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Ban on Paddling Is Deleted From Bill on Disabled

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Washington--Legislation reauthorizing some federal special-education programs was approved last week by a House committee--minus a controversial provision that would have barred educators from paddling disabled students.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted to strip the corporal-punishment ban from the bill after a lengthy debate over whether it should apply to aversive-therapy procedures. Such techniques, ranging from the use of vinegar sprays in the face to the administration of electric shocks, are sometimes used to curb self-injurious behavior, such as head-banging, in children.

"Apparently, there was a lot of confusion created at the last minute," said Kevin Dwyer, who lobbied on behalf of the ban for the National Association of School Psychologists and a number of other groups.

Proponents of the prohibition blamed the confusion, in part, on the recent efforts to lobby against the ban by a group of parents whose children were being treated through aversive-therapy techniques.

The removal of the corporal-punishment ban was the only major change made to the legislation, known as the "Education of the Handicapped amendments act of 1990," or hr 1013. The bill provides $700 million to fund a variety of research, model demonstration, and grant programs through 1994.

Before the committee vote last week, the bill had also been modified slightly, at the request of Representative Matthew Martinez of California, to ensure that limited-English-proficient students would benefit from some of its initiatives aimed at improving services for minority students.

The California Democrat said that l.e.p. students are often underserved or inappropriately placed in special-education programs.

The measure also addresses a number of other critical problems in the field. They include: shortages of special-education personnel, the need for better dissemination of research, the needs of emotionally disturbed students, and ways to improve disabled children's transition from work to school.

The panel approved the measure on a voice vote. Aides said it is expected to be voted on by the House in June.--dv

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