Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Boy pushes disabled girl out of a moving school bus, and his punishment is....?

While I admit that all I have to go from on this story is what a local news outlet wrote about it, I have spent enough years as an educator to get the gist of what was going on in this incident, and whatever the finer details of what happened, I was astonished by the very last line of this article.

From New York City comes the story of a disabled 13 year-old girl who was being bullied on a bus.  After being spit upon and having books thrown at her by one male student, she was told by a "matron" (whatever the hell that is) to move away from her tormentor to the back of the bus.  When the girl got to the back of the bus, another bully pushed the girl out the back of the bus, even though the bus was in motion.

The bullied girl suffered a broken collar bone from her fall.

And now to the coup de grace.  The very last line of the article said, "Officials said the boy who pushed her is being disciplined and may be placed on another bus route."

There is so much that is said and unsaid in that simple little sentence.

What about the first boy, whose taunts and torment necessitated the girl's move toward the back of the bus in the first place?  Will he be disciplined?

Why didn't the matron do more to intervene besides telling the victim to move?  Or did she?  The article is a bit short on details.

And most of all, why will the boy who actually pushed the girl out of the bus and broke her collarbone be placed on another bus route?  Would his actions not justify kicking him off the bus for the rest of the year? 

Would the pusher's actions not justify expelling him from the school, let alone the bus route?

If this is a school for the disabled, what kind of disabilities are we talking here?  Physical, emotional, or both?

If the pusher's disability is emotional and that is what is keeping him from being expelled, then I have always thought that it is a travesty that emotionally disturbed students cannot be expelled for their actions.  I see this at my school, where we have general population-type students, but we also have special education (SPED) students both in regular classrooms (RSP) and in self-contained classrooms (SDC).  If an RSP or SDC student exhibits chronically disruptive or violent behavior, that student must have a "manifestation" meeting where big-wigs from the district office confer and decide whether or not the student's behavior is a result of the student's disability, whether it be physical or emotional.  If the manifestation meeting determines that the student is acting that way because of his/her (usually his) disability, then that student cannot be suspended any more, let alone expelled.  The student is free to run roughshod over his fellow teachers and students without the fear of any consequences.  One of my administrators has a name for this select group of students.  He calls them "Untouchables."

Whether or not the pusher in this news story turns out to be an Untouchable, I don't know.  But an educational and legal system that allows this scenario to exist is a broken one indeed.  And people wonder why our educational system has gone to hell in a handbasket.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

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