Monday, October 21, 2002

More Appalling Special Education Policy

And we wonder why special education students are not making progress. . .

Stories of special-education children repeatedly handcuffed in front of classmates, sent to "time-out rooms" for long periods and disciplined in other ways for misbehavior have prompted a state review of "behavioral interventions."

Special education advocates say schools misuse time-out rooms and school police officers to deal with unruly students.

The stories of abuse are shocking:

His 16-year-old son, Joey, has an IQ of 49 and suffers from the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Because of his outbursts, he was placed in Dakota Ridge School, a small school in Apple Valley run by the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district for students with emotional or behavior disorders.

In the four months before removing Joey from the school in January, Callaway said his son was restrained 13 times, placed in a seclusion room 14 times, and was handcuffed by a sheriff's deputy six times.

Attorney Amy Goetz said her clients include an 8-year-old taken out of class three times by a police officer and an 11-year-old student with autism who spent 28 hours out of a 30-hour school week in an isolation room.

She worries that schools are criminalizing behavior that is a direct result of a child's disability. When protections afforded students under special-education laws become too burdensome for educators, too often schools call in police officers to deal with a situation, she said.

The story does not mention that this is one inevitable consequence of one-size-fits-all solutions like full-inclusion for special education students.

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