All students deserve equal treatment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2000

Staff Editorial

August 9, 2000 10 p.m.

U. S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, wants the federal government to pull the plug on interference in classroom discipline problems, even when the problems related to students with disabilities.

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The move is a bold one that isn’t likely to win Sessions any friends among the liberal elite, but we think he’s right on target.

The Associated Press reported that Sessions says he has received numerous complaints from teachers throughout the state who say their ability to maintain order in the classroom is being hampered by a federal law.

The bill is an amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Under current law, disabled students who are unruly can’t be expelled without a court order, and even lesser disciplinary steps require consultations with lawyers and parents.

Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone had to file a court suit last year to remove a 15-year-old youth who was accused of threatening to kill his classmates, attacking his mother, and punching a school bus driver while trying to take control of the bus.

The law applies to children with many varieties of disabilities including learning disorders.

While we cannot and will not condone discrimination against anyone for any reason, we do think fair and equitable laws should apply to all people. It is preposterous to think that because someone has a learning disorder, or is hard of hearing, that the person would be afforded a different set of laws by which to live in society than others. Laws against theft, murder, or even speeding would apply.

Likewise, the rules of behavior in schools should apply. And if a person is found in the assessment of a teacher and the school’s principal to be disruptive, appropriate action should be taken, regardless of the person’s disabilities.

Failure to do so interferes with the ability of others to learn what they need to know to be successful. And the price paid by the whole should be considered far more seriously than the price paid by an individual.

Sessions is absolutely right by seeking to pass a law that would make all students accountable, no matter what condition from which they may suffer.

We simply cannot succeed by putting the importance of the individual above the importance of the whole.

Currently, Sessions’ bill is on hold in the Senate after it failed to win support.

We hope that changes soon and becomes law. This bill is a good one that puts discipline in schools back in the hands of the community and the local administrators.  

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