Education is one of the core foundations for the development of any society. The educational initiatives in the United States including No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disability Act aim at ensuring the inclusion of all students in the accessing education. The educational policies and acts that govern students with disability bear potential legal issues on all stakeholders (Osborne & Russo, 2014). This paper discusses some of the legal matters in education that the courts are expected to face in the future. The relevance of the legal issues and their essence in the education profession will also be outlined.
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Educational initiatives dealing with disability
Various efforts have been established in the United States to ensure equal education opportunities for all the children including those with disability (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, & Shogren, 2013). The NCLB seeks to determine how the students perform their tests and undertake learning, how money is allocated to the education sector, and the levels of training of the teachers. This initiative has been facing a raging debate between the Democrats and the Republicans concerning its efficiency in the improvement of educational outcomes (Bryant, Bryant, & Smith, 2016). The Individuals with Disability act is a formulated federal law that seeks to serve the educational requirements for students with disabilities.
To ensure special education services have been delivered appropriately, it is mandatory to follow the outlined legal procedures (Turnbull et al., 2013). The United States’ special education laws ensure the protection of the rights of children with disabilities together with their parents. The education initiatives seek to provide free and appropriate public education to the children with disabilities. Additionally, the parents have a voice in the decision-making process concerning their children (Osborne & Russo, 2014). However, the present and future educational initiatives of students with disabilities have potential legal impacts on the court systems.
The measures on school safety
School safety is a major concern for local school districts in the United States. All schools must provide assurance through documented plans of how to uphold the safety of all the students including those with physical disabilities (Bagenstos, 2014). These initiatives have to ensure the improvement and advancement of the emergency response after an eruption of crises in schools. The initiation of the National Schools’ Safety Center is to free learning institutions from the burdens of combating crises, thus ensuring maximum concentration on education-related issues (Osborne & Russo, 2014). Schools are mandated to provide a safe environment that is free from hostility, drugs, and panic by initiating policies that encourage a safe and disciplined learning atmosphere.
Several future legal implications can emerge from the educational initiatives that focus on the students’ safety. The majority of the measures to respond to threats are not considerate of students with disabilities. In most situations, disabled students are left out when planning on how to respond to threats (Emens, 2012). The courts may require the formulation of new educational policies that deal with handling potential disasters. Special measures that focus specifically on students with special needs are crucial. Rioting, bomb explosions, rape, and hostage-taking among other threats leave disabled students in a disadvantaged position as opposed to their abled counterparts (Turnbull et al., 2013). Appropriate facilities and measures ought to be incorporated in the safety initiatives to avoid impartiality.
Bullying in schools
All the school personnel including officials and teachers must focus on eliminating all instances of violence. Teachers must focus on the behavior of the students especially during the extracurricular activities and note all the instances of bullying (Osborne & Russo, 2014). No student should be given the chance to threaten, harass, or make prejudiced comments about others. The educational initiatives should address irritation, mood swings, and violent behaviors that amount to the lack of learning enthusiasm by the pupils (Bagenstos, 2014). Bullying is common in most schools in the United States, thus resulting in serious injuries to the victims and hostility in the school environment.
Bullying in schools has legal implications for the court system in the United States and especially the cases that involve students with disability. The negligence by the school administration to develop standards of care has resulted in increasing cases of bullying. The courts could strengthen educational initiatives that address bullying by passing charges against the bullies (Bagenstos, 2014). The offences should include threatening behaviors, indecent assaults for bullies involved in sexual abuse, and criminal offence of assault for defendants involved in causing physical injuries.
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The legal systems may also initiate charges against the school officials for negligence that amounts to physical and psychological damages caused to victims of violence and especially where similar cases of bullying have previously occurred (Emens, 2012). The future legal systems can demand the school officials to compensate for damages caused by bullies to students with disabilities.
Freedom of expression in schools
Most educational initiatives and policies in the United States acknowledge the constitutional rights in all sectors including school. The American Civil Liberties Union mandates the students to express their opinions and views if their actions do not materially distract learning and other school activities (Osborne & Russo, 2014). Despite the efforts of ensuring the freedom of expression, most students with disabilities lack the requisite platforms to air their opinions. The freedom of speech does not exceed the limits of using a language that sounds biased and indecent. Students must have representation in the school decision-making committees and improvement teams (Bryant et al., 2016). Equality among all students including those with special needs should be incorporated into all the education initiatives and reforms.
The freedom of speech is accompanied by given constitutional implications to the court system. Defamation among the students is common in most schools. The false statements made by individuals concerning others and specifically towards the students with disabilities amounts to stigmatization (Bagenstos, 2014). The perpetrators often ruin the reputation of the victims through hatred and ridicule. Students with special needs have the right to enjoy the freedom from discriminatory and malicious statements of their fellow pupils in school. The court systems may also redefine the qualified privilege of the school personnel (Emens, 2012). Teachers and parents who are found guilty of making harmful statements that do not reflect the truth about students with disabilities will be liable to pay for damages.
Gang activities in schools
The challenge of gang groups in learning institutions has been a major problem in the United States. Most educational initiatives that have been designed do not address this issue adequately (Osborne & Russo, 2014). Gangs dominate and control given territories in schools and they are often engaged in trafficking of drugs and weapons and other violent activities that instill fear and anxiety in the students. Due to the delicate conditions of students with special needs, they are highly likely to suffer from gang harassment (Bryant et al., 2016).
Gang activities have some attributed legal implications in the future. The school administration has the duty of care to all students. The school staff members have the obligation to foresee the ill motives of gang activities, and thus secure the students (Emens, 2012). Instances of negligence emanating from failure to exercise reasonable profession care by the school personnel would demand compensation for violence victims. Special legal actions may also be instituted by the gang groups that harass the students with special needs (Turnbull et al., 2013).
Mental distress in schools
Mental distress is one of the key challenges that students with disabilities face in their education process. The existing initiatives have done little to address this issue because mental anguish bears no elements of physical injury (Osborne & Russo, 2014). Psychological distress among the students is a pressing issue due to its affiliation to the performance of the learners. Psychological distress contributes adverse effects on the students’ self-esteem thus contradicting the role of the school in improving the worth of the pupils.
The court systems ought to establish measures to charge the teachers whose conduct causes emotional distress to the students. The use of unorthodox means of punishing students with the aim of embarrassing and humiliating them should be answerable in the court of law (Emens, 2012). Teachers liable for ridiculing students with disabilities ought to pay higher penalties because emotional distress is more detrimental as compared to physical harm.
Education policies and initiatives must focus the inclusion of all students without discrimination. Potential legal issues arise especially when dealing with federal acts that focus on the education of pupils with disability. Some of the issues concerning the students with disabilities that bear potential legal implications include bullying, safety measures, freedom of expression, and emotional distress. Various actions by the school personnel, fellow students, or parents are detrimental to the rights and freedoms of the students with disabilities. Different legal actions can be instituted in the future to ensure justice and equality for all students in public schools in the United States.
Bagenstos, S. R. (2014). Law and the contradictions of the disability rights movement. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., & Smith, D. D. (2016). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. Upper Saddle River, CA: SAGE Publications.
Emens, E. F. (2012). Disabling Attitudes: US Disability Law and the ADA Amendments Act. American Journal of Comparative Law, 60(1), 205-08.
Osborne A. G., & Russo, C. J. (2014). Special education and the law: A guide for practitioners. Newbury, CA: Corwin Press.
Turnbull, A., Turnbull, H. R., Wehmeyer, M. L., & Shogren, K. A. (2013). Exceptional lives: Special education in today’s schools. Columbus, OH: Pearson.