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Articles: Student Conduct

A first of its kind, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act has been introduced to set national standards for the practices of controlling disruptive and potentially dangerous students. The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and in the Senate by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in early December 2009, was in response to two studies revealing hundreds of cases across the nation of the misuse of restraint and seclusion.

On July 8, 2008 I testified at a congressional hearing on school safety and bullying prevention. There I met Sirdeaner L. Walker, the mother of eleven-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover, who had recently died by suicide. Walker described in her testimony the bullying that Carl received at school and that he was repeatedly called gay. She described herself as an involved parent who tried to do everything right, and stated that she had informed school administrators about the bullying her son was subjected to at school.

 

When school administrators hear that the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School attack will arrive on April 20, 2009, most shake their heads in disbelief. They are amazed that 10 years have passed since this watershed event, which changed the landscape of K12 school safety.

 

School Security Plans Skirt Law

All of Georgia's 184 public school districts may have a security plan, but not all districts can say their plan has the approval of the state, according to a recent Associated Press review of state data.

 

At one middle school a student has threatened to kill a classmate. An assistant principal hurriedly checks the situation and concludes that he knows the student who has made the threat and that there is nothing to worry about.

 

In Doninger v. Niehoff, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in May that a Connecticut school district that disciplined a student for vulgar and derogatory remarks made off-campus did not violate her free speech rights.

 

With every new case of school violence, district leaders are urged to be proactive in hopes of averting potential violence. And experts say part of that proactive work comes from a threat assessment plan that every district should have.

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