A familiar story? A promising young man, 16 years old, unnecessarily treated brutally - restrained at his school - and dies. And the system fails to respond to those seeking answers or to hold accountable those responsible. Sheila Foster, one of the founding parents of Action to Keep Students Safe, has told the story of her son Corey to Nightline, Anderson Cooper and others. Corey's tragic and unnecessary death is another reason that Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, needs to bring the Keeping All Students Safe Act out of committee and to the House for a vote. Please call your representatives and senators and tell them to support this important legislation and life-saving effort. Learn more at: www.KeepStudentsSafe.com.
Guest blog post by Sheila Foster -
Corey Anthony Foster was born April 25th 1995. He was a good baby. Every one loved Corey and wanted only the best for him. As a child Corey very independent and willing to learn what ever you put before him. We went on many family outings and trips, from swimming to snow boarding and skiing, horseback riding, and motorcycles, which was one of his favorite things to do. Corey loved the outdoors and exploring new places. During holidays and big family events he would help me prepare meals and the house for company. He loved to cook. Corey was very polite, well mannered and a joy to be around. In fact 3 weeks before he was killed he told me he wanted to attend Culinary Arts School. Corey never made it.
Corey attended Leake and Watts school in Yonkers New York. He was not only a student but he worked in the kitchen at various duties. Corey was not academically inclined but he was very talented in other ways of the arts. He loved to draw and build things. Corey fixed broken items such as TVs, radios and computers.
On April 18th 2012, one week shy of his birthday (April 25th 2012), Corey went to class, work and attended an award ceremony in which he received a gift card, a medal with his name and the ceremony date engraved on it and a Certificate of Excellence. He must have been excited... after all he was receiving a lot of awards and his birthday was soon to follow.
Four hours later the horror began. Corey was playing on a basketball court when 2 employees that work at the school approached him wanting him to leave the court so they could play basketball, but it was still the children's recreational time. I could see on the video from the school camera when it was played back to me that Corey continued to play and did not leave the court. In fact they tried to put him on another court with other kids... he played for a while with them but returned to the court that he was originally on. At some point in time counselors came to try and talk him off of the court but Corey was just shooting 3 pointers and was not irritated or violent.
The employees of Leake and Watts continued to play one on one during the children's recreational time. After a while they bumped into Corey while playing. Corey continued to play basketball. Forty-five minutes passed and the employees remained on the court (still during the children's recreational time). Corey continued to play on his own playing "around the world." After a while the employees bumped into Corey again... and this time they raised their hands to him and appeared to say something, then went for the ball. Corey then left the court and walked to the corner of the gym.
That is when he was approached by 3 employees and then the 2 other employees approached him from the court. One of the grown men slammed Corey to the wall and then the 5 adults proceeded to take Corey to the floor in a Prone Restraint. In watching the video I could see how the man in the white shorts was going with all his might to restrain Corey. They stayed on Corey's back till he stopped moving. I was told that Corey yelled out; "I can't breathe," and the employee's response was "You would not be able to talk if you could not breathe."
Corey died soon after.
The employees did not get off his back until he was dead. I was told they restrained him for 3 to 7 minutes.
On the night of April 18,2012 my husband and I were getting ready for bed when we received the first call. We were told that Corey fainted on the basketball court and to go to St. Joseph hospital located in Yonkers, NY.
Twenty minutes after that call I received a call from the Doctor and was told my son was dead. They indeed told me he was asphyxiated and was dead for an hour at the school before Corey arrived at the hospital. Corey was DOA.
Leake and Watts knew that my son was dead on the gym floor ...they knew he was dead but lied to me. My son walked into Leake and Watts and they returned him to me on a cold metal bed in a body bag. The employees of Leake and Watts KILLED my son and because of the laws that govern our State the men were returned to their jobs working and restraining more children. I am the voice of Corey and all the children that this barbaric crime is happening to. I will fight until I have no breath left to change laws so this will not happen to children again; and when I can no longer fight; my children will be the voice for Corey (their brother) and for many other children.
"MY CHILD TODAY, YOUR CHILD TOMORROW."
If this story sickens you the way it sickens me you can do something about it:
- Read Joe Ryan's Morning Zen piece on better alternatives to seclusion and restraint.
- Read Peabody Award recipient Bill Lichtenstein's story on seclusion and restraint.
- Watch the impassioned speech by Representative George Miller on the House Floor, advocating for passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in 2010 (the bill passed the House but did not pass the Senate).
- And finally, get involved in supporting the Keeping All Students Safe Act during this important month of August - we've made it easy for you!
President & CEO
Children's Mental Health Network