Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Restraint Sample Letter


Drafted by Calvin and Tricia Luker of the Respect ABILITY Law Center (248) 544-7223. Copied from



(Name of Special Education Director)
(Name of School District)
(Address of School)

Re: child’s name and birth date (DOB 8-11-75)

Dear (Name of Special Education Director):

My child, child’s name, is a ________ grade student at ______ school. (Insert child’s name) has (autism or other disability) and has been receiving special education services since s/he started school.

We are concerned that (insert child’s name) behavior challenges now are being or might be addressed in part through the use of physical management and restraint. I have not authorized and will not consent to any activity that involves physically or mechanically restraining my child while at school or going to and from school. I know that special education law requires the use of functional assessments of behavior and positive behavior support plans to address behavior challenges. If the school feels (insert child’s name) behavior is such that physical management or restraints are being considered or used, it is obvious to me that we need to follow the law, do the assessment and develop a positive behavior support plan.

I am sure you are aware of the number of news reports in recent years highlighting the death of children with disabilities during or after having been physically managed or restrained. Given that special education law requires the development of behavior plans, and given the known risks to children – and to (insert child’s name) – of the use of restraint, I need for you to be clear that I will weigh all legal options if restraint activities against (insert child’s name) are not terminated immediately.

You may consider this letter a request to convene a behavior support team meeting to discuss (insert child’s name) behavior and possible approaches to address his/her particular needs. You also may consider this letter my request and consent for the performance of a functional assessment of behavior across environments and across time, provided that I am informed in advance that the functional assessment of behavior is going to be conducted and am permitted to participate in the development and implementation of the assessment.

I want to work with you and with (insert child’s name) teachers and professionals at _____ school to be sure that (insert child’s name) learns to develop positive behavioral skills in an environment that is safe for him/her, for his/her peers and for school personnel. I am certain that you also share my concern for student safety where physical intervention has the potential to result in the student’s death. I, like you, want my child’s school to be a safe and secure environment where all students can learn. I want to work with you to help create that environment for (insert child’s name.)


(Your name)
(Your address)
(Your telephone number)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NEW DETAILS: Prior allegations for teacher in special needs abuse case

By Melissa Cabral, WINK News

Story Created: Sep 23, 2008 at 6:21 PM EDT

Story Updated: Sep 23, 2008 at 7:07 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - New details in a story we broke Exclusively on WINK News about allegations of abuse at a Lee County Elementary School.

We're learning this isn't the first time one of the teachers involved is being accused of abusing special needs children.

Cape Coral Police confirm one of the teachers accused of lying on top of a five year old autistic student is Catherine Hile. Hile was recently under investigation by the state for allegedly punching a student in Charlotte County.

WINK News digs into Catherine Hile's personnel file and uncovers several previous allegations.

Back in 2005, witnesses claim to see Hile tie a special needs student to a chair, putting hand sanitizer in a students mouth to get them to stop yelling, and punching a special needs student several times while teaching at Charlotte Harbor School in Port Charlotte.

The claim of punching a student prompted the Florida Department of Education to investigate.

The two sides recently settled and as part of the deal Hile is not admitting or denying she punched a student. She agreed to undergo counseling and will keep her job as a teacher at Gulf Elementary in Lee County.

There are now new allegations Hile and a behavioral specialist were allegedly found lying on top of 5-year-old Jazzmyn Haycook as a way to restrain her.

Board Member Bob Chilmonik says he's concerned about our Exclusive report, "The way I see this right now is a training problem with our teachers. we need to train them properly."

The district maintains the instructors accused of lying on Jazzmyn are trained to restrain special needs children and acted appropriately.

WINK News left messages for Hile but our calls have not been returned.

In her personnel file, she denies the allegations of abuse in Charlotte County Schools.

Hile was also recognized as a finalist for the Lee County Golden Apple.

Related News:

FLORIDA EXCLUSIVE: Alleged abuse on special needs student in school

SPECIAL NOTE: Four other schools in Lee County (Pelican Elementary School, Royal Palm Exception School, Three Oaks Elementary, and Trafalgar Elementary School) have had similar allegations leveled at them.

By Melissa Cabral, WINK News
Story Created: Sep 22, 2008 at 4:20 PM EDT
Story Updated: Sep 22, 2008 at 6:16 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - FIRST ON WINK: Allegations of abuse at a Lee County Elementary School.

