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Do public schools have an obligation to serve troubled children and youth?

Do Public Schools Have an Obligation to Serve Troubled Children And Youth?

The responsibility of America's schools for providing special services to socially maladjusted pupils has been debated for many years. Much of this debate has focused on the exclusion of youths considered to be socially maladjusted, antisocial, or conduct disordered from services available to those classified as seriously emotionally disturbed (SED). Public Law (P.L.) 94-142 and its recent amendments (P.L. 99-457) specifically excluded "children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they are seriously emotionally disturbed "(U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1977, p. 42478). However, research, scholarly opinion, and professional practices consistently have indicated that this exclusionary clause is ill founded (Kauffman, 1989). The purpose of this article is to explore problems and issues associated with the exclusion of youth identified as socially maladjusted (SM) from special education programs in the public schools (see Nelson & Rutherford, 1990, for a more extensive discussion).

Although the Eleventh Annual Report to Congress on the Education of the Handicapped Act (U.S. Department of Education, 1989) indicated that 9.1% of handicapped students being served in special education programs are SED, this population continues to be significantly underserved. Federal prevalence estimates of SED pupils have ranged between 1.2% and 2.0% of the school population, but 3%-6% is regarded as a more accurate estimate by authorities (Institute of Medicine, 1989). However, less than 1% of public school students have been identified and served in SED programs (Knitzer, Steinberg, & Fleisch, 1990). Aside from the severe shortage of qualified teachers for these pupils, the basis for this serious lack of services appears to be a chain of interrelated circumstances. First, schools are antagonized by an often resist providing services for students whose social behavior deviates considerably from expected norms, especially when their behavior patterns include acts of defiance, aggression or extreme disruption of the school environment. Second, the exclusionary clause in P.L. 94-142 provides a rationale for excluding students from special education whose behavior is aversive, unless they also have other identifiable disabilities. As Bower (1982) observed, part of the motivation behind the SM exclusion may have been to minimize the costs of serving the SED population. Third, the Honig v. Doe (1988) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court established that pupils with disabilities may not be suspended for over 10 days or expelled for actions that are related to their disabilities. Furthermore, the burden of proof is on the school district to demonstrate that the student's behavior pattern is not related to his or her disability when such disciplinary actions are considered (Center & McKittrick, 1987; Yell, 1989). However, if the school district does not identify the pupil as having a disability, then suspension and explusion are viable disciplinary options. Thus, given their reluctance to deal positvely with social behavior problems considered aversive to others and the court-imposed restriction on their disciplinary options, it may appear in the schools' best interests not to identify and serve students with antisocial, acting-out behavior patterns.

We contend that this exclusionary clause has the effect of denying needed educational and related services to a group of pupils who are seriously disabled by their behavior. Although there is some evidence that antisocial pupils are more often recipients of special education services than other students (Walker, Shinn, O'Neill, & Ramsey, 1987), these actions are reactive (i.e., a response to behavior patterns that have been manifest for some time and are repugnant to school personnel) rather than proactive (i.e., services aimed at preventing the development of extremely deviant behavior patterns). We will support our position through an analysis of (a) definitions of SED and SM populations, (b) the characteristics of persons exhibiting antisocial behavior, (c) identification practices, and (d) the politics of public education.

DEFINITIONS

Seriously Emotionally Disturbed

P.L. 94-142 defines SED as:

(i) A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects educational performance; a. An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; b. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; c. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; d. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or e. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

(ii) The term includes children who are schizophrenic or autistic. The term does not include children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they are seriously emotionally disturbed (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, 1977, p. 42478). The federal definition was revised to exclude autistic children. Autism was included in the category "Other Health Impaired" because of lobbying efforts by the National Society for Autistic Citizens.

