm children. Students ripped their fingernails or bruised their knuckles hitting the door. Their hands swelled and bled from beating the walls. In some cases, children were hurt so badly that ambulances were called.
Several parents said their children became afraid of school. Some said their children didn’t want to sleep alone. Other families said the rooms were so distressing that their children would not talk about them.
Angie Martin said her 9-year-old son now sees himself as such a bad child that he believes he belongs in seclusion. In less than three weeks at the start of this school year, he spent 731 minutes — more than 12 hours — in isolated timeout, records show.
“My concern is the damage that has been done, socially, emotionally and physically,” said Martin, whose son went to school in the Lincoln-Way Area Special Education district program in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. He now attends a private school.
The Tribune/ProPublica Illinois analysis found that the median duration of a seclusion was 22 minutes; in at least 1,300 cases the student spent more than an hour in isolated timeout.
One incident lasted 10 hours, with the student kept inside from breakfast into the evening.
Ross Greene, a clinical child psychologist and author of the book “The Explosive Child,” said repeated seclusion fuels a harmful cycle. Children who are frustrated and falling behind academically are taken out of the classroom, which makes them more frustrated and puts them even further behind.
“You end up with an alienated, disenfranchised kid who is being over-punished and lacks faith in adults,” Greene said.
Amber Patz, whose 11-year-old son Dalton was repeatedly secluded at The Center, an elementary school in East Moline for children with disabilities, said spending so much time in isolation put him behind academically and did not help him regulate his behavior.
“Putting you in this little room while you get red-faced does not work for him,” she said. “You have to think outside the box, but instead we are literally putting them in a box.”
Parents often do not know the details of what happens in seclusion. Though state law requires schools to notify families in writing within 24 hours each day a child is secluded, that doesn’t always happen.
While some notices describe the incident, others are form letters with just a checked box to indicate that a child was secluded. The law requires only that parents be notified of the date of the incident, whether restraint or seclusion was used, and the name and phone number of someone to call for more information.
Some parents said they got such abbreviated notices they didn’t know what seclusion meant or how long their child had been in a room. Others said staff used euphemistic language to describe seclusion, making it hard to understand what really happened.
Crystal Lake school employees have suggested to Kayla Siegmeier that her son, Carson, who has autism, might benefit from time in a “Blue Room,” she said.
“It turns out the Blue Room is a locked, padded room,” she said.
She read Illinois’ isolated timeout law and got a doctor’s note last year that prevented the school from secluding Carson, now a second grader. “Hard stop,” she said she told the school.
Crystal Lake school officials acknowledged they could be more transparent with parents and said they use the rooms only in emergencies.
In Danville, Darla Knipe knew that her son Isaiah was frequently in seclusion, but she didn’t know the school kept detailed incident reports each time it happened until reporters showed them to her.
“I never got anything like this,” Knipe said.
When she requested the reports from the district, she said, officials told her she could have asked for them any time. “Why would I ask for an incident report I didn’t know about to begin with?” she said.
The district gave her 212 reports, and she didn’t tackle the huge pile of paper right away. Then one night she woke up at 2 a.m. and stayed up for hours reading them. She learned what set Isaiah off and how he reacted.
“If we had talked after three, five, six of these, was there something I should have been doing?” she wondered.
She said she would have shared the reports with doctors who were working to diagnose the cause of his behavioral challenges. “I think about how different that boy could have been.”
Dunker, the district director, said that although parents don’t get minute-by-minute reports, they are notified by phone and then in writing after a seclusion. “I feel like that is just fine in terms of what a parent needs,” she said.
A BETTER WAY
There are school districts in Illinois — and all across the country — where seclusion isn’t the response to defiant or even aggressive behavior. In fact, it’s never an option.
Jim Nelson, who took over the North DuPage Special Education Cooperative in July 2016, said he put in a maintenance request on his first day to take the door off the seclusion room at Lincoln Academy, a therapeutic day school for students with emotional and behavioral difficulties.
The year before, the school in suburban Roselle, which has an enrollment of about 30, had placed students in the room 181 times, federal data shows. The space now has a lava lamp, fuzzy pillows, a beanbag and puzzles, and students go there on their own when they need a break, Nelson said.