A parent claims seeing two teachers laying on top of his 5-year-old special needs child.

WINK News confirms the Department of Children and Families is investigating.

Terry Mattox says he dropped off medication at Gulf Elementary School and when a nurse called his daughters classroom, "I heard my daughter over the phone just screaming her head off. It was pure terror."

He says other children were in the room witnessing it happen.

Mattox says his daughter suffered injuries including run burn, bruising, and scratches.

According to the police report, the little girl began having a violent episode and instructors were trying to restrain her.

Mattox says, "I can see if you're trying to keep a child from hurting themselves and restrain them but that's no way to go about it. Don't lay across her head."

WINK News asked for the Florida Department of Education's policy on restraining children. The recommendations state teachers are allowed to use reasonable force as necessary to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment... and reasonable force cannot be excessive cruel or unusual in nature. It also says it's the school districts responsibility to maintain an orderly, safe environment.

The Lee County School District denied our request for an on camera interview but provided this written statement:

"As you are aware, the law prohibits the District from providing information on a specific student or a situation involving a specific student. That being said, when the District was made aware of the situation you've referenced, it followed procedure and conducted a preliminary investigation. After District officials spoke with the parties involved while compiling preliminary information, it was determined that no further action was necessary. Staff responded appropriately and in accordance with the training they received for physically restraining students who are acting out in a physically violent way (e.g. hitting their heads on the ground or against the wall, flailing their arms or kicking wildly, etc.) Restraint is only performed to prevent a student from injuring themselves or others. I believe the Cape Coral Police Department was also involved in some capacity and I am unaware of that outside, independent agency finding any cause for further action. I would refer you to the Cape Coral Police Department for more information on their investigation concerning this matter."

Related News:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

‘Chill room’ leads Block Island superintendent to give up special education role

07:16 PM EDT on Wednesday, September 17, 2008

By Katie Mulvaney

Journal Staff Writer

In the aftermath of a simmering controversy over the creation of a locked isolation room in the basement of the Block Island School, Supt. Leslie A. Ryan has resigned as the district’s special-education director.

Related link
Extra: Read the 7-page New Shoreham School Facility Report
“As we know, it was wrong to put locks on the chill room,” she said Monday at a School Committee meeting packed with supporters and critics. It was her first public acknowledgement that she was responsible for creating the room.

Ryan, who had doubled as special-education director since 2006, apologized for what she characterized as a painful episode for the island community and said she has always kept the children’s best interests at heart.

She said she was not aware that the room ran afoul of state regulations involving the restraint of students. And, she said, she made the decision to use it during a crisis situation.

She said her resignation was necessary to establish “clear accountability” by separating the special-education director position from that of the superintendent. She will continue as superintendent, but will relinquish her special-education duties as soon as a part-time replacement is hired.

While acknowledging her role in creating the room, Ryan did not disclose to the parents and staff at the meeting that her earlier, repeated representations that the room had been developed in consultation with Bradley Hospital were untrue. She also did not acknowledge that the district had never prepared a written crisis-intervention plan for the student who had been locked in the room, as she earlier told other island officials.

Those disclosures, however, were outlined in a Sept. 2 letter sent to the state Department of Education and the state attorney general’s office. The letter, written by Denise Myers, the school district’s lawyer, was sent to clarify misinformation given to the two agencies earlier.

The existence of the isolation room was first made public by The Providence Journal on June 14, just as the school was closing for the summer. The Journal inquired after receiving an anonymous DVD showing a corridor leading to Room 20, showing a door with two bolts and a hole where a doorknob should be. Inside, one window is boarded up with plywood, and there are pillows and blankets in a jumble on the floor. A letter accompanying the video wondered whether this room was being used for “unruly students.”

Ryan released a terse statement denying the use of any “archaic practices” involving students. She refused a reporter’s request to see the room, and also refused to answer questions about how the room came to be or how it was used.

Police Chief Vincent Carlone, who took a reporter to see the room, said Ryan told him the room had been developed in consultation with Bradley, an East Providence hospital specializing in children with emotional, mental and behavioral challenges.

Bradley officials have repeatedly denied involvement. In July, a hospital spokeswoman said that someone from Bradley consulted with the school early last year about the needs of one student, but did not provide recommendations on the design or development of a specific behavior room.

