Plans Move Forward For Level D School Despite Concerns *UPDATE*
After listening to concerns and forming a task force, Fargo Public Schools will move forward with plans for a ‘Level D’ school. One that is exclusively for those with learning disabilities. So it’s 2019 and the plan is we are going to seclude those with learning disabilities to a ‘special school’.
It Didn’t Work Six Years Ago
We talked about this six years ago! Seclusion and restraint are methods that are occasionally used when faculty and staff are unsuccessful in defusing a challenging situation. We can go out on a limb here and say that this form of reaction is not helping. Remember the Guiding Hands School? That was a school where children came from different districts because they (Guiding Hands) offered a level of ‘specialized care’ that was not available close to home. Unfortunately, a 13-year-old lost his life while being restrained, prompting the California Department of Education to revoke the school’s certification.
Restraint and Seclusion are not exclusive to one school *UPDATED*
Let’s be honest, restraint and seclusion are not exclusive to schools like Guiding Hands, or the Level D school that Fargo Public Schools intends to open. However, putting all your resources into one school will not help to provide a better education. What it will do is increase the stigma for students with disabilities. Isn’t that what we were trying to get away from in the first place? We shared this in regards to the Level D school last year.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; A free appropriate public education must be provided for eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation. Also, it ensures special education and related services are provided to those children at their neighborhood school. A Lawsuit was recently filed in Baltimore against an educational facility for students with disabilities. Check out this story from Disability Scoop. Unfortunately stories like this are not unique. In fact, they are all-too common. Three years ago, the Justice Department sued the state of Georgia for running a network of schools that segregated students with disabilities. Check out that story here. Closer to home, in Devils Lake, a jury recently charged Devils Lake Public Schools for retaliating against a staff who spoke up about abuse that was happening in a shelter for at-risk youth. Read that story here.
Inclusion is not the only thing at stake here. For so many with disabilities, being accepted by peers can be huge for personal growth. Being accepted is what makes us all part of something bigger. It can’t be understated how important acceptance can be. We have all been there.
Lack of Resources
One thing is for sure, schools lack resources to train and retain staff who are prepared to teach students with learning disabilities. Check out this story in Education Week. It just doesn’t make sense that if area schools are not equipped to teach students with learning disabilities to subtract the students. How about adding resources? We mentioned this before. What is so important that a majority of the community can’t pay an extra $20, $40 a year in taxes so that our schools can better prepare and train faculty?
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Remember the proposal to have armed first responders at schools as well as resource officers? I can’t begin to explain how backwards this is. Instead of finding the best way to reach out to kids with learning disabilities we are grabbing at straws to react when things go bad. And let’s face one more thing, many parents are not exactly checking all the boxes when it comes to positive interactions with their children at home. Parents are the first example and we need to be accountable for how we prepare our children for life.
Fund Education, Not Seclusion
It’s not fair to teachers when kids are placed into their classroom without any knowledge of the IEP or how to best reach that child. It’s not fair to children to be segregated because schools have to be reactive rather than proactive. If you feel that your child is being discriminated because of a learning disability here is a link to the Office Of Civil Rights.