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Back to May Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 148 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MAY 1998
'Full Inclusion' Student Is Convicted of Murder
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ST. LOUIS, MO - A behavior-disordered student, who was charged three years ago with the murder of 15-year-old freshman Christine Smetzer at McCluer North High School (see Education Reporter, Feb. 1995), has been convicted of rape and murder in the case.

A jury in the St. Louis County Circuit Court found the student, Michael Taylor, guilty of first-degree murder and rape. He will spend the rest of his life in prison, but since he was just shy of his 16th birthday when he committed the crimes, he is not eligible for the death penalty.

Taylor was a special education student who had been diagnosed with behavior disorders two years prior to the attack. He was initially supervised in the most controlled environment for behavior-disordered students but, as a result of the policy known as "full inclusion," was transferred after only a few months to a regular school, where he spent only half of his day in special classes. Less than two years after beginning Special School District services, he was given a schedule with all regular classes. He murdered Christine one day after he was transferred to McCluer North, with no paper trail to indicate his past problems.

In reaction to the killing, the Missouri legislature passed the Safe Schools Act in 1995, which requires that students' violent behavior records follow them from school to school. However, the records sometimes fail to turn up, and in any case they are confidential, so many parents do not feel reassured by the law.


 
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