As the controversy grew, the School Committee hired consultants, who reported publicly late last month that the room violated the state fire code because its door could be bolted from the outside. It also violated state education regulations because staff could not observe students at all times through the small window in the door.

The consultants also reported, for the first time, that the room was used for more than one student and on more than one occasion. They said the room was used for a while as a voluntary “chill out” room for students. At some point, its use became “more restrictive” to handle an overly aggressive boy. They also said that a girl was sent to the room for “undesired behavior.”

After the first story by The Journal, the state Department of Education directed Block Island officials to report, as required by regulations, on any time a student had been physically restrained.

Ryan responded with details of one incident, last Nov. 30, that “required temporary use of a latch” because a student was “attacking staff and trying to punch through a glass door.”

At the School Committee meeting Monday night, Ryan’s resignation was accepted by a 3-to-2 vote. Chairman William Padien and member Anne Hall were opposed. Her $90,000 contract will be renegotiated.

“I feel there were things done incorrectly — wrong,” Padien said, “but there were a lot of things done correctly.” The resignation might be a service to some, but it would be a disservice to others as it stemmed from a single incident, he said.

Prior to the vote, parent Derek van Lent spoke in support of Ryan, saying it was his understanding that Ryan has been “outstanding,” with the exception of one regrettable incident.

John Warfel, a teacher at the 150-student school, cautioned that the combined special education-superintendent position had created an inherent conflict because it essentially required Ryan to supervise herself.

Then former Police Chief William McCombe, acting as advocate for the mother of the boy restrained in the room, suggested “the public didn’t have the whole picture.” He alluded to the Sept. 2 letter containing admissions involving Bradley and a written educational plan for the student. Padien said it wasn’t relevant to the motion. McCombe responded that such details were relevant to Ryan’s performance.

After the meeting adjourned, Myers, the district’s lawyer, was asked why she had written a letter to the Department of Education in late July asserting that the school had an individual education plan and a behavioral plan in place for the boy. She said Ryan had told her so.

“There has never been a behavior plan,” Myers said.

Ryan will not be allowed to have contact with the boy or his sibling, Myers said.

“[Principal Davida Irving] will be in charge of the child,” Myers said. “He will not be dealt with by the superintendent.”

Town Manager Nancy Dodge said yesterday she was perplexed to read the Sept. 2 letter because Ryan had told her repeatedly that there was a behavior plan for the child and that Bradley had been involved “every step of the way.”

“There was no plan,” Dodge said, adding, “I was very surprised to find that out so far along the way.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

MA: Mother wants answers from police 3 months after son's death

September 18, 2008 03:19 PM

By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff

Standing on the same corner where her son collapsed, Cathy Woodman demanded answers today from police about his death.

Behind her stood two dozen stoic-faced Emmanuel College students holding signs with bold black letters that read: "Who was served? Who was protected?" and "Three months ago today still no justice." Others held placards that bore pictures of a smiling, 22-year-old David Woodman.

It was exactly three months ago today that the former Emmanuel student stopped breathing after his arrest during the Celtics championship celebration. Woodman was carrying a plastic cup of beer on his walk home June 18 when he was confronted by nine uniformed officers at the Fenway and Brookline Avenue.

"The questions are still unanswered," Cathy Woodman said today through tears as he stood with her husband, Jeffrey. "There are nine people who know the truth right now."

Woodman's friends have said that the officers grabbed him and slammed him to the ground. Police allege Woodman struggled with officers as they charged him with public drinking and resisting arrest. He stopped breathing and died 11 days later in the hospital.

Police have said they are waiting for autopsy results from the medical examiner's office. Woodman's death is also being investigated by the Suffolk district attorney's office, the Boston US attorney's office, and a private Boston lawyer

Monday, September 15, 2008

Action Alert: Georgia

There will be an important State Advisory Panel Meeting Concerning Georgia Public Education for Special Needs Children on September 18th and September 19th at Unicoi State Park in Helen Georgia. Restraint and Seclusion Rule/Guidance is one topic on the agenda.

Here is the full agenda:

Public Comments can be given between 11:30 and 12 noon with a limit of 5 minutes and if possible comments should be provided in writing. At 1:00 p.m. there will be a discussion concerning state rule changes for restraints and seclusion room usage in public schools.

