Search This Blog

Monday, January 31, 2022

Informal Removals

 In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

 The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) has a report titled "Out from the Shadows: Informal Removal of Children with Disabilities from Public Schools."  The report lists several ways in which such informal removals take place:

An informal poll of P&As [protection and advocacy agenices] in August 2021 found the following issues to be the most common in their discipline work:
  • Repeated or long-term use of a shortened school day, as a result of behaviors related to the child’s disability.  Sending children home frequently in the middle of the school day, as a result of behaviors related to the child’s disability. These removals tend to be at irregular times and may not occur daily, but occur often enough to cause harm to the child.
  • Placing children on homebound instruction almost always with fewer than ten hours (often only 1-5 hours) of in-person tutoring per week due to behaviors related to the child’s disability. A typical public-school calendar requires about 30 hours of in school time per week.
  • Placing children on virtual or remote education due to behavior related to the child’s disability (rather than contagion prevention), even after other students have returned to in-person schooling (following COVID-19 pandemic building closures or restrictions.)
  • “Transfers to nowhere:” the involuntary transfer by the Local Education Agency (LEA)7 to a program that does not exist, has entrance requirements that the child cannot meet, or has no openings.
  • Entering into “Agreements in Lieu of Suspension” or related contracts

Some case studies from the report:

  •  Three students with diagnoses of autism, from the same small town, were repeatedly sent home because the LEA didn’t have sufficient paraprofessional (teacher’s aide) coverage and they were considered “too hard to handle.” One child was not in school for almost a year.  The other two students were repeatedly sent home for shorter lengths of time. All three children experienced significant disruption and delay in their education because they simply weren’t receiving an education. 
  • AA is a 10-year-old child who has a diagnosis of autism. He was placed in over 100 restraints at school during his kindergarten and 1st grade years. In the beginning of his 2nd grade year, he was placed on homebound services due to disability related behaviors.  He was not allowed to attend school events or to participate in extracurricular activities.  He did not have a seat in a classroom or a locker for at least 3 school years (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade.) When asked, he cannot describe a typical school day.
  • CC was 15 years old and in the 9th grade at the time the P&A represented her. She was diagnosed with a seizure disorder at 6 months and then with autism in her teens. Except for a few words, CC is mostly non- verbal. The LEA contacted her mother many times per month to pick her up from school: whenever her behavior began to escalate or when the teacher or her assigned aide would be absent. This resulted in the equivalent of weeks of missed school