Monday, June 2, 2008

Survivor: Special Education Edition

My recent posts concerning disability discrimination were meant to drive home the point that even discrimination which should be readily apparent can sometimes be missed. On the other hand, sometimes it is just too ridicules to be believed.

In case you missed it, newspaper reports indicate that a Florida kindergarten teacher was recently removed by the school board after she had the class vote on whether a five year old, who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, should be removed from the classroom. Apparently the class first discussed how it felt about the student's inappropriate behaviors, and then voted him out by a margin of 14 to 2. If the board finds the allegations to be true, the teacher will likely be fired.

Here are some of the press accounts:

This is just sad. How humiliating for a little guy to be kicked out of kindergarten by his classmates at the invitation of his teacher. I anticipate that a lawsuit will follow, and with good reason. The discrimination is unfortunately very clear here.

This sad situation raises some serious legal questions. The first and most obvious is: what the heck was this teacher thinking and how could she do this to a young child. After the first question, however, there are other issues. For example, what kind of behavior intervention plan was in place to appropriately deal with any behavior problems. One also must wonder what appropriate supports, modifications and aids were in place to ensure that this mainstream placement would be successful. Many people are surprised to learn that the words "inclusion" and "mainstream" are not found anywhere in IDEA. The law does require, however, that each student with a disability be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that is appropriate for that student. Those who work for LRE placements in IEPs should consider all factors that might help the child to succeed, including appropriate supports, modifications and aids.
In this case, the possible absence of supports by no means justifies the appalling incident of child abuse in this case. The key point here is that this teacher acted in a most outrageous manner. Discrimination is not always subtle.


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  2. i just voted for ur blog in returns. see ya

  3. Glad your brought it up in your blog. One way to fight discrimination is bringing every such act out in the public

  4. Thanks for the great blog. One of your earlier posts about bullying inspired my law review note on bullying as a denial of FAPE. This post gave me some more good background material. I'll be citing to your blog. E-mail a mailing address to and I'll send you a copy when it is published in the fall. Thanks for the research ideas.

  5. Thanks for the kind words Anonymous. I look forward to receiving a copy of your note.