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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Challenging' students with disabilities are sent home (but not suspended)


Photo: Shlomaster/Pixabay

Schools aren't supposed to suspend special-needs students if their misbehavior is related to their disability. But some schools use "informal removals" to send challenging students home early or limit their school hours, writes Erica L. Green in the New York Times.


Another tactic is "transfers to nowhere," charged the National Disability Rights Network in a report last year. Students are sent to programs that don't exist, have no seats or won't accept them. Among the cases:

AA is a 10-year-old child who has a diagnosis of autism. He was placed in over 100 restraints at school during his kindergarten and 1st grade years. In the beginning of his 2nd grade year, he was placed on homebound services due to disability related behaviors.  He was not allowed to attend school events or to participate in extracurricular activities

Schools are required to report formal suspensions and expulsions, but not informal removals. That could change, writes Green. "The Education Department warned schools last summer that informal removals — including shortened school days — could violate federal civil rights laws," writes Green. "In October, federal lawmakers called for the department to specifically include informal removals as a type of prohibited discrimination" in revisions of federal disability law.


Many commenters argued that children who have outbursts don't belong in general education classrooms.


This is the kind of rhetoric that allows a small minority of students to destroy the educational experience of every other child in their class. Maintaining an orderly classroom where students aren't throwing desks at their teachers isn't an unreasonable ask.

P charges that schools keep students in mainstream classes because it's cheaper, even if inclusion doesn't serve their learning or emotional needs.

I have an autistic son who is also intellectually disabled. He has frequent loud meltdowns that can last up to an hour. He hits himself and bangs his head on his desk. He needs a quiet environment with few transitions. He needs the same teacher all day. His academics are at primary level. Our school district insisted that his high school LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) was gen-ed, without an aide. It took a whole year and thousands of dollars in legal fees to get him assigned to a special public school for children with disabilities. During the time he was in forced inclusion, the poor teachers were beside themselves, calling us to try and figure out how to handle him. It was horrible. He lost a whole year of learning and cried all day every day.

A Little Grumpy is a teacher:

My seventh grade student, Robert, liked to pretend he was a worm and writhe on the floor. . . . Do you want to know how easy it was to teach reading comprehension strategies to 31 twelve-year-olds while their classmate lay next to them on the floor wiggling and wiggling. His parents shouted at every meeting that we were failures and just trying to medicate him. . . . Robert’s legal rights were sacrosanct. . . . I had a lot of vulnerable, lower-income students in that cohort - seventh graders reading on a second grade level. Their right to an education was absolutely secondary to his right to be there in my classroom. Robert was the only legally protected person in that room.

The six-year-old Virginia boy who shot his first-grade teacher is said by his parents' lawyer to have an "acute" but unspecified disability. I think sympathy for children with violent outbursts is very low.

14 Comments


Guest
Feb 16, 2023

Those who cannot learn need to be excluded from regular classes and form their own learning environment which doesn’t teach reading, writing, math, civics, geography. What we have now is an absolute shower of shit.

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Guest
Feb 15, 2023

No one seems to grasp the fact that you don't have a "right" to an education.


A right is a freedom of action. That's it. It is not exercised by compulsion -- either compulsion to attend government funded schools OR to tax others for the compulsory funding of those schools. You cannot exercise any right -- any freedom -- under compulsion.


To properly exercise the "freedom" of education requires a contract that can be enforced on either end. Between the public school administrative bureaucracy and the public teachers' unions, how does the average taxpaying parent enforce their end of the contract, let alone choose any terms of the contract? Answer: they can't. You can't exercise your "right" to an education…


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Guest
Feb 16, 2023
Replying to

Agree. The bottom line is that FAPE only applies to one group. All others can take the offering or leave it...and when the district chooses to only offer 'enough to pass', the cycle of poverty continues.

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Guest
Feb 15, 2023

The socialist idea that everybody is "equal" and they all should be in the same classrooms is not working ... just like most of the other socialist ideas. We need to fire teachers and administrators who are openly "Woke" and start putting people with common sense in the school systems.

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Guest
Feb 15, 2023

Ever been in a fully included elementary classroom? The students who do not have a right to an appropriate ed will not even be able to see the teacher thru the crowd of 1:1 aides and will often be unable to hear the lesson as the paras do their job. However, it doesn't really matter. The teacher isn't going to be able to proceed at the speed and depth needed to cover a year's worth of grade level material because guess what happens when differentiation is attempted? Yes, the parents of the below grade level students object and the Board backs them up. Tutoring or afterschooling is necessary for the serious student and the gifted, or more behavior problems a…

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obiwandreas
Feb 15, 2023

A few thoughts:


1) Setting up the proper supports and environments for the difficult cases is expensive. Hard to find the funds when you're busy loading up your district with administrators with fancy departments for DEI.


2) Restorative justice circles require the presence of those responsible for the behavior, and those negatively affected by it. Put the parents of some of these kids in a circle with all the other parents in the room. Watch what happens.


3) Many of these students need professional assistance. For many others (worm kid comes to mind), the needed prescription may simply be direct application of acute pressure to the posterior to be repeated as long as symptoms persist.

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Guest
Feb 15, 2023
Replying to

I think that people really underestimate the behavior problems caused by frustrated kids. I volunteered at an afterschool program that served, among others, kids from a new 'high expectations' charter school. The behavior problems that I dealt with during the early years, as the school was figuring out what the kids could reasonably do, were crazy. I usually pulled students out of the group to work 1:1, and what I saw was so much frustration from kids who had missed a skill or were being taught above what they were developmentally ready to do. Sometimes I'd see an epic change in behavior between when I last saw them in May and when I was back with them in August,…

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