THis federal SED definition has come under widespread attack from the professional community, including criticisms from the author of the original definition that was adopted, with relatively few changes, by the federal government (Bower, 1982). As Bower indicated, section (ii) appears to have been added to his original definition as "a codicil to reassure traditional psychopathologist and budget personnel that schizophrenia and autism are indeed serious emotional disturbances on the one hand, and that just plain bad boys and girls, predelinquents, and sociopaths will not skyrocket the costs on the other hand" (p.56). Whereas proponents of efforts to separate a population of students whose behavior has a purely emotional basis from those with other disorders (e.g., Clarizio, 1987; Kelly, 1986; Slenkovitch, 1983) have favored an exclusionary definition of SED, others (e.g., Center, 1989a, 1989b; Kauffman, 1989) have pointed out that research has failed to show that disorders having a purely emotional basis can be discriminated from other types of disabilities with behavioral manifestations. Center (1989a, 1989b) argued that the SED label and definition were intended to be inclusive of a wide range of disorders spanning affective, cognitive, functional, and social domains. He noted a logical fallacy inherent in excluding pupils who have problems in the social domain (especially antisocial children and youth) from the larger SED population because "an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships" is a defining characteristic. Further, such children often have extreme interpersonal problems of a very long duration. Longitudinal research (Kazdin, 1987; Robins, 1966, 1979) has indicated that children with serious antisocial behavior face a greater risk for adult mental problems than any other nonpsychotic population.

Socially Maladjusted

It is noteworthy that over two-thirds of the states fail to mention the exclusion of SM in their state definitions of emotional disturbance or behavioral disorders (Mack, 1985). One factor that may be responsible for the absence of SM exclusionary clauses in state definitions is the lack of a generally accepted definition of social maladjustment. No such definition appears in P.L. 94-142, its amendments, or in the implementing regulations. The term appears to be based on the belief that certain youths are socialized in a deviant cultural group; that is, their behavior and attitudes are shaped by a social context that encourages them to act in ways that violate the standards and mores of the mainstream culture. However, it is assumed that these individuals are not SED because their bahavior is in accordance with the norms of their immediate reference group. The behavior patterns considered "normative" of this deviant culture have been termed "delinquent" or "antisocial" by educators, sociologists, psychologist, and criminologist.

Delinquency is a legal term applied by the criminal justice system to indicate that a youth has been adjudicated by the courts and found guilty of criminal behavior or a "status offense" (defined as behavior judged to be deviant in a minor, such as alcohol consumption, which would not be illegal if performed by an adult). On the other hand, delinquent behavior is a term used to describe any illegal act, regardless of whether the perpetrator is apprehended, performed by a person under the age of majority (i.e., 18 in most states). The term antisocial behavior is less restrictive than delinquency, because it includes behaviors that are norm violating but not necessarily delinquent. Simcha-Fagan, Langner, Gersten, and Eisenberg (1975; cited in Walker et al., 1987, p.7) define antisocial behavior as "the recurrent violation of socially prescribed patterns of action." Conduct disorder is another term used to describe students who exhibit antisocial behavior, referring to overt, aggressive, disruptive behavior or covert antisocial acts (Kauffman, 1989). Youths who behave in accordance with the norms of a delinquent peer group appear to be the target of the exclusionary clause in the federal definition of SED (Center, 1989a, 1989b; Cline, 1990). This group has been labeled as socialized-subcultural delinquents (Achenbach, 1982; Quay, 1975), and they are characterized as participating in peer-oriented, group delinquent activities, defying adult authority, and having a delinquent value orientation (Quay).

If the exclusionary clause of the federal SED definition was directed at subcultural delinquents, a major issue in defining behavior representative of SM, but not of SED, is whether the norms of the individual's immediate reference group are deviant relative to the mainstream culture. Criteria that may be used to identity SM youth include the standards and values of the peer group, as well as whether the individual is a member of an identifiable, deviant social group, such as a delinquent gang. However, Kerr, Nelson, and Lambert (1987) emphasized that even if the behavior of SM youth conforms to the standards of their deviant reference group, it is difficult to see how they can be logically separated from the population of SED students because their behavior does violate the norms of the larger social order and is not considered normative or tolerable by the schools. Moreover, a number of factors may be associated with an increased probability that a youth will engage in antisocial or delinquent behavior, including: (a) problems in school; (b) low verbal intelligence; (c) parents who are alcoholic or who have frequent arrests; (d) family reliance on welfare, or poor management of income; (e) homes that are broken, crowded, or chaotic; (f) erratic parental supervision and inadequate discipline; (g) parental and sibling indifference of hostility toward the youth; and (h) substance abuse (Kauffman, 1989). These factors also are strongly associated with SED.

Although the most objective method of defining delinquency and identifying delinquent individuals is in terms of "official" delinquency (commission of more serious crimes that result in arrest or adjudication; Kauffman, 1989), this is a very restrictive definition that fails to identify many youths whose antisocial behavior does not result in arrest. Furthermore, many youths classified as SED for educational purposes engage in delinquent behavior that leads to arrest or incarceration (Knitzer et al., 1990), and nearly 60% of the incarcerated population with disabilities are classified as SED (U.S. Department of Education, 1989). Thus, if separate SED and SM population exist, they are extremely difficult to discriminate from one another.

