April 24, 2017, Bakersfield (CA) Community Voices: (OP ED) Hazards of mainstreaming special needs students http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/community-voices-hazards-of-mainstreaming-special-needs-students/article_0a7ff54b-84a8-53c2-a784-a57924ff7f1b.html The mainstreaming of special needs students in our schools is causing serious safety concerns. Swelling numbers of students with emotional and psychological issues are resulting in an increase in violence. The recent Florida arrest of an autistic 11-year-old for having allegedly assaulted his teacher is just one example. I have a first-hand understanding of several similar local cases where special needs students assaulted teachers. As I recently told a local school superintendent and one of his principals, all students deserve an education. And all students deserve a safe educational experience — including special needs students. ... In my conversations with dozens of local teachers, I have discovered that these teachers have been kicked, punched, stabbed, suffered wrist sprains and limb bruises, some so bad that ice bags were deployed for swelling. Since many principals want to portray their campuses as “safe schools,” official reports are not always drawn up. The discipline being meted out is often to keep students out of class for a time, or sent home for a day. … Teachers are not special education experts, yet they must deal with what only experts could expect. What have schools come to that they are havens for drug babies, drugged students, bipolar teens, the ADHD accommodated, autistic, and low achievers who may also be emotionally and psychologically disabled? How could anyone expect such an environment to be suitable for rigorous learning? There is no fairness to those students to place them in environments where they cannot learn and are possibly set off by their surroundings. ... Violence should neither be tolerated nor overlooked just because it stems from smaller bodies or takes place in lower grades.