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Special Education/possible ED student- what are my rights as a teacher?

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Question
I am new to being a special education teacher this year. I work in a self contained classroom of Autistic students. I recently received a transfer student from another state who is labeled Developmentally Delayed- but he is 7 and in the state of Va he cannot be labeled that and is going through a full evaluation (which will probably take until July). This student is displaying some really negative aggressive behaviors- anywhere from name calling to verbal refusal for work (at all times of the day) to punching me repeatedly with force (leaving marks) kicking me and my assistants, throwing furniture across the classroom, throwing things at my other students, trying to leave the premises, etc. His behaviors have interrupted my entire classroom, HALTING the education of my other students. His behaviors cause them to be removed from the class on a number of occasions for safety issues. I have tried contacting mother for suggestions, previous school for suggestions, and my BCBA mentor. We have a draft behavior plan in place right now that I am utilizing, but nothing formal yet. This student was suspended last week ( for one day ) for punching me in the stomach 3 times and kicking me and my assistant. Today, he charged after me with intent to hurt and used me as a punching bag, as I am trying to get away from him, he keeps coming after me to punch  me. He then is launching chairs and furniture across the classroom. At this point admin has been called. I have used ALLLLLL strategies suggested by the IEP team to stop him from escalating, but none of them have proved useful. From his behaviors today, NOTHING happened. There was no consequence or suspension for charging after me and hurting me. I have done research on manifestation determination, and I can understand it to an extent, but technically he is labeled DD. As a teacher, am I just supposed to take him hitting me day after day? Do I have no right for my safety? My administration shows no support for me. I didnt know if this was just my county, or am I going to find this anywhere I go? Also, are my other students rights being impacted?

Answer
Katelyn,

There is nothing in the law that says you have to take this abuse. If your principal will not take action, then you should involve your union representative and/or take you challenges to higher authorities such as the school psychologist, the head of special education or the superintendent. I would first document your bruises with pictures. Note: you can't take pictures or videos of the student attacking you. But you can document the damage he is doing to you and the aides in your classroom. The other thing you can do is have the student sent to the principal's office every time he becomes aggressive. Let the office staff handle him for a while.

Be sure to document everything he is doing, and to whom, hour by hour and day by day. Keep a log of his behaviors. If he attacks another student, you should send the other student to the nurse for help. I'm surprised the other parents have not raised a stink about what is going on. Send emails to the principal concerning every day's challenges documenting each time he attacks someone or something.

There is training available to teach you how to control out of control students. It is too late for this now, but it is something you should look into for the future. I know, as a new teacher, you don't want to make waves, but you should not be forced to keep getting beat up by this student. My heart goes out to you!

Good luck,
Tim Runner

Special Education

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Tim Runner

Expertise

Questions concerning special education: IEP, assessments, Due Process, mediation, resolution conference, federal law, state law, qualifying for services, residential treatment, special day classes, resource specialists, procedures, having your child assessed, adaptive PE, speech & language, non-public school, FAPE, and tuition reimbursement.

Experience

I have been an education advocate representing students and parents for six years. My experience includes: representing my clients in IEPs, SSTs, Due Process, review assessment results for my clients, and mediations. I have represented clients with learning disabilities, autism, Downs Syndrome, cognitively challenged, emotional problems, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and physical disabilities. I have also represented clients to County Mental Health Departments and Regional Centers. My clients range from pre-school to college students in many states.

Education/Credentials
I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of California with minors in Psychology and Physics. I also studied applied statistics in psychology at the graduate level. I have taught college classes, conducted seminars, written articles for various publications, and testified as an expert witness.

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