CHARACTERISTICS OF ANTISOCIAL

BEHAVIOR

Research has established two basic dimensions of disordered behavior: externelizing (overt acting-out behaviors) and internalizing (withdrawn, anxious behaviors) (Walker & Fabre, 1987). Most of the students identified as SED in the public schools are characterized as externalizing. By definition, antisocial behavior involves acting-out behavior patterns. Therefore, it is understandable that researchers studying antisocial youth find considerable overlap between SM and SED populations. walker and his colleagues have conducted a series of longitudinal investigations of the development of antisocial among middle school boys in school settings (Shinn, Ramsey, Walker, Stieber, & O'Neill, 1987; Walker et al., 1987; Walker, Stieber, & O'Neill, 1990). Pupils in their antisocial cohort exhibited significantly less academic engaged time in instructional settings, initiated ans were involved in significantly more negative interactions with peers, were rated by their teachers as substantially less socially competent and adjusted, and had much greater exposure to special education services or placements than students in an at-risk control group. Differences between antisocial youth and control subjects remained consistent across grades 5,6 and 7. The characteristics of antisocial youth derived from the research literature closely match those of pupils at risk for placement in SED programs--that is, academic deficiencies reflected in low measured achiements, poor grades, and basic skill deficits; little interest in school; careless work; lack of enthusiasm toward academic pursuits; truancy; fighting; theft; temper tantrums; destroying property; and defying or threatening others (Walker et al., 1987.

These behavior patterns bode ill for future adjustment. Walker et al. 71987) have predicted that the continuation of antisocial behavior in school will lead to increased risk of school failure, membership in deviant peer groups, school dropout, and eventual delinquency. Robins' (1966) classic follow-up study of deviant children bears out this prediction. She found that juvenile antisocial behavior was the single most powerful predictor of adult psychiatric status. the extremely high prevalence rates of learning disabilities among incarcerated juvenile offenders (Morgan, 1979; Murphy, 1986; Rutherford, Nelson, & Wolford, 1985) adds further support to the contention that school failure and social acting out are common denominators in the profiles of delinquent youth. Wolf, Braukmann, and Ramp (1987) provided convincing evidence that antisocial behavior, especially when persistent and serious, is a profoundly limiting social disability to those who exhibit it. Furthermore, they argue that long-term supportive environment are a necessary component of treatment for individuals with these behavior patterns.

Research investigating the characteristics and long-term consequences of antisocial behavior thus supports the conclusions that SM is an identifiable disability. furthermore, antisocial behavior appears to be a frequent characteristic of pupils identified as SED. For example, Wagner (1989) found that nearly 50% of students who had been identified as SED were arrested within 2 years of leaving school. The following discussion explores the question of whether SM and SED pupils can or should be separated for educational purposes.

IDENTIFICATION PRACTICES

Although a number of states are developing standardized, objective procedures and instruments for identifying SED pupils, the final determination regarding whether a pupil is or is not SED, according to the federal definition, rests upon subjective judgment regarding each of the five P.L. 94-142 characteristics, as well as an interpretation as to what constitutes to a marked degree and over a long period of time (Kauffman, 1989). Likewise, the identification of youths as antisocial is impeded by the lack of objective criteria for defining this condition (Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, 1990). As we pointed out earlier, because delinquency is defined by actions of the criminal justice system, te tendency exists to use adjudication as a criterion for defining youth considered to eb SM. However, even a cursory knowledge of the juvenile justice system will inform ont that the identification of individuals as delinquent is neither standardized nor objective. In addition, delinquents constitute a heterogenous population, with at least three recognized subtypes: socialized-subcultural, unsocialized-psychopathic, and neurotic-disturbed (Achenbac, 1982).

Furthermore, far more c hildren engage in antisocial and delinquent behavior than are adjudicated and identified; and even if adjudication were an accurate measure of delinquency, it has no relevance for educational programming.

