Tuesday, October 09, 2012

State Board Approves Amended Restraint Regulation

Last December in Mercer County, nine year old Chris Baker, an Autistic student, was told by his special education aide to climb inside a bag intended for therapeutic purposes as a punishment to "control his autistic behavior." He was placed in the bag with the drawstring tightened and left in the hallway in the school. When his mother was called to the school to get her son, she demanded that he be removed from the bag right away. The teacher struggled to undo the drawstring, and Chris emerged sweaty and non-communicative. According to the teacher, this had been done several times over the last year, but his mother didn't know it. 

It is precisely this kind of thing that leads to new regulations - when folks abandon common sense in favor of punitive measures against children.

Since that time, public school administrators and safety advocates have been at odds over policy governing the restraint and seclusion of disorderly students. School superintendents and special education advocates complained to the Kentucky Board of Education that a set of proposed regulations were too vague. So KDE reworked the regulation which passed the State Board Monday.

The regulation prohibits the use of restraint or seclusion for punishment or coercion. Neither can it be used for "convenience!"  The policy forbids the use of mechanical devices such as straps, duct tape - or we assume, a big gym bag (or whatever it was the idiots in Mercer County used).

The policy requires school personnel to receive training in other methods of intervention and to document each incident of restraint or seclusion for reporting to both parents and the state’s student information system.

This sounds pretty consistent with policies already in place in Fayette County. Restraint or seclusion should only be used in situations where a child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.

This from WLEX:
The state Board of Education on Monday approved some changes to a new statewide policy regarding when and how students may be restrained in public schools.

Board members unanimously backed the amended proposal in Frankfort during a regular meeting that will continue Tuesday.

About 75 people attended a public hearing in September to discuss the proposal, said Kevin Brown, general counsel for the Office of Guiding Support Services. Department of Education staff used their comments as well as written correspondence to make the changes, or, in many cases, to keep the proposal intact.

"We hope we have reached a good compromise for Kentucky, and hopefully this regulation does that," Brown told board members.

The proposal prohibits physical restraint of students except when a child's behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm. It also requires that school staff receive training to help them identify situations considered serious enough for restraint and learn positive reinforcement methods.

In responding to concerns that the regulation would hinder the staff's ability to break up student fights, Brown emphasized that "most times a student fight is going to have that serious, imminent threat there."

"This regulation was not designed to have staff necessarily do anything during a student fight," he said. Rather it is "to make sure kids are not being inappropriately restrained and secluded."

The amended proposal adds examples of behavior methods used in classrooms that are not considered physical restraint, such as verbal commands and redirecting students to promote safety.

It also adds a restriction on the restraint of students who use their hands to communicate, such as those who use sign language.

The department ignored suggestions to address property damage, saying in written documents explaining the changes that the proposal is focused on student and staff safety.

"The fact that teachers are unsure of what to do in cases where a student is dismantling a classroom and endangering other students and school personnel in the classroom illustrates the extent to which school personnel need quality training in the area of positive behavior supports and interventions," the department wrote.

This from KSBA:

KBE passes restraint, seclusion reg, adds definitions, 
                  clarifications; attorney: changes will please some, leave others unhappy
The Kentucky Board of Education Monday unanimously approved controversial regulatory language that limits how and when educators may restrain and/or seclude students during the regular school day.

The 16-page regulation (704 KAR 7:160) now goes to a legislative regulatory review committee before taking effect, possibly in early 2013.

Kevin Brown, associate commissioner and general counsel for the Kentucky Department of Education, briefed the state board on several changes included in a 30-page “statement of consideration” produced following a public comment period. The amendments, which were adopted by the KBE, include:

* Clarification of the definition of physical restraint* Added definition for restraint of youth on the ground in prone (face up) or supine (face down) position* New language requiring school resource officers to take the same training on options to physical restraint that will be mandated for all school employees* Clarification that the rules address actions of school employees only during the course of regular school hours* Amended a mandate for facial monitoring of students in restraint or seclusion to a requirement to monitor students’ physical and psychological well-being* Clarification of training requirements for school personnel * Amended emergency exception language

