A 15-year-old with a long and troubled history killed the principal of his rural Wisconsin school last fall. The Wall Street Journal asks if mainstreaming disturbed students is at fault.
When Eric Hainstock didn’t get his way in kindergarten, he told other children his father would kill them. In fifth grade, he tried to spray a homemade concoction he called blood into the mouths of classmates. In sixth grade, he threatened others, fought, and talked “about killing himself and others.”
Worried about these and other incidents recounted in internal school reports, teachers and a school psychologist recommended that Eric, who was diagnosed in second grade with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, get more one-on-one attention, or be placed in a special private school. Instead, he was one of millions of special-education students mainstreamed in regular classes.
I think there are questions about how best to educate students with emotional and behavior problems. This boy would have been happier in a special ed class or a special school where he could have received more individual attention. I’m sure his teachers and classmates would have been happier without him. But it’s a huge stretch to suggest that mainstreaming leads to murder.