Attempts to discriminate between SED and SM population have relied on two sets of procedures: DSM III (American Psychiatric Association, 1980), and child behavior rating scales. (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (American Psychiatric Association, 1976) has undergone two subsequent revisions: DSM III (1980) and DSM III-R (1987). DS, III constituted a major revision, whereas the majority of changes in DSM III-R involve relatively minor adjustments in terminology.) DSM III-R is a diagnostic and classification system based on a medical model of mental disorders. This was neither designed nor intended for making educational decisions (Center, 1989). Nevertheless, several states and many local education agencies rely on DSM III-R in making SED diagnoses. An attorney has made a career of interpreting the SED definition in terms of diagnostic categories contained in the Diagnostic and STatistical Manual. The exclusiveness of her perception of SED is apparent in the following quotation:

Students may not be placed in special education by virtue of being socially maladjusted, may not be found to be seriously emotionally disturbed because they are antisocial, may not be found to be seriously emotionally distrubed because they have conduct disorders. The law does not allow it. social maladjustment is not an EHA serious emotional disturbance. (Slenkovitch, 1984, p.293)

Slenkovitch further asserts that the DSM III diagnostic categories of Conduct Disorder, Antisocial Personalitu Disorder, and Oppositional Disorder are excluded from the SED definition. According to Slenkovitch, students given one of these diagnoses are not eligible for special education unless they also have been assigned another diagnosis that does qualify them. Through her workshops, Slenkovitch has influenced many school districts and several state education agencies to declare students ineligible for special education services if they do not meet her rigid definition of SED.

Several behavior rating scales have been used to identify both SED and SM pupils. The Behavior Problem Checklist--Revised (Quay & Peterson, 1983) contains a socialized aggersion scale, and the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1981) includes a delinquency scale. A third instrument, the Differential Problem Sorter (Kelly, 1988) lacks the standardization of the first two checklist, but contains items that, according to the author, discriminate between pupils who are SED ("emotionally disturbed") and SM ("Conduct problem"). Rating scales are quick and convenient devices, they usually have face validity, and some (e.g., the Behavior Problem Checklist--Revised, the Child Behavior Checklist) have been developed through extensive factor analytic studies that established reliable and valid behavioral dimensions. However, behavior rating scales have insufficient breadth and interrater reliability to be used for diagnostic purposes (Salvia & Ysseldyke, 1988). They are useful as screening intruments, that is, to identify from a large pool of individuals those who may possess characteristics important for making differential educational decisions. They should never be used by themselves to identify or assess pupils (McMahon, 1984). However, some school districts in one state use the Differential Problem Sorter to initially classify students as potentially emotionally disturbed or conduct disordered. If an emotional disturbance is indicated a full evaluation is performed, but no further evaluation is conducted if the scale indicates a conduct disorder (Cheney & Sampson, 1990). The use of behavior rating scales for diagnostic classification purposes violates the assumptions upon which these intruments are based. In fact, the American Psychological Associatioln recently adopted a resolution opposing the efforts of some states to exlude conduct-disordered students from special educatioln and related services (Council of Representatives, American Psychological Association, 1989).

The only appropriate procedure for identifying SED and SM pupils is a systematic, comprhensive, multiddiciplinary assessment process. This process must include a variety of relevant domains (I.E., cognitive, social, academic, medical, affective, and functional) sampled across the ecological settings and perspectives relevant to the pupil's functioning in school (Wood, Smith, & Grimes, 1985). Reducing decisions regarding whether students are SED or SM down to a matter of which DSM III diagnostic label has been assigned or reliance on scores on a single rating scale is an unacceptable practice. Furthermore, it violates federal law, which requires a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis.

THE POLITICS OF EDUCATIONAL

PROGRAMMING

The evidence we have presented far suggests that attempting to exlude SM pupils from special education appears to hav e no justification that can be attributed to valid distinctions between these populations. The question, then, is why is this done? We have already indicated two possible explanations: the fear that declaring SM pupils eligible for special education will open a floodgate (similar to the phenomenon that occured when eligibility definitions of learning disabilities based on discrepancies between potential and achievement were established), and avoidance of the suspension/expulsion ban for students protected under Honig v. doe (1988). The expenditure of monies and threats of litigation are powerful disincentives for school districts. Neel and Rutherford (1981) discussed three additional explanations based on prevailing attitudes and practices in the schools, including: (a) SM pupils are not truly disabled; (b) many of these students will be better served under programs for other existing disabilities where the social malajustment is merely a secondary condition resulting from another, more readily identifiable, disability; and (c) these pupil's needs are better served either in the general school population, with its own treatment and discipline options, or through the juvenile justice system

