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Matthew Isreal to retire from the Judge Rotenberg Center

Posted May 05 2011 8:58pm

Below is the first paragraph of the announcement on the Judge Rotenberg Center:

Canton, MA (May 2, 2011) – Forty years ago, Dr. Matthew Israel founded the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC). Today, he announced his retirement as Executive Director of JRC, effective June 1, 2011.

The JRC and Matthew Israel are well known for use of and the high level of aversives used, as well as problems that have arisen from what even they admit is a misuse of these techniques:

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton is believed to be the only facility in the country that uses often painful electric shock therapy on disabled children in order to alter behavior. In 2007, the State launched a criminal investigation into an incident where a prank phone call to the school led to the repeated electric shocking of two individuals in the dead of night. One of them, a child, was shocked 29 times, the other was shocked 77 times – sometimes while restrained, causing burns so severe they needed to be treated at a hospital. That investigation is apparently ongoing. In October 2009, the JRC made headlines again when Director Matthew Israel was fined by the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure for allowing 14 unlicensed employees at the school to use the title “psychologist.”

A permanent replacement For Mr. Israel has not been named.

Dr. Israel, 77, informed the JRC Board of Directors last week that he will step down on June 1, 2011 and move to California where he will join his wife Judy. The JRC Board of Directors voted to accept his resignation, with regret, and then voted to appoint longtime Assistant Executive Director Glenda Crookes as the Interim Executive Director. The Board also authorized a national search process to identify a permanent successor to Dr. Israel.

Given the glowing press release they have for his departure, I don’t expect the JRC to change it’s methods under a new director. I also expect they will continue to work hard to keep any outside observers from coming in and evaluating the program.

  1. KWombles:
    It's about time he's leaving, but I suspect you're right and there will be little in the way of change. Why should they? If the state doesn't have a problem, and the parents don't have a problem, then there's no reason to change and every reason to continue. I noticed in the pieces I did at Science 2.0 on the ultimate restraint system being used in a public Florida school for the disabled that no one really seems to care, at least not at the school district level. The manufacturer didn't, either. And one parent commenting on the same piece (although she later deleted the comments) at the directory was all in favor of it and wanted one for home use. There's something wrong with a society that sees no harm in what is unarguably physically painful punishment and what I would argue is abuse.
  2. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.:
    Sullivan: "Given the glowing press release they have for his departure, I don’t expect the JRC to change it’s methods under a new director. I also expect they will continue to work hard to keep any outside observers from coming in and evaluating the program." I think you're absolutely right there. There's no perceived pressure to change, so it is pretty much guaranteed that it won't change. Kim: "There’s something wrong with a society that sees no harm in what is unarguably physically painful punishment and what I would argue is abuse." Absolutely right. And I have a reference, which I shall come back with later today, that suggests that such punishments are likely to increase the risk of violent behaviour rather than decrease it (the joys of studying forensic psychology!).
  3. stanley seigler:
    "Israel, 77, informed the center's board of directors last week that he will move to California, where he will join his wife Judy [weber]" Israel and wife run tobinworld, glendale ca, and tobinworld II, antioch ca. Glendale's Tobinworld is a private school. It is coed and nonsectarian, serving 288 students in grades 1-12. israel and wife run tobinworld...in 1977 isreal open a school in CA...in 1982, he settled with state officials and agreed to stop using physical punishments and the facility became tobinworld...and israel went back to MA. if interested in details google tobinworld...also one may want too review the MJ article...http://motherjones.com/politics/2007/08/school-shock stanley seigler
  4. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.:
    Working on that reference as a blogpost for my own blog sometime soon. Had a few things to do in my consultancy work.

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