He said he thinks all schools could get rid of seclusion and still be able to educate students. Since ending the practice, the North DuPage district has not seen an increase in the number of students transferred to more restrictive schools, he said.
“We have outbursts every day,” Nelson said, but “you are now trying to figure out what is the root of this outburst: Is it a home issue, a bus issue, a peer issue, a relationship issue, environment or fluorescent lights? We have to problem solve.”
Through the eyes of a child
Very few Illinois public schools allowed reporters or photographers to view the spaces they use for isolated timeout. So reporters who met with the families of secluded students invited children to draw their impressions of the rooms.
Administrators at schools that have closed their rooms say the cultural shift takes a lot of effort and training.
Eliminating seclusion generally requires two steps: first, embracing the philosophy that isolating children is unacceptable; second, teaching staff members how to identify and address the causes of challenging behavior before it reaches a crisis point.
Zac Barry, who teaches a system based at Cornell University called Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, said staff often get into a power struggle when students don’t obey, even over trivial matters.
“Don’t argue with them,” Barry said at a recent training session in Peoria for people who work with children. “If they don’t want to sit down, don’t try to make them sit down!”
Among other strategies, TCI teaches that it’s more effective to back away from an upset student, giving him space, than to move in closer. Teachers are trained how to stand in a nonthreatening way.
In Naperville School District 203, the rooms formerly used for isolated timeout are now sensory areas stocked with weighted stuffed animals and sound-blocking headphones.
Christine Igoe, who oversees special education in the 16,000-student district, said eliminating seclusion helps teachers and other staffers build relationships with students. Without seclusion as an option, she said, students and staff are less likely to be on high alert and anxious that situations will escalate.
“When you change your lens from ‘the student is making a choice’ to ‘the student is lacking a skill,’ everything changes,” Igoe said.
How do you feel?
The Kansas Treatment and Learning Center is among the schools that require secluded students to participate in a debriefing with staff members. Sometimes students cannot leave until they complete a “think sheet” describing how they feel and how they will behave better next time.
Kim Sanders, executive vice president of the Grafton behavioral health network in Virginia, which includes private therapeutic day schools, said schools there overhauled their approach after employees were injured in confrontations with students so frequently that the district lost its workers’ compensation insurance.
“Our outcomes were not great,” she said. “It was horrible for our staff morale.”
Since then, Grafton has developed a behavior model called Ukeru that it now sells to other schools. It’s based on the idea that staff should attempt to comfort, not control, children. When a child becomes violent, the system suggests staff use cushioned shields to protect themselves.
“If seclusion or restraint worked,” Sanders said, “wouldn’t you have to do it once or twice and you’d never have to do it again? It’s not working.”
LITTLE KIDS, LOCKED AWAY
Illinois schools secluded an 8-year-old boy who got upset when he couldn’t ride the green bike during recess, a first grade boy who didn’t want to stop playing tag and a third grader who didn’t get the prize he wanted.
Even preschool children spent time in isolated timeout, records show.
The majority of incident reports reviewed for this investigation did not specify the grade of the child. But ProPublica Illinois and the Tribune identified more than 1,700 incidents when the student being secluded was in fifth grade or younger. Hundreds of seclusions involved kids in preschool, kindergarten or first grade.
One 7-year-old boy named Eli spent 1,652 minutes — 27½ hours — in the “reflection rooms” as a first grader at a school called The Center in East Moline, school records show.
Still learning to say some of his letters, Eli calls the spaces the “flection” rooms. When his mom, Elisha, gently corrects him, he snuggles into her side. “It’s hard to really say,” he explained.
Eli was referred to The Center, which offers a program for children with behavioral and emotional disabilities, when he was in kindergarten. Records show he sometimes had trouble coping with the frustrations of elementary school — not unlike many other Illinois children who were secluded after outbursts common for their age.
When staff told him he couldn’t play with toys, he started to tip desks and chairs. Because he didn’t want to come inside from recess, he began “flopping,” refused to walk and was “being unsafe.” He “could not continue to play nice” with blocks and started to hit and tried to run out of class. Sometimes, he would kick staff or throw objects around the room.
According to records from the school district and his family, Eli was secluded more than a dozen times in kindergarten, beginning when he was 5. In first grade, it happened 49 times. His longest timeout was 115 minutes.
