A growing number of special needs students is creating new pressures on public schools and teachers, according to an Associated Press story. In some states, court decisions and legislation are barring special education instructors from aggressively restraining or secluding disruptive students. Michigan lawmakers, for example, outlawed holding students facedown on the ground after a disabled student died from being subjected to this type of restraint. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is campaigning to eliminate restraint and seclusion in special education classrooms. But existing laws make it hard to expel or suspend disabled students, and some educators say they sometimes have to use severe methods to protect other students and teachers.
How can public school best handle the increased number of students with disabilities? Do special education teachers need to use aggressive methods, like restraint and seclusion, to discipline misbehaving students? What is an appropriate punishment for especially unruly students with special needs?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Talkback blog.