First published in the Tampa Tribune April 25, 2005
I read with interest your recent article on legislation (HB 209 and SB 1766) to protect children and parents rights currently being considered by the Florida legislature. There are two parts of the bill. The first part would prohibit the State from rejecting public school students whose parents refuse to put them on mind-altering psychotropic medicine as a pre-requisite for attending school. This is virtually identical to a federal bill passed last year by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bush. The second part requires full disclosure to parents if and when school administrators refer their children to psychiatric care, with the predictable recommendation to use drugs to control their child’s behavior.
Who would oppose full disclosure and parental consent when it comes to psychological screening and the drugging of our state’s school children? Most surprising is that the leading opposition to the bill is the Florida Drug Czar, Jim McDonough, whose job it is to free Florida’s citizens of the harmful effects of drugs. Incredibly, Mr. McDonough told the House committee that his concern about this legislation was the ‘unintended consequences’ of letting parents have the full picture when it comes to psychological screenings or the right to refuse the powerful mind-altering drugs being used as chemical restraints in the classroom.
The resounding response from the Health Care Regulation Committee on passing the bill through the committee was best summed up by Rep. Poppel, who said he was dismayed that the only opposition to the bill came from professional psychologists and sociologists who each had a vested interest in the continual labeling and drugging of our youth. The committee passed the bill out favorably with a vote of 10-1 in support of Full Disclosure and Parental Consent.
While the legislature provides financial incentives to increase the grip of the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry on our schools, this legislation simply asks to give parents a role in their children’s future. Rep Gustavo Barreiro (R-Miami) wants parents to get the full picture when it comes to labeling and drugging their children.
In an era of special interests, it is refreshing to see Rep Barreiro and Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa), and the other co-sponsors of this bill, stand up for the rights of the all too often unrepresented public. It took the US Congress to force the FDA into hearings on the deadly side effects of psychotropic drugs that resulted in the strongest Black Box Warning label about the suicidal consequences associated with the use of these drugs by our youth. When young Jeff Weise shot up his Minnesota school, McDonough had his facts so wrong that he testified before the legislature that Rep Barreiro’s bill would prohibit Weise from getting the help he needed. The next day, the national press including the St. Pete Times, exposed the truth; that Weise had been under psychiatric treatment for years and was currently taking the drug Prozac when he murdered his friends and killed himself.
Currently, the Florida Department of Education statistics show an alarming 40% of all Special Education funding is spent on Learning Disabilities and the Emotionally Handicapped. This after a 2002 President’s Commission on Special Education released it’s finding that 40% of all children in Special Education are labeled with learning disorders simply because they had not been taught to read. Our schools need to concentrate on the business of teaching children not controlling their behavior with life altering techniques.