Sept 20, 2018, KGW8, Portland, OR: A special needs student assaults a teacher. Could anyone have prevented it? https://www.kgw.com/article/news/investigations/a-special-needs-student-assaults-a-teacher-could-anyone-have-prevented-it/283-596614538?ref=exit-recirc A Beaverton teenager with disabilities is in jail for seriously injuring his teacher. An investigation found the teacher was unaware of key details about the teen's condition before the attack. When a school resource officer arrived at the assault scene at Beaverton High School on Jan. 11, he found a jumble of tables and chairs flipped over and tossed about in a special education classroom. Staff attended to a 60-year-old teacher near the front of the room. A tall, 18-year-old student sat in the back…. A grand jury indicted Nelson on felony assault charges. To avoid a jury trial and potential six-year prison stay, Nelson took a plea deal and is currently serving a nine-month sentence at the Washington County Jail. The singular incident sheds light on troubling trends taking place at schools nationwide. Teachers report being assaulted by students at high rates, while special needs students are far more likely to be incarcerated than their peers. Instead of boosting funding for special education programs, school districts often have fewer staff members year after year. Teacher advocates say many public schools don’t provide proper training for teachers, especially those working with kids who have disabilities. Nelson, who has autism, anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, says he flipped over furniture and then separated himself from people by moving across the classroom, as he was taught to do when he gets overwhelmed. … Interviews and documents show Nelson has a history of violent outbursts, but Brown was unaware of key details about her student’s file and diagnosis. The assault at Beaverton High School ended in tragedy for both Brown and Nelson. Could anything have prevented the attack?... “He has a history of hitting, strangling, throwing things, and running away,” a teacher wrote after he fought with another student in the 4th grade. “Afterwards he is very sorry for what he has done, he knows what is right and wrong, but he can’t control himself when his anger flares – and it can be triggered without warning.” Special education students in schools are twice as likely to be suspended, expelled and arrested than their peers. It’s a troubling trend the National Council on Disability calls the “school-to-prison pipeline for students with disabilities.” The federal agency says school districts can address the problem by developing early warning systems to identify special needs students at risk of discipline and incarceration. Beaverton School District, which has about 5,000 special education students out of 41,000 students total, would not release statistics on disciplinary action for special education students, as their records are confidential. Teachers are also at risk of violence at the hands of their students. A 2016 national study found that 6 percent of U.S. public school teachers reported being physically attacked by a student in the past year. More teachers may not be reporting assaults. An anonymous survey conducted by the Oregon School Employees Association asked nearly 2,000 teachers and school staff members from 106 Oregon districts whether they had been assaulted at school. Sixty percent said they had, and more than 50 percent said they felt their school was not adequately staffed to protect students and teachers from workplace assaults. There is little data on special education students attacking teachers, but OSEA says they often hear from teachers who were assaulted by students with disabilities. “They don’t want to do anything because by reporting these injuries, they could get that child in trouble,” said Michael Plett, spokesman for OSEA. Between 2006 and 2014, the number of special needs students in Oregon increased by 6 percent. In that same time, the number of special education teachers dropped by 5 percent. “Schools need to invest in staffing to prevent attacks,” Plett said.
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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