A Solution Hiding in Plain Sight: Special Education and Better Outcomes for Students with Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Challenges

By Cannon, Yael; Gregory, Michael et al. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, December 2013 | Go to article overview

A Solution Hiding in Plain Sight: Special Education and Better Outcomes for Students with Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Challenges


Cannon, Yael, Gregory, Michael, Waterstone, Julie, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction    I.  Poor Outcomes for Students with Social, Emotional and        Behavioral Challenges          A. Low Achievement          B. Suspensions and Expulsions          C. School Dropout          D. Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System          E. Psychiatric Hospitalization and             Institutionalization in Residential Treatment Centers   II.  Mapping Implementation Failures of IDEA'S Key        Provisions          A. Child Find and Evaluation             1. Key Child Find and Evaluation Provisions             2. Implementation Failures of Child Find and                Evaluation Provisions          B. The IEP Process             1. Key IEP Process Provisions             2. Implementation Failures of the IEP Process                Provisions          C. Related Services             1. Key Related Services Provisions             2. Implementation Failures of Related Services                Provisions          D. Behavior-Related Provisions             1. Key Behavior-Related Provisions.             2. Implementation Failures of Behavior-Related                Provisions   III. Prioritizing Implementation of Key IDEA Provisions          A. Suggestions for Improving Implementation             1. Increased Teacher Training, Awareness of                Disabilities and Related Social, Emotional,                and Behavioral Challenges, and the Need for                Ongoing Professional Development             2. Ensuring Clarity and Timeliness in the Referral                Process.             3. Securing Comprehensive Evaluations that Include                All Relevant Parties             4. Collaboration with Parents Prior to the IEP                Meeting             5. Guaranteeing the Necessary and Relevant Parties                Attend the IEP Meeting.             6. Ensuring Interpretation and Translation Are                Available to Parents and Students             7. More Creative Use of Related Services             8. Empowering Parents through Meaningful Training                and Information.             9. Improved Understanding and Implementation of                Behavior-Related Provisions          B. Addressing Some Critiques of Special Education and             of IDEA             1. The Problem of Stigma             2. Overrepresentation of Minority Students             3. Low-Quality Programs..             4. Cost Conclusion 

Introduction

Anthony, (1) a nine-year-old African-American boy, was asked by his teacher to write an essay about his family. In addition to the frustration he felt because of his difficulty spelling and writing in complete sentences, this assignment also triggered flashbacks to an event that had occurred a year earlier--he started picturing his father viciously beating his mother and leaving her lying on the floor helpless. Anthony remembered walking over to his mother after his father left the house and finding her unresponsive. He also recalled waiting for the paramedics after he dialed 911 and the chilling feeling he had after they arrived and pronounced her dead. As these events flashed through his mind, Anthony flew into a rage. He began yelling and cursing at the teacher. He flipped a desk over. Immediately, the teacher told the students to leave the classroom and called the school resource officer. Anthony was arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall. After remaining there for several days, he was admitted to a mental health institution for a few weeks, and then released to the group home where he had been living for the previous three months. As a result of this incident, Anthony faced exclusion from school and a delinquency case that could remove him from his community for up to a year.

The desk incident was not an isolated one for Anthony. On numerous occasions, he had outbursts in the classroom where he threw books, pencils or other small objects. He was routinely suspended for fights with other students or for talking back to teachers and staff. …

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