Saturday, March 28, 2009

CCSD Discipline and IEPs

If only discipline were better in the Charleston County School system, so much more learning could happen in our classrooms. That is the fervent wish of many a parent and resident of Charleston County. Many factors make classroom discipline effective, but one needs some careful inspection: the relationship between discipline problems and IEPs.

Here is a sample of blog comments regarding CCSD's discipline:
"A change in special education law must occur - fat chance - it would be political suicide for any candidate who took that on. The vast majority of violent acts in school are committed by kids who have IEPs. They have rights that supercede any wishes and desires the administration may have to expel. The Charleston area greatly lacks resources worth their weight in salt to assist kids and parents who fall into this category. Kids need it to learn how to properly socialize and handle anger, etc., while parents need it for, well, parenting special needs kids! And how to work WITH the school, not ARGUE with them when your child is a disruption, distraction, or unfortunately, dangerous."

"I strongly encourage any teacher or parent that is or has a child assaulted by one of these IEP kids to file a police report regardless of what your principal may say; there are jails full of folks that had IEPs at one time or the other."

"I believe the overuse of IEPs is a direct reflection of our current society as a whole. People look for a label or reason why their child acts out or struggles in a certain subject and an IEP is their answer.
Is this the dirty little secret of the discipline problems in Charleston County? Here is a comment from the recent discipline survey taken by the Charleston Teacher Alliance:
>"In my 30 years of teaching, the most significant negative impact to public school education has been the . . . policy on NCLB. These displaced children enter new school environments as unfamiliar to them as a foreign countries. The discipline adjustment alone is a key factor for their success and/or failure.

"In addition, the abuse of IEP and 504 documents has created a Teflon shield for the students who often drain each school of multiple resources. Many times these students receive little discipline and are readmitted when other offenders without 504 or IEP documentation would have received instant suspension and/or expulsion. At a given point, accountability and responsibility have to occur.

"In many cases the students become disposable kids dropped off in early morning hours and left unsupervised on school grounds. Principals lack the resources to monitor behavior as many hours as parents would wish. Too frequently, no matter what my principals have done to try to uphold discipline, their actions become undermined or overturned after a board meeting or through process steps of an "intervention" involving multiple staff titles and offices from an educational governmental hierarchy.

"So a student who has been a repeat offender, an arsonist--who so wanted to be apprehended that he left incriminating evidence linking himself to the fire---is likely to return to the very school in which he ignited the fires. It is a serious problem for us as a school, but even more for us as a nation. How many disturbed kids will we pass through the system? At what point do the problems escalate enough to attract attention and concern? Is it only when a Columbine or Virginia Tech tragedy occurs that our nation looks?
A Philadelphia teacher provides a comparison [See Teachers Count]

"At my school Individual Education Plans mean a student with an IEP has the right to roam the halls at will, molest children, and assault children.

"As I drink my morning coffee I see I brought home a suspension slip for a student. This student was touching a girl inappropriately. He did it last year as well. The teacher told me about it because the girl was afraid to complain and did not want him writing a pink slip on the offender. It seems she made the same complaint last year and actions taken only made the matter worse. I have the victim’s older sister in my class. I told her and she told her parents. Her Dad came down and at least got a result for two days.

"Another student just runs the halls all day. By the afternoon he is walking in and out of classrooms, knocking on doors, yelling into classrooms. It’s all on film and I’ve pink slipped him eight times in the past ten days. I could go on and on with examples but that is not the point.

"By and large most IEP students are well behaved and easy to work with. But for those exceptions, I have to question why administration is so disinclined to take action. We are told it is because of their legal rights: but regular education students have equal legal rights to a meaningful and safe education. In a case of competing and equal rights, why is it necessary for courts or politicians to intervene? Why can’t administrators do their job and insure each child is in the best possible learning environment?

"Dangerous behaviors unacceptable by societal standards are not typically manifestations of a child’s learning disability. If violence/aggression is a learning disability or a manifestation of one, then that individual child cannot be safely integrated into a larger population. Children in Philadelphia learn the dangers of snitching in schools. Other students learn that inappropriate behaviors are okay. I am told this past Thursday another boy grabbed a girl in a molesting type manner. Reportedly he was told he would be suspended if he does it again.

"The hidden curriculum in Philadelphia is dangerous to society and it shows up in our criminal statistics.

Perhaps, Charleston, like Philadelphia, we have a problem.

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