Parents And Advocates Say Too Many Schools Use Cops To Manage
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 29, 2003
HOUSTON, TEXAS--Since the 1997 version of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was released, educators and school officials have been calling police more often to handle "behavior problems" involving students with disabilities.
The use of the justice system to deal with school-related behavior incidents has become common enough across the nation that the Center for Law and Education developed strategies for parents to sue school districts in such cases.
In its 2001 report, "When Schools Criminalize Disability; Education Law Strategies for Legal Advocates," the center accused some administrators of using police as a way of forcing students with disabilities out of their schools rather than spending the resources needed to help the students to succeed in school.
"This is a major problem," said Richard Lavallo, attorney in the Austin office of Advocacy Inc.
"They call police, the situation escalates and the child freaks out," Lavallo told the Houston Chronicle. "The child starts hitting back and they end up in a juvenile facility."
Even police acknowledge that they are sometimes misused.
"It happens a bunch of times," said Texas Association of School District Police President Lt. Jeff Ward. "The police officer should not be a shortcut to classroom management."
"Schools accused of criminalizing disability" (Houston Chronicle)
"When Schools Criminalize Disability/Education Law Strategies for Legal Advocates" (Center for Law and Education)