Feds Urging Schools To Ease Discipline Measures For Students With Disabilities

The feds are urging schools to ease student discipline policies to accommodate students with disabilities,

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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student discipline

The U.S. Department of Education is pressuring schools to ease disciplinary practices for students with disabilities. Instead of suspending disruptive students or those who are uncontrollable, teachers are to be instructed to offer more support. In addition school resource officers have been asked to relax their student discipline policies.

While many children are experiencing unprecedented issues due to the long-term effects of pandemic protocols and prolonged isolation, this places increased stress on teachers who are already taking on extra duties and experience increased violence during the teacher shortage. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), one-third of teachers were verbally harassed or threatened with violence by students during the pandemic. Teacher burnout is being experienced to such a degree that more than half of teachers are considering quitting in an already desperate profession.

While student support is necessary, being that the country is dealing with a national emergency in youth mental health, relaxing student discipline may only increase teacher’s stresses and force them out of the profession. In addition, although discipline may be correlated with negative experiences, setting valuable rules and enforcing them teaches students how to succeed and what behaviors to avoid. Without the proper student discipline, children do not learn from their mistakes or resolve problems as easily. 

Unfortunately, some teachers have taken student discipline too far. As school violence cases increase, and educators have faced more threats, so have students. Teacher abuse against children has been recorded in various incidents throughout the past school year. The most shocking case charged a New Jersey teacher’s aid with violently attacking a 7-year-old with autism and even throwing him down a staircase

This case has shocked parents and teachers, being that disabled students are not always able to understand the rules or follow them to the degree that other students do. In order to properly teach these children and aid them through their difficulties, student discipline cannot be enforced the same way for disabled students, and this is exactly what Education Secretary Miguel Cardona noted when addressing the issue yesterday. He mentioned that “appropriate interventions” are necessary, especially as students struggle with the long-term effects of pandemic protocols. 

Knowing exactly what student disciplinary actions should be used is a complex issue that schools are facing for the 2022-2023 school year. As less teachers enter the profession and more leave, class sizes are likely to grow yet again. Youth mental health issues cannot possibly resolve themselves and so students experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts will continue to require added support, just as school security measures must be followed to ensure the safety of the children and educators who attend class every day. 

student discipline

Balancing the needs of students and teachers is becoming increasingly difficult, especially as student discipline practices fall under scrutiny, but protecting children with disabilities is a top priority of the Department of Education and many Americans. As the new school year is set to begin soon, districts are being instructed to decrease school suspensions and seek alternative conflict resolution options. Whether this will help students and teachers to stay safe and enjoy a more enriching educational experience remains to be seen.