We don’t like to use the word “crippled” today — because we prefer to gloss over that historic, condemning, label with “disabled” — but the Government Accountability Office recently reported that schools are now restraining and punishing crippled children just because they are disabled.
Children with disabilities are being secluded from classmates and restrained against their will to control their behavior, a new investigative report finds — interventions that have led to harm and, in rare cases, deaths. …
In one case, a New York school confined a 9-year-old with learning disabilities to a “small, dirty room” 75 times in six months for whistling, slouching and hand-waving. In another, a Florida teacher’s aide gagged and duct-taped five misbehaving children to their desks; and police say a 14-year-old boy died when a special-education teacher in Texas lay on top of the student when he would not stay seated. Police ruled it a homicide, but a grand jury rejected criminal charges.
The findings from the GAO, Congress’ investigative arm, stop short of attaching a hard number to how many children are subjected to the practices, but investigators say they found “hundreds of allegations” of abuse involving restraint or seclusion at schools from 1990 to 2009; in Texas and California, they say, public schools recorded a combined 33,095 instances in the past school year alone.
The report details 10 children’s cases, four of which ended in death. Unlike in hospitals or residential treatment centers, there’s no federal system to regulate such practices in schools — and teachers are often inadequately trained, GAO says.
We once punished the “ugly and the crippled” in the United States until reason, and compassion for all humanity became the ethical station of the day.
Unfortunately, when money wanes and war wins — the first casualties in the homeland are the misbegotten, the unfortunate, and those who rely upon us for their critical care and slivers of happiness.