Unfortunately and disconcertingly, the proposed rule changes for restraint and seclusion have not been shared in advance of the meeting. The proposed changes will be shared as soon as we obtain a copy.

This meeting will be held at the lodge at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia.

For further information contact Debbie Twiford, Chair at debbie_e_twiford or Stephanie Moss, Vice Chair at stephanie

Directions to Unicoi State Park Lodge and Conference Center:

Georgia - Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review

As promised, here is the full copy of the draft of the proposed rule for Restraint and Seclusion in Georgia schools. Special thanks go out to a very special lady for sharing this with us.

Please note that on the surface, this rule doesn't look too bad. But take a closer look, and you'll see that this proposed rule only suggests what schools "should" do to keep children and staff safe during restraints and/or seclusions, not what they MUST do. As such, this document is completely unenforceable and meaningless as written. However, change the "shoulds" to "must" or "shall" and you have a document that at least gives parents a leg to stand on if schools should decide "not" to follow proper procedures.

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 1 of 8

Georgia Department of Education Guidance on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion Timeout for Students with Disabilities


The Georgia Department of Education supports a positive approach to behavior that uses proactive strategies to create a safe school climate that promotes dignity and achievement for all students. In order to increase instructional time and improve student achievement for all students, it is essential that a positive schoolwide discipline or behavioral support system be developed and implemented in each school and program. When teachers and administrators implement a positive, schoolwide discipline program with fidelity, a safe learning environment is created and students are able to learn without the constant interruptions that occur when teachers are required to address discipline problems in the classroom.

While it is essential that a positive behavioral support program serve as the foundation for every school’s or program’s discipline program, it is clear that some students exhibit more severe behavioral challenges that may require more intensive and individualized behavioral interventions. For students with disabilities, these interventions should be clearly specified in the students’ Individualized Education Programs and/or Behavior Intervention Plans and implemented when less intensive intervention have not been successful in addressing the students’ behavioral problems. In situationsin which students with disabilities are a danger to themselves or others, it may be necessary to utilize significantly more intensive interventions such as restraint and seclusion timeout. The sole purpose of using restraint and seclusion should be to defuse the situation, protect the students and others from injury, and regain a safe and productive learning environment.

When considering the use of seclusion timeout and restraint, it is important to respect the dignity of the student and protect the safety of the student and staff. Restraint and seclusion timeout only be used with students with disabilities in situations when less intensive interventions have failed. These intensive interventions require diligent assessment, monitoring, documentation, and reporting by trained personnel. This guidance document provides information to administrators, staff and families on the use of restraint and seclusion timeout for students with disabilities. It is applicable to students with disabilities who are served in schools, Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS), and state schools.

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 2 of 8


The following definitions are provided related to restraint and seclusion timeout for students with disabilities:

1. Restraint refers to an intensive intervention that restricts the free movement of all or a portion of a student’s body. There are two types of restraint that are sometimes used in school systems: physical and mechanical.

Physical restraint involves direct physical contact that prevents or significantly restricts a student’s movement when the student is a danger to himself/herself or others. Restraint protects the safety of the student and others and includes techniques such as supportive holds. Physical restraint does not include the following actions:

* Providing the minimal contact necessary to physically escort a student from one area to another;
* Providing physical prompting to assist in completing a task/response if the student does not resist or resistance is minimal in intensity or duration;
* or Holding a student for a brief time in order to prevent an impulsive behavior that threatens the student’s immediate safety (e.g., running in front of a car).

Mechanical restraint means the use of any device or material attached to or adjacent to a student’s body that restricts normal freedom of movement and which cannot be easily removed by a student. Mechanical restraint includes, but is not limited to, safety harnesses and lap belts fastened behind the chair. It does not include:

* An adaptive or protective device recommended by a physician or therapist when used as recommended. For example, an adaptive chair with laptray can be used for positioning a student with a physical disability and is not considered restraint. If the chair is used to restrict the movement of the child due to behavior, it is considered restraint.

* Safety equipment used by the general student population as intended (e.g. seat belts,).

Although chemical restraints are used in clinical settings, they are not appropriate for use in schools or GNETS programs. Any medication prescribed for individual students should be administered as authorized by the student’s physician.