However, more than a dozen other calls for changes in the regulation – many raised by superintendents and education groups such as KSBA and KASS – were rejected by the KDE staff.
One such issue was a request for clearer definition of the term “serious” in the regulation’s limitations on use of physical restraint in situations of potential physical harm by a student acting out. In the “statement of consideration,” KDE staff wrote, “A definition for ‘imminent danger of serious physical harm’ is inappropriate under (a separate regulation’s) restriction and prohibition on the definitions of terms which are intended to have their dictionary meaning. The ‘imminent danger of serious physical harm’ language included in the administrative regulation’s ‘physical restraint’ definition is intended to have its dictionary meaning and therefore is inappropriate for separate definition.”
Brown told state board members, “We can keep adding definitions and defining (but) no matter how much you define, there are always going to be judgment calls and that is where the training comes in."

KBE Member Mary Gwen Wheeler of Louisville asked Brown if the department staff felt maintaining the term “serious” was so important.

“The standard of the regulation is serious physical harm. If you take out the word ‘serious,’ you are increasing the number of times restraint can be used,” Brown said. “The language matches the severity of the time when you would need to use restraint.”

Another major concern voiced by many superintendents is that the regulation prohibits restraint of students who are destroying school property, but causing “imminent danger of serious physical harm” to others in the act.  The “statement of consideration” staff note reads: “While the agency understands concerns about the destruction of property, this administrative regulation has been promulgated to emphasize the primacy of student and school personnel safety. The agency, after reviewing the laws of other states, determined that, of the forty-two (42) states that address physical restraint and seclusion, only sixteen (16) permit physical restraint as a response to the destruction of property. This administrative regulation has been promulgated to emphasize the primacy of student and school personnel safety.”

KBE member Jonathan Parrent of Madisonville picked up on the “judgment call” concern raised by many educators in written and public hearing testimony, asking about restrictions on school personnel in breaking up a fight between students.

“This regulation is not defined to have staff do anything different in (dealing with) a student fight. This regulation is designed to address restraint,” Brown said. “We do not feel that this regulation affects how they handle student fights (but) we’ve added a definition that physical restraint does not mean not pulling a student off another student. We wanted to make sure we clarified that.

Brown added, “We have a very clear exclusion that if you witness a student fight  and the trained members of the restraint team are not available,  staff have the authority to restrain as they see fit, even if they haven’t been trained (in other less-physical conflict resolution techniques) as the core team has been trained.”

Although KBE Chairman David Karem of Louisville said he was “surprised by the level of resistance against have a statewide policy” on the issue, KBE member Nawanna Privett of Lexington called on Department of Education staff to make extra efforts to clarify the regulation to educators.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding from people who have given their lives to education and are concerned about students. I’m concerned that school personnel are going to hesitate when they should not hesitate,” Privett said. “We need to make sure that superintendents and all school personnel really understand what the regulation is about and indeed what it is not about.”

Brown said, “I still think there will be (educators) pleased with many of these changes but there will be many who will not be happy.”


Anonymous said...

More doggone work, documentation and training with 16 pages of regulations because a couple of people don't have any common sense or leaders that know any better. If this sort of thing is going on in a school, I am of the mind that there are other things that are just as out of bounds that are happening. How is it a police officer can cuff a person when they just stop the individual without any formal charge (in order to protect the citizen and the police officer) but an educator is suppose to just standby and let a kid tear up a classroom or vandalize school property with nothing more than a "Hey stop that"?

Anonymous said...

If in this day and age we have to have the state create a 16 page regulation (which needs a 30 page clarification brief)in order to know how to physically treat kids, then I think we are probably wasting our time with all the the confusing, unclear and even contradictory instruction/assessment mumbo jumbo that has been created these last four years in order to know if a child has learned.

Anonymous said...

I will allow my students to kill themselves. I will never break up another fight. Let them attempt to hold me responsible when they put this type of language in writing.

In the end, children will suffer.

Anonymous said...

Dog gone it read the reg, it doesn't say anything about not breaking up fights. If you are saying you are willing to let some kid sit on another kid and pound his face to a bloody pulp and do nothing, then you need to get out of the profession.