Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So District 150’s old suspension policy didn't follow the law?

If it's more difficult to suspend a student with an IEP, perhaps District 150 will think twice before issuing them. Good news for black males, as this could possibly present a chance for a more “mainstream” education.

In my opinion, the news story below illustrates another example of the violation of children’s rights that have been happening in District 150 for very long time. ACLU stuff, right? And people in Peoria wonder how we got to where we are.

It's interesting that this story would run in the Journal Star and not mention that for years Martha Ross has been standing up for the children who were being expelled and suspended.

Here's to the people who made light of that...

District 150 addressing discipline for disabled students
School Board puts new policy on display after warnings from state

District 150 on Monday said it is taking steps to correct a years-old problem of how it disciplines students with disabilities after warnings by the state.

Maureen Langholf, who earlier this year was named director of special education at District 150, said it has put in place more intervention procedures, provided additional social training to special education teachers, and even began placing some students in half-day programs at the Moss Avenue building that houses Peoria Alternative High School and the Adult Education Center.

"It's stopped the high number of days per child" who have been suspended, Langholf said Monday prior to the School Board putting on public display a new policy. She also acknowledged the decreased numbers are not necessarily indicative of less bad behavior.

Langholf said the goal is to help get at the root problem of why students are misbehaving and addressing it, rather than simply applying punitive measures, not to mention addressing federal law. Students also are receiving more educational services, with more than three hours in a school setting versus one hour by a tutor at home.

Under the revised discipline guidelines for students with disabilities, students may be suspended for no more than 10 days each year. After 10 days out, the district must provide educational services in accordance with that student's Individual Education Plan. Behavior intervention plans also must be established.

A special education student who carries or possesses a weapon to or at school, possesses or uses illegal drugs or inflicts serious bodily injury upon another person at school shall be placed in an alternative educational setting for no more than 45 school days, the revised policy states.

Superintendent Grenita Lathan said Monday the rules cannot prevent expulsion of a special education student.

At issue with the state has been the school district's past practice of suspending students with disabilities in increments of up to three days after they already had been suspended for 10 days, which violates federal law. It's unclear how many students were included in the citation from the state, which ranges from 2007 to 2010.

No additional staff members were hired for the changes put in place this year, though more work from teachers, administrators and special education staff is required, officials said.

"It's more work for schools, but it's part of our responsibility," said Bill Salzman, the district's director of student affairs.

The new policy, which district officials say follows the law, is expected to go before the board next month for formal adoption.


Sharon Crews said...

This issue will become even more interesting as District 150 continues to mainstream special education students. In regular classrooms, students with special needs are possibly more likely to become discipline problems.

Of course, the law doesn't state that special ed students can't be suspended (I honestly believed that was the case--maybe I have it confused with expulsions); they just have to receive more special services if they are suspended more than 10 days.

I am working slowly on compiling data on suspensions that I received through a FOIA. It would be interesting to know how many of the suspensions were for special ed students--I didn't think to ask that question. Someone else could do that if I don't find the time.

Anonymous said...

Special Education students CAN be expelled provided the incident is/was not a manifestation of their disability. And I completely disagree with the notion that Special Education students are "possibly more likely to be discipline problems." In fact, it's often the opposite.

Jenny said...

I wonder how many of the Special Ed teachers are actually trained in Spec. Ed?

Sharon Crews said...

Anonymous, I agree that often special ed students are more likely to behave. When I was at Manual, special ed students were sent to regular classes unless they were capable of coping. Often they were better prepared that were some of my students who probably needed special help but hadn't been classified for one reason or another.

However, I am assuming that when so many are being mainstreamed (without the extra preparation), they might tend to be more frustrated, etc. Just guessing--and I may not be right at all.

No that special ed teachers just float from room to room to help students in regular classes, my guess is that fewer and fewer qualified and dedicated special ed teachers will want to waste their time and talents in District 150.

When I was at Manual, our special ed teachers were superior--really took an interest in their students and their progress.

Anonymous said...

Martha hasn't been "standing-up", she refuses to suspend anyone for anything. Remember the "students" who beat a child to within an inch of his life at Sterling? Nope. Don't remove them from school. Kids with guns? Nope. Don't be too harsh on'em cuz they just don't know better. Actions should have consequences. Martha plays victimology. I'd be more impressed if Martha had some righteous indignation over parental apathy. Easier to fly to San Diego for a conference.

Lea said...

Anonymous #1 I completely agree with the statements you made. I'm surprised that Dist 150 has not been in compliance with the 10 day suspension according to school code. I think that is part of the problem with 150 is that the lawyers are not providing proper guidance according to school code.

In a lot of districts in the area most special education students are mainstreamed and actually excel as long as the regular education teacher is providing the proper accomodations and they have resource support from the special education teachers. The students in the district I live in have resource time where they work on their homework, etc with the special education students.