In response to a school’s reliance on repeated suspensions for discipline, training is mandated for teachers to identify special needs in order that students may get the resources they need, and not be excluded from school.

In Columbus Ohio, the entire teaching and administrative staff at a middle school has been ordered to complete training in identification of the warning signs for behavioral disabilities.

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Last year, a sixth grader was suspended for 70 days for disruptive behavior. Federal law requires that the Medina Middle School student should have been evaluated for special education services. According to the state investigation, the student’s actions had included “leaving class without permission, roaming the halls, using profanity, threatening other students, kicking and slapping other students, failure to follow teacher directions and school rules, destruction of property and inappropriate comments and actions.”

The student was in sixth grade for two years, received F’s in all subjects all year long and had a 0.0 grade point average.

“Never once was there a referral for a meeting to determine ‘Does this kid need intervention?’ ” said Ellen Wristen, an attorney specializing in special-education law who helped file the complaint.

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