Elementary School Student Who Has Attacked Teachers, Staff Members Remains In Class Despite Parent Complaints
At a Granada Hills elementary school, this is the question that parents and staff members are asking after a student who has physically attacked at least three staff members, fracturing the arm of one, has been allowed to remain in class despite the complaints of anxious parents.
But LAUSD policies leave little alternative, and the child, who according to parent witnesses exhibits extreme behavioral issues on a daily basis, has caused disruptions, anxiety, and injuries to staff and others since the school year began in August.
"I feel worried for my child's safety," said one parent at the school who has a child in the same classroom. "I have a real bug in my stomach. You never know what sort of thing this child could get from home and bring to school."
Officals at the school and Los Angeles Unified School District would not comment, citing the student's rights of privacy.
The child in question, according to sources close to the matter, has so far caused injury to one teacher significant enough to require medical leave, and has also physically attacked more than one staff member. The teacher, who suffered a sprained neck in an altercation with the student in September, went on medical leave until late November, leaving the class with a long-term substitute. An aide who suffered a fractured arm while attempting to subdue the student is currently on leave.
The child, who is in third grade, was moved to a general education classroom for gifted students after winter break. The student has two aides assigned to handle his outbursts, but sources say that neither the aides, the original teacher, the long-term substitute, nor his current teacher in the gifted classroom have any special training in handling a child with severe behavioral issues.
The child has not yet caused serious injury to another student, but, says a witness who requested anonymity, "It's just a matter of time."
Teachers and staff members aren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly, but parents at the school have expressed frustration and anxiety over the situation in which a child with severe behavioral issues has remained in what they feel is an inadequately equipped classroom.
Sources report that the child in question has what's known as an IEP, or Individual Education Plan. An IEP is designed to determine the appropriate placement and services needed for a student with a disability. However, parental consent is required to actually implement the education plan -- consent which in this particular case has not been given.
Because LAUSD can neither deny a child education nor force a parent to accept special education placement for their child, without parental cooperation, the school has no option but to place the child in a regular classroom. And because the child has an IEP which outlines his behavioral problems, he cannot be expelled for exhibiting the behaviors which would get a child without an IEP expelled.
"That IEP," according to one district employee, "is like giving (the student) the keys to the castle."
One parent witness, who also requested not to be named, said she saw the child kicking and hitting the school principal as he attempted to close a door. The principal's only response was a verbal reprimand of "Don't do that, that's not right." Another parent reports that her child saw the disabled student punching another child in the stomach.
Says a frustrated parent, "Imagine how we feel, leaving our children here in this unhealthy environment. Imagine being a teacher with a classroom full of children ready to learn, only to have this child run in and out of the class, disrupting it whenever he pleases, because 'he has the right to an education.'" What about the other kids? Don't they have a right to an education? Their right is being compromised, their safety is being compromised, and so is the safety of the teachers."