Aaron Blake, Star Tribune
November 17, 2005
WASHINGTON - The House on Wednesday passed a bill, introduced by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., that would prohibit schools from requiring students to take medication in order to remain in the classroom.
Under the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, schools may not force medication -- specifically, controlled substances such as Ritalin and Adderall for attention deficit disorders -- on special education students.
Kline's bill would extend that protection to all students. States that do not develop anti-coercion strategies would be cut off from federal funding.
On the floor Tuesday, Kline called coercion in the classroom "a growing problem."
"This is unconscionable," he said. "Parents should never be forced to medicate their child against their will and better judgment in order to ensure their child will receive educational services."
The bill passed 407-12; the eight members of the Minnesota delegation supported it.
Republican Reps. Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy and Democrat Collin Peterson were co-sponsors.
Some psychiatric groups had urged that the bill be withdrawn because they aren't convinced such a problem even exists.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is one of four that sent a letter to Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, calling the legislation "premature" and urging an examination of the alleged coercion before any laws are passed.
"We just want to know if there is an issue with this," said Kristin Kroeger Ptakowski, deputy executive director and director of government affairs and clinical practice at the academy.
No similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
Aaron Blake is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau.