New Law for Tracking Disciplinary Records of Disabled Students

Article excerpt

When students with disabilities transfer to new schools, their disciplinary records soon must accompany them, according to a bill signed Wednesday by President Bill Clinton.

For students and parents at McCluer North High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District of St. Louis County, the law has special significance. In January 1995, Christine Smetzer, 15, was found brutally beaten in a restroom; she later died. The student accused in the attack had a disability and had transferred to the school with a disciplinary record that McCluer North administrators knew nothing about.

That incident was a main reason that Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., pushed for the provisions enabling administrators to be informed about students with a history of disciplinary problems. He was at the White House when Clinton signed the new provisions as part of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. The new law also gives school administrators greater flexibility in disciplining students with disabilities. Students whose behavior relates to a disability can now be removed from the classroom, as long as they receive a hearing and continue to get an education elsewhere. Disabled children whose misbehavior is unrelated to their disability would be disciplined like any other child. …

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