Making progress to stop punishing disabled kids
Rich La Belle, executive director of the Family Network on Disabilities of Florida, is feeling good about the progress being made in his group's effort to ban the restraint and seclusion of Florida schoolchildren with special needs.
He recently noted in his blog that a special task force of Gov. Charlie Crist's has endorsed the network's call for an immediate moratorium on corporal punishment of children with disabilities. It also signaled its support for HB 81, filed by Rep. Dorothy Hukill to allow physical restraint only when a life is at risk -- not for a teacher's convenience.
La Belle writes:
"There is a cost to preserving the status quo – to not doing anything. Parents whose children have been subjected to this treatment are suing and winning against school districts. There is a price that is being paid. Don’t think that doing nothing and letting this kind of behavior continue is the cheapest way to go. Spend the money wisely – not on lawyers and paying judgments – but on effective training of personnel so that our kids can achieve the best educational outcomes possible. Isn’t this what we all want in the first place?"
He urges supporters to keep writing to Gov. Charlie Crist and Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. They also can join the group's cause on Facebook.
The national movement is growing. The question is whether groups like this one can get action in Florida, too.