Two recent stories from NPR and the Christian Science Monitor discuss a lawsuit filed against the Compton Unified School District seeking to address the impact of trauma on learning.
From “Are Traumatized Students Disabled? A Debate Straight Outta Compton” by Cory Turner:
“An unprecedented, class action lawsuit brought against one Southern California school district and its top officials could have a big impact on schools across the country…Susan Ko of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress says exposure to violence can have a profound effect on the brain’s ability to learn.
“That impacts concentration, the ability to just listen to what the teacher is saying, to understand what you’re reading, to remember something that you learned or what the teacher just said,” Ko says.
Not only that, many traumatized students live in a state of constant alarm. Innocent interactions like a bump in the hallway or a request from a teacher can stir anger and bad behavior.
The lawsuit alleges that, in Compton, the schools’ reaction to traumatized students was too often punishment — not help…
The suit argues that trauma is a disability and that schools are required — by federal law — to make accommodations for traumatized students, not expel them. The plaintiffs want Compton Unified to provide teacher training, mental health support for students and to use conflict-mediation before resorting to suspension.
“That’s a very strong mandate, and it needs to be funded,” says the district’s attorney, David Huff. He argues the suit uses too broad a definition of disability and sends the wrong message to kids living in other struggling neighborhoods.”
Click here to read the full article and listen to the NPR broadcast.
From “First-in-nation lawsuit in California: Must schools address student trauma?” by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo:
“Researchers have found that childhood trauma – such as abuse or witnessing violence – can interfere with development and interrupt children’s ability to focus on learning. But if students get appropriate help, the negative effects often can be overcome.
At a time when many school districts across America are attempting to take the emotional needs of their students into account and craft discipline policies that touch on the root causes of troubling behavior, the case raises two key questions: To what degree should schools be expected to address the effects of childhood trauma? And, is a lawsuit that frames such effects as a disability – as this suit does – the best way to ensure that schools do better by these students?”
Click here to read the full article.