2. Seclusion timeout refers to an intervention that isolates and confines the student in a separate supervised area until he or she is no longer a danger to himself/herself or others. Seclusion timeout occurs in a specifically constructed or designated room or space that is physically isolated from common areas, typically has a locked door, and from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. Seclusion timeout may also be referred to as “isolated timeout” or “monitored seclusion”.

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 3 of 8

Seclusion timeout does not include in-school suspension, detention, or a student requested break in a different location in the room or in a separate room. It also does not include timeout, a behavioral intervention in which the student is removed from the learning activity to regain control of behavior because the student’s physical movement is not restricted.

Limitations on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion Timeout:

Restraint and seclusion timeout:

1. Should only be used in situations when the student is in imminent danger of hurting himself/herself or others. When the student is no longer a danger to himself/herself or others, the restraint should be terminated and the student should be returned to the instructional activity. If seclusion timeout is being used, the student should be removed from the seclusion room and returned to the instructional activity.
2. Should not be used when the student is responsive to less intensive interventions and de-escalation techniques including verbal commands and directives that are outlined in the student’s IEP or Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP).
3. Should not be used as a form of discipline or punishment, as a means to obtain compliance, or as a replacement for less restrictive alternatives.
4. Should not be used when students cannot be safely restrained or secluded.
5. Should not be used when the use of the intervention would be contraindicated due to the student’s psychiatric, medical, or physical conditions as described in the student’s Individualized Education Program or other medical and educational records.

Student and Staff Safety:

When using restraint and seclusion timeout, school staff should take all precautions necessary to ensure the safety of the student and the staff engaged in restraining or secluding the student. Restraint and seclusion timeout should be implemented in a safe and humane manner without any intent to harm or create undue discomfort to the student. Ensuring safety requires that staff be trained in the use of restraint techniques and that seclusion timeout rooms are safe and used in an appropriate manner. Observers or monitors should be present when the child is being secluded or restrained to observe the child’s physical status and to determine when the child is no longer a danger to himself/herself or others. Restraint and seclusion timeout should be immediately terminated if the child observed to be in distress. Documentation of each instance of seclusion timeout and restraint should be maintained.

Written Procedures:

Schools or programs that utilize restraint and seclusion timeout should develop written procedures that govern their use. The procedures should be reviewed with all school or program staff who will be utilizing restraint and seclusion timeout and parents should also be provided with information regarding these procedures.

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 4 of 8

School and program administrators should monitor the staff’s adherence to these procedures and should immediately address any situations in which the procedures are not being followed. Procedures should be reviewed at least annually and changes should be made as needed.

Staff Training:

Staff working with students with severe behavior challenges who are at risk of harming themselves or others should be trained in crisis management techniques and de-escalation strategies that can be used when students are in immediate physical danger to themselves or others. When these less intensive interventions are successful in de-escalating the situation, restraint and seclusion should not be used.

School or program staff, who participate in restraints, should successfully complete training in the use of restraints prior to restraining a student who is a danger to himself/herself or others. This training should be provided by a qualified trainer and the restraint approach used should be approved by the school or program administrator. In order to prevent injury to the students and staff, any staff not trained in restraints should not participate in the restraint of a student.

Staff should receive training in the restraint approach that is used in the school, school system, or program on a schedule that is prescribed by the training program and approved by the administrator. The school or program should maintain records of all restraint training completed by staff. The school or program administrators should monitor the use of seclusion and restraint to ensure implementation with fidelity. Coaching and follow-up training should be provided on an on-going basis and any situations in which the procedures are not being followed should be immediately addressed.

Staff participating in the seclusion of students should be trained in the school’s or program’s procedures used to seclude students in a safe manner. The importance of maintaining a safe seclusion room, providing constant visual monitoring during the seclusion, and documenting the seclusion using incident reports should be required and included in any training provided to the staff.

Parental Notification:

Parents should be clearly informed of a school’s or program’s use of restraint and seclusion timeout when their child is placed in the program or school and they should be informed each time in writing when restraint and seclusion has been used.

Upon entry into a school or program that uses restraint and seclusion timeout, the parent should be notified that these techniques are used only in situations in which the student is in immediate danger to himself/herself or others. The use of restraint and seclusion timeout should be clearly addressed in the development of the student’s Individualized Education Program or in the development of the Behavior Intervention Plan and the parents should be involved in the development of these documents. In addition, a program or school may choose

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 5 of 8

to obtain written parental consent at the beginning of each school year for their child to be restrained or placed in a seclusion room.