“There is no reason my child should be in a timeout room for two hours,” said his mother, who asked that the family’s last name not be published.
Elisha pulled her son out of The Center at the end of last school year after noticing bruises on his arm and a fingernail indentation that broke the skin. Records show Eli was physically restrained by three staff members and put in isolated timeout that day. He now attends a private school.
Schrader, director of the Black Hawk Area Special Education District, which operates The Center in northwestern Illinois, said staff at the school use the seclusion room “on a case-by-case basis, incident by incident” to help students learn strategies to calm themselves. She declined to comment on Eli’s case or that of any specific child.
“We use it more as a way to help the student learn to deescalate themselves and constant supervision to maintain their safety,” she said.
When a reporter asked Eli whether the calm down rooms helped him calm down, he shook his head no.
How did he feel when in the room?
“Mad,” he said quietly.
The seclusion rooms inside Braun Educational Center in Oak Forest look like so many others across Illinois: blue padding along the walls, a small window where staff can look in. The red button outside that locks the door. A mirror in the upper corner to give a fuller view.
In one room, three long tear marks were visible in the padding of the door — left there, the principal said, by a student with autism.
About 150 elementary through high school students with disabilities attend programs at Braun, which is operated by the Southwest Cook County Cooperative Association for Special Education. Gineen O’Neil, the co-op’s executive director, described many as troubled and challenging; some are homeless, abuse drugs, get pregnant or struggle with mental illness, she said. Some, she said, “run the streets” at night.
“People have to realize they get educated somewhere, and this is where it is,” O’Neil said.
Over 1½ school years, staffers isolated students nearly 500 times. O’Neil said students are not secluded as punishment.
But the Tribune/ProPublica Illinois analysis found that in 46% of seclusions at Braun, staff documented no safety reason that preceded the isolation. O’Neil said some of these incidents could have involved a safety issue despite the lack of documentation, but she also described the findings as “disturbing” and ordered a review of practices.
“You are making 1,000 judgment calls a day, you know what I mean?” O’Neil said. “You don’t always call them right.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, it was quiet in the halls. Most of the children had gathered to watch a movie and eat popcorn. They had earned the reward for good behavior.
But one boy didn’t qualify — and he was mad. The principal, Kristine Jones, said that after the rest of his class left for the movie, he shouted: “This place sucks. I’m leaving.”
He didn’t actually leave. But the boy was a “runner” when upset, Jones said, and they wanted to “pre-correct” his behavior.
So they took him to an isolation room.
Jennifer Smith Richards has been a reporter at the Chicago Tribune since 2015. Jennifer has a specialty in data analysis and previously covered schools and education for more than a decade at newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia; Utica, New York; Savannah, Georgia, and Columbus, Ohio. Her work has touched on everything from sexual abuse in schools to police accountability to school choice. Contact Jennifer by email and on Twitter.
Jodi S. Cohen is a reporter for ProPublica Illinois, where she has revealed misconduct in a psychiatric research study at the University of Illinois at Chicago, exposed a college financial aid scam and uncovered flaws in the Chicago Police Department’s disciplinary system. Previously, Jodi worked at the Chicago Tribune for 14 years, where she covered higher education and helped expose a secret admissions system at the University of Illinois, among other investigations. Contact Jodi by email and on Twitter.
Lakeidra Chavis is the reporting fellow for ProPublica Illinois. Previously, Lakeidra was a producer for WBEZ’s News Desk (Chicago Public Media), where she reported an in-depth piece on how Chicago’s black communities have been impacted by the opioid crisis. Contact Lakeidra by email and on Twitter.
Zbigniew Bzdak joined the Chicago Tribune as a staff photographer in 2002. His assignments included the war in Iraq, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 campaign of President Barack Obama and the first 100 days his first term. He left his native Poland to photograph kayaking expeditions exploring white-water rivers in Mexico and Peru. Contact Zbigniew by email or on Instagram.
Additional data analysis by Haru Coryne and data reporting by Kaarin Tisue, Nicole Stock, Brenda Medina and David Eads; additional research by Doris Burke; visual presentation by Agnes Chang, Jonathon Berlin, Chad Yoder, Vignesh Ramachandran, Sisi Wei, Jemal R. Brinson and Andrew Johnston.