The classfication of students into categories according to their disabilities is influenced by a host political, social, and judgmental fa ctors. The identification of a pupil as having a disability is guided by what the school wishes to do with that student and what (if any) special education programs are available. distinctions between mild, moderate, and severe degrees of some recognized disabilities (e.g., SED) are very hard to make, and school officials have not been trained to recognize antisocial behavior per se as a disability. The absence of clearly articulated identification criteria, as well as the repugnance most educators have for pupils who act out socially, decreases the probability that schools will recognize or provide for their educational needs. As Long (1983, p. 53) observed. "The key issue is not whether all troublesome children should be labeled emotionally disturbed, but rather, whether the schools, and in the final analysis society, would be better served if all children who represent aggressive, disruptive behavior, regardless of how they were labeled, received special attntion and help early in their lives."

We believe that efforst to identify, diagnose, or differentiate various categories of pupils in terms of who is and who is not eligible for special education services on the basis of such elusive and unreliable criteria as SED versus SM, conduct disorder, and the like, are misplaced. It is true that not all students should qualify for services that are expensive and in short supply. The right of each pupil to be educated in the least restrictive environment also must be recognized; educators should determine that the regular education program cannot meet pupils' needs before more restrictive placements are considered. However, the practice of sorting students who are disabled by their behavior into one group that receives services and another group that does not is indefensible. It must be recognized that the behavior of antisocial students (i.e., academic deficits, low rates of academic engagement, poor peer relationships, lack of social competence) places them at risk for special education intervention of placement. The needs of at-risk pupils should be addressed, in least-restrictive settings, through preferral interventions as a prior condition to determining their eligibility for special education programs. Unfortunately, such practices are rare in mostpublic schools, the regular education initiative notwithstanding (Braaten et al., 1988).

The majority of students exhibithing undesirable behavior in school settings generally receive no services, inadequate services under the auspices of regular education programs, or special education services applied piecemeal of too late to be beneficial. If they are unlucky enough to reside in a state or school district in which they have been labeled as antisocial but not disabled, they may be suspended, expelled, or shunted into a variety of "alternative" placements. After years of failure and exlusion, some drop out or are pushed out of school. Others find their way into institutions and programs for delinquent by virtue of their behavior in the community. in either case, schools usually fail to recognize and appropriately meet the special education needs of students with antisocial behavior patterns.

The appaling underidentifcation of pupils who meet the criteria in the current SED definition is sufficient evidence that the educational system is falling short of its charge to provide a "free and appropriate" education to students who are disabled by their behavior. But we would be remiss in recommending merely that more students be certified and served under the existing definition, given its many inadequacies. In addition to extending special education services to all who need them--regardless of whether they are considered emotionally disturbed, behaviorally disordered, or socially maladjusted--the process of identifying and serving students also needs to be changed.

We recommend two major operational changes. First, schools should adopt systematic procedures for screening and identifying pupils who are at risk for emotional or behavioral difficulties early in their school careers. Of course, procedures to identify at-risk students must be accompanied by appropriate interventions if such activities are to be meaningful. The developing technology of early intervention through teacher consultation offers strategies for mobilizing the resources of the regular education system to meet the needs of pupils before more intrusive and stigmatizing special education interventions are considered. Johnson, Pugach, and Hammitte (1988) have observed that special education consultation models have not been widely adopted because such models are incompatible with the use of available school resources. Therefore, the development of teacher assistance teams, comprised of school staff identified with the general education program, may be a more effective strategy (see Fuchs & Fuchs, 1988; Phillips, McCullough, Nelson, & Walker, in press).

The second operational change we recommend is to revise the federal definition of SED. This definition has been widely criticized by the professional community (see our previous discussion). Moreover, the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (1987), the professional organization of special educators serving the SED population, has called for a change in both the federal definition and the label SED. The specific changes we suggest include eliminating the exclusion of the socially maladjusted and changing the definition's emphasis on interference with academic performance as a primary criterion. A more accurate conceptualization of the nature of behavioral disorders recognizes it as a condition that interferes with the development and maintenance of appropriate social relationships, regardless of whether academic progress is impaired. It should be noted, however, that the subjectivity inherent in defining behavior that is considered deviant from the norm cannot be eliminated completely. As Kauffman (1989) emphasized, the definition of behavior as disordered is inescapably judgmental, regardless of how objectively the behaviors in question are measured.

