Gorton amendment killed, modified Jeffords accepted

This article is excerpted from ENVOY, October 1994.

by Mark Stroh

Special education advocates were relieved when House conferees working on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act refused to recede to the Senate, killing an amendment by Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) that threatened the rights of students with disabilities.

The Gorton amendment would have given school administrators the authority to circumvent the “stay put” provision in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) if students brought weapons to school or exhibited “life-threatening behavior.”  The “stay-put” provision requires a due process hearing before removing a child from an approved educational program.  

Although the conferees approved a similar but much less offensive amendment, they tightened the definition of weapon to include only guns and firearms, eliminated all references to life-threatening behavior and reduced the maximum suspension from 90 to 45 days.

Special education advocates objected to the amendment’s definition of life-threatening behavior because it included behaviors that are a manifestation of a severe disability, such as autism.

In their report, the conferees called for wide dissemination of the Department of Education’s current policy regarding special education students who bring weapons to school.


ENVOY Credits

ENVOY Editor:  Nicole Elger
ENVOY Staff Contributors:  Elizabeth Ambrose, Marie Jensen, Sandy Macdonald, Betty Schwieterman , Mark Stroh, Thomaszine Weathersby
ENVOY Volunteer Contributors:   Lisa Gallagher
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