Parents should be notified as soon as possible when their child is removed from the school setting by law enforcement or medical personnel. The student’s parents or guardians should be notified each time the student is restrained or placed in a seclusion room. This notification should occur in writing and may include a copy of the incident report that is used to document the use restraint or seclusion. Parents and school staff may mutually agree that notification via e-mail or telephone is adequate. Regardless of the method used, the school should maintain documentation of the parent notification.

Ensuring Safe and Effective Use of Restraint:

When using restraint to protect students who are a danger to themselves or others, the following guidelines are recommended:

1. Less restrictive interventions outlined in the student’s IEP or Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) should first be used to de-escalate the behavior and he/she should only be restrained when these interventions prove unsuccessful.
2. Restraints should be conducted by staff who are trained in the restraint procedures that have been adopted by the school or program. Staff should know and utilize the prescribed procedures for requesting assistance.
3. The adults participating in the restraint should carefully observe the student to observe any physical distress and cease any action that may result in harm to the student.
4. When possible, all potentially dangerous materials such as jewelry, pencils, pens or other objects should be removed to ensure the student’s safety.
5. The student should be restrained in a manner that is safe to the student and the staff implementing the restraint.
6. The restraint should be removed as soon as the student is no longer a danger to himself/herself or others. Generally, students should be restrained for no longer than 10 minutes. If the restraint lasts longer than 10minutes, additional staff support should be provided and the documentation log should explain the extension beyond the time limit.
7. As soon as appropriate after the restraint is removed, the staff should discuss the incident leading up to the restraint with the student and discuss strategies that the student can use in the future to more effectively control his/her behavior.
8. When the student is no longer a danger to himself/herself or others, he/she should be returned to the instructional activity.
9. The restraint should be documented in an incident report that is turned in to the school or program administrator.

Ensuring Safe and Effective Use of Seclusion Timeout:

When secluding students who are a danger to themselves or others, the following guidelines are recommended:

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 6 of 8

1. Less restrictive interventions outlined in the student’s IEP or Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) should first be used to de-escalate the behavior and he/she should only be placed in seclusion timeout when these interventions prove unsuccessful.
2. Seclusion timeout should be conducted by staff who are trained in the seclusion procedures that have been adopted by the school or program. All staff should be informed of who to immediately contact when seclusion timeout is required. All staff should be clearly informed as to who can make the determination to place the student in the seclusion timeout room.
3. The seclusion timeout room should provide a student with a safe environment in which he/she can regain control before returning to the classroom or other setting. Seclusion timeout rooms should meet the following standards:
* Be of adequate size to allow the students to lie down.
* Allow for visual monitoring by staff supervising the seclusion and, if possible, auditory monitoring of the student.
* If a lock is placed on the seclusion timeout room door, it should be designed to allow the student to escape the room in emergency situations.
* Provide adequate lighting and ventilation.
* Be free of safety hazards such as electrical outlets, glass windows, lighting fixtures or fire sprinklers within reach.
* Be clean and in good repair.
* Meet all fire and safety codes of the city and county in which the facility is located.
4. The student should be escorted to the seclusion timeout room in a manner that is safe to the student and to the adults involved in the removal.
5. Prior to placement in the seclusion timeout room, all potentially dangerous materials such as belts, shoes and/or shoelaces, jewelry, pencils, pens or other objects should be removed.
6. While in the seclusion timeout room, the adults supervising the seclusion should maintain constant visual contact/monitoring of the student. The door to the seclusion room should only be locked in the most extreme situations in which the student cannot be contained in the room. If a lock is placed on the seclusion room door, it should be designed to allow the student to escape the room in emergency situations.
7. Generally, elementary students should be placed in seclusion for no longer than fifteen minutes and middle and high school students for no longer than twenty minutes. If seclusion lasts longer that the above recommended times, additional staff support should be provided and the documentation log should explain the extension beyond the time limit.
8. When the student is no longer a danger to himself/herself or others, he/she should be removed from the seclusion room and escorted back to the classroom or other location.
9. The seclusion should be documented in an incident report and the school administrator should immediately be informed of the seclusion.

Role of Law Enforcement and Emergency Medical Personnel:

In situations in which the student is a danger to himself or others , it may become necessary to seek assistance from law enforcement and/