Again, we are not suggesting that special education labeling and placement necessarily will solve the problems of SM pupils. The lack of long-term impact of special education on the lives of students with disabilities, particularly those identified as SED, is well documented (Edgar, 1987; Neel, Meadows, Levine, & Edgar, 1988; U.S. Department of Education, 1990). Instead of merely attempting to identify and place more students in special education programs for students with emotional or behavioral disabilities, we should increase our efforts to identify and provide early intervention for students who are at risk due to their antisocial behavior patterns. Systematic school-based screening, identification, and prereferral intervention procedures (McConaughy & Achenback, 1989; Walker, et al. 1988) must be adopted as routine school practices. Students whose needs cannot be met through this level of intervention should be referred for comprehensive assessments of their eligibility for special education programs. Programming for certified students should be orchestrated through individual educational plans that are multidisciplinary in the sense that each pupil's full range of needs is addressed, not just those needs that exist within school walls. P.L. 99-660 (the Mental Health Services Comprehensive Planning Act) is a step toward the mandate to provide appropriate community-based mental health services to children and adults in need. School and community resources should be coordinated to identify families that are at risk in terms of having at least one child who has a high probability of developing behavioral difficulties in the school or the community. Data from programs that focus on helping parents develop more effective child-rearing practices with preschool children at risk for behavioral disorders demonstrate the wisdom of early family interventions (Johnson, 1988). The national special education/mental health coalition (Forness, 1988) has added impetus to efforts for more comprehensive human services to at-risk populations.

CONCLUSION

The position taken in this article is that similarities in demographic and personal characteristics, the subjectivity inherent in identifying pupils as SED (Benson, Edwards, Rosell, & White, 1986; Kauffman, 1987, 1989), and the absence of any valid evidence or thought which justifies differentiating between SM and SED (Grosenick & Huntze, 1980) invalidate attempts to discriminate between these groups for the purpose of delivering educational services. Thus, the exclusion of SM from the federal definition is unfounded. Further, there are no instruments or methodology that can be used to differentially diagnose SED from SM either validly or reliably. In our view, the problem of delivering effective services to troubled youth supercedes that of differentially diagnosing a student as emotionally disturbed or socially maladjusted. The time spent in such attempts at differential diagnosis seldom results in more effective treatment, and the label resulting from this process may allow school personnel to abrogate responsibility by claiming that SM youth do not qualify for "special" educational provisions or program modifications.

The problem of troubled youth in the schools cannot be addressed in a piecemeal fashion, through services that are fragmented by the several bureaucracies of human service agencies. Differences among agencies in terms of definitions of their service populations and their eligibility criteria have been major factors in the failure to provide effective and cost-efficient services; attempting to make such distinctions within an agency (the public schools) is an invitation to even greater failure. Refusal to provide appropriate services to any pupil is an indictment of the educational system, just as the inability to solve the problem of antisocial behavior is an indictment of our society. The needs of troubled youth and their families across settings and time must be addressed through interdisciplinary planning and intervention, not through exclusionary practices.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

C. MICHAEL NELSON (CEC Chapter #83) is a Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kentucky. ROBERT B. RUTHERFORD, JR. (CEC Chapter #455) is a Professor in the Special Education Program at Arizona State University, Tempe. DAVID B. CENTER (CEC Chapter #685) is a Professor in the Department of Special Education at Georgia State University, Atlanta. HILL M. WALKER (CEC Chapter #375) is the Associate Dean of the College of Education at the University of Oregon, Eugene.

Manuscript received July 1990; revision accepted September 1990

Exceptional Children, Vol. 57, No. 5, pp. 406-415. [C] 1991 The Council for Exceptional Children.

Note: For the past two years the National Mental Health and Special Education coalition, which CEC co-chairs, has been working on anumber of issues pertaining to children and youth with serious emotional disturbances including a new U.S. Federal definition. The CEC Advocacy and Governmental Relations Standing Committee (AGRC) has received and made recommendations regarding the Coalition's proposed definition for consideration by teh CEC governance at the convention in Atlanta. For a copy of their report contact the CEC Office in Governmental Relations at CEC headquarters in Reston, Virginia (703-264-9410).
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Author:Nelson, C. Michael; Rutherford, Robert B., Jr.; Center, David B.; Walker, Hill M.
Publication:Exceptional Children
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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