Parents Seek Restraining Order to Protect Their Kids from Violent Student

The parents found out about the violence when their daughter came home crying.

The parents found out about the violence when their daughter came home crying.

by Paul Takahashi -

An 8-year-old special-needs boy was transferred from a Clark County School District classroom late this spring after a classmate’s parents filed court papers to seek a restraining order against him.

In May, Robert and Sara Soncini filed a motion in Clark County District Court to place a restraining order on the special-needs boy after he allegedly threatened their 7-year-old daughter in class. Both children were second-graders at Conners Elementary School in the northwest valley.

Over a three-month period, the boy allegedly threatened the girl with scissors and pushed and punched her in the stomach, the Soncini parents said. Other students in the classroom allegedly were hit with a book and a lunchbox, and a teacher was punched and kicked, they added.

The parents found out about the incidents when their daughter came home crying one day, they said.

“She told us she’s scared to be around this boy,” Robert Soncini said. “We’re upset that our child is being assaulted and threatened with sharp objects.”

The boy’s behavior apparently became so disruptive the teacher created a “safe word” to inform students to leave the classroom during the boy’s episodes, the Soncini parents said. These “classroom evacuations” allegedly happened about three times a week, they added.

“The school never contacted me about this,” Sara Soncini said. “None of the parents knew what was going on in the classroom.”

The parents tried working with the school’s leadership, but the officials said their hands were tied because of the boy’s rights under federal law. Exasperated, the parents began the process of seeking a restraining order in an attempt to protect their young daughter.

“I don’t want to have to put a restraining order on this kid, but this is our last resort,” Robert Soncini said. “It’s ridiculous. It shouldn’t have to come to this point.”

Since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) became the law of the land nearly three decades ago, mainstreaming of children with special needs has become a common occurrence.

Mainstreaming is the practice of educating children with special needs in regular classrooms instead of separating them into a special-needs-only classroom.

IDEA mandates that public schools place students with less severe mental and physical disabilities in a regular classroom but provide them with supplemental resources and services. If a child’s Individualized Education Plan calls for a more specialized classroom, that would be a secondary option considered only after mainstreaming failed.

Proponents argue mainstreaming helps students with special needs do better in school and develop better social skills. They say other students also may develop a better understanding and tolerance for children with special needs.

Critics, however, point to cases like the Soncinis’, where a child with special needs disrupts the education of other children. Federal law requires equal opportunity for all children to receive a “free and appropriate” education.

Hence the question at the center of this debate: Does the right of a child to an appropriate education trump the education — and safety — of other children in the classroom?

“Everyone has a right to an education, but what about my daughter’s education?” Robert Soncini said. “I’m all for giving due process, but when you’re threatening other students, that’s unacceptable.”

“How is this learning?” Sara Soncini added. “One kid is affecting 23 other kids.”

Cheryl Jung, a local advocate for children with special needs, argues schools aren’t providing adequate resources and services when placing children with special needs into regular classrooms.

“I’m always worried if schools are providing enough support and services,” Jung said. “They often throw kids in there without any support.”

Schools ought to be providing additional teaching staff trained to help special-needs students, who often exhibit a deficit in social skills and problem solving, Jung said. Schools should also create behavioral plans for each child — a sort of carrot-and-stick incentive method to encourage good behavior, she said.

If a student with autism or other mental challenges doesn’t receive specialized attention and resources, she or he may resort to aggressive behaviors out of frustration, Jung said.

“There’s a shortage in trained teachers and support staff,” she said. “If behavior plans are appropriate and consistently implemented, it’s more likely to have a better outcome.”

Read more at Special-needs student’s classroom outbursts led classmate’s parents to seek restraining order.

[Via - Las Vegas Sun News]

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  1. Angela Faust says:

    I have special needs kids too but good greef if this kid is making the classroom unsafe then he should NOT be allowed in it. We all send our kids to learn and be safe. I love my kids just as much as anyone but if they are putting others at risk you have to do something for eveyones sake including your special needs kid. It’s sad when in order to be political correct we have to put people in danger.

  2. I was mainstreamed. It was horrible.

  3. Elizabeth Mallard says:

    In instances where a child with special needs is in a classroom setting, the child needs adequate supports to ensure that they can learn without being a disruption to other students. Different areas approach this in different ways, but this particular approach of pitting the special needs child and their family against the rest of the community seems to be quite common place. In reality the school should have provided the child with an education aide as a support so that the child could be removed when it was necessary. But, this costs money and schools are already strapped and cutting programs. Much easier to get the child removed from the school by shaming or in this case a lawsuit that will follow an already at-risk child around for the rest of their lives.

    • Mary Phillips says:

      In the CCSD, there is no such thing a one on one educational aide. I’ve been fighting that battle for the last 4 years and my non-ambulatory, non-verbal 7 year old son with Cerebral Palsy has no one but the classroom teacher or the one classroom aide to assist him at all times for all activities during the 6 plus hours he attends school. Now how fair is that? How much do you suppose he is learning everyday with 14 other children all requiring that same amount of help during the day??

  4. No child should feel unsafe in their classroom. Even if you put this child in an all special needs classroom- he would likely behave this way towards those students as well, and those students might not be as equipped to react leading to the fact that the fault lies on the faculty. They should have identified this behaviour from the get-go and intervened accordingly. This one child does not sum up all special needs children. I am all for equal rights, but with equal rights comes equal punishment.

    • Erin, equal rights does not equal punishment. This isn’t about discipline – it’s about prevention and safety for everyone, including this little boy, who lives with autism everyday. Do you really think acting out like this is enjoyable for him? It’s his response to not being able to control sensory overloads. All parties involved are victims, but the blame game is unnecessary. It’s not about bad parenting or being a bad teacher. Having the little boy stay in the classroom is not only unfair to the children on the receiving end of the tantrums, but for the child himself. Trust me, this is not fun and games for him.

  5. My child is prone to outbursts, he can become violent but we know what sets him off and are dealing with it. This school does not have appropriate measures in place and it seems the staff is ill trained. Not surprising. We are still teaching the teachers how to properly handle kids with autism and other “special needs” because they aren’t keeping up with the influx. We are now at 1 in 29 for autism, they better get it together or certainly, all hell is gonna break loose.

  6. Bambi VanWoert says:

    whomever wrote this article is completely mis informed about the Law and the research behind mainstreaming children with special needs

    so either the author is severely uneducated

    or they have a personal agenda they are taking up

  7. The problem is with the SCHOOL, not the boy. They did not handle this situation correctly at all. They hurt him as well as the other kids in the class and that schools practices should be investigated.

  8. As a parent of an Autisic son, I can empathize with both sides. The school it seems has failed both children. Why weren’t the parents notified of the situation? The boy is lashing out because he isn’t being taken care of properly. The girl and the others also are not being taken care of. I worked in a special classroom and have had to help a child to calm down and make sure the other students were not harmed. My son in a class a year ago was involved with another student vying for attention from the teacher. They bit another and the teacher. I was there everyday and had to keep asking what was going on, the teacher never moved my son or the other student from the same table. I blame her for not listening to me. I transferred my son to a different school last year, he was respected,he respected his class mates and the bad behavior on his IEP was removed. More people need to listen, comprehend and fix the issue before it gets out of hand. All children need a peaceful environment to learn. We as parents need to work with our schools and government to fix these issues before they have to go to court. Prayers for these families.

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