NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Problems Disciplining Disabled Students

May 14, 1997

Growing numbers of educators say the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, passed in 1975, has a dangerous flaw. By requiring that disabled children attend school in the "least restrictive setting," it also restricts the ability of teachers and principals to discipline special education students -- even those caught bringing weapons and drugs to school.

  • Congress just rewrote the law, but teachers' and principals' groups remain alarmed -- saying the revisions don't go far enough.
  • They say the new legislation sets up such complicated rules before a youngster can be disciplined for assault that it doesn't deal with one of their major problems -- special education students who attack their teachers, or each other, with fists.
  • The educators point out that teeth, feet and hands can become weapons just as readily as knives can.
  • Teachers are also dismayed that the law doesn't strengthen their ability to deal with disruptive special education children.

Some advocates for the handicapped opposed any sanctions on disruptive behavior, the teachers charge.

Source: June Kronholz, "Educators Say Proposed Law Boosting Ability to Punish Disabled Kids Doesn't Go Far Enough," Wall Street Journal, May 14, 1997.


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