School system reviews discipline policy for special needs students

Published 12:43 pm Friday, October 2, 2015

With the non-compliance issue of disciplinary actions toward students with special needs continuing to grow amongst the school systems, the Butler County Board of Education has taken a proactive approach to remedying this situation.

The non-compliance issue of the discipline of students with special needs became a priority to Superintendent Amy Bryan in April when she met with the state special education leaders regarding the higher-than-acceptable number of suspensions of special education students.

“We are now in compliance. We were given steps to take in order to correct our issues which were focused on professional training of our administrators and school teams as well as teacher training regarding behavioral needs,” said Bryan. “Though professional training is ongoing, all of the required trainings related to this matter have been completed.”

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Julie Weatherly, attorney from Mobile Resolutions in Special Education, Inc., attended the work session meeting for the Butler County Board of Education on Wednesday to complete her training of administrators and board members. This training, as well as training performed earlier in the day with faculty members, served as the final requirement of the State Department of Education for the Corrective Action Plan.

“My understanding is that the problems that got the district into the corrective action situation have been remedied,” said Weatherly.

After performing self-evaluations caused by the professional training, Bryan found a few procedures that were in need of correcting, such as automatic suspensions for certain infractions and automatic number of days regardless of individual incidents.

“Identifying problems with our procedures and refocusing on the processes necessary to protect students with disabilities only makes us better at disciplining all students,” said Bryan. “It arms us for more serious disciplinary actions if the incident isn’t a manifestation of the student’s disability and protects the student from punishment due to an infraction that he or she may have no control over due to the disability.”

Bryan says that although the number of suspensions was high, the overall disciplinary infractions have decreased countywide over the last three years.