The Bluegrass Institute has an emphasis on the particularly pressing needs for parents of students with learning disabilities to have greater school choice options. Our reports, Enable the Disabled, and The Most Left Behind of All stress some of the issues and problems that confront these parents when their children are trapped in public schools.
Now, a recent 2009 report from the National Disabilities Rights Network adds still more examples of how these special kids sometimes face horrible conditions in Kentucky’s one-size-must-fit-all-students public schools.
In a series of atrocious examples from around the country, three Kentucky cases are singled out.
In the first case, the report says on page 19 that,
“A nine year old with autism was placed in a closet with a small window on seventy-eight occasions when he did not comply with the teacher’s directions.”
Imagine that, a kid with autism confined seventy-eight times! There’s a great learning experience for you!
Then, on page 23 the report cites two more examples under a section about students who are tied up, pinned down or battered.
“A six year old boy diagnosed with bipolar disorder was forced to sit in a partitioned area of his classroom. When behavior issues erupted in the classroom three school personnel, all males, came into the classroom and physically dragged the child out of the school and into a van. He was taken to his therapist’s office so that she could see how ‘bad’ he was.”
“A nine year old boy diagnosed with a separation anxiety disorder was subjected to restraint daily over a two week period.”
Both of these boys needed a different approach that they were not getting in the public school system.
Sadly, the National Disabilities Rights Network report does not call for school choice, but when their evidence in this brand new report is added to that collected as early as 2001 in the Kentucky audits mentioned in The Most Left Behind of All, it is clear that these sorts of problems have an excessively long history in our public school system. Moreover, nearly a decade of just reporting about the problem and the teacher training conducted to date have not caused the necessary changes to occur.
Continuing to trap disabled kids in a hostile environment for so long a period just isn’t acceptable. It’s clearly past the time to look at other options like school choice scholarships for these kids and their parents. There are options like this elsewhere in places like Florida, so why is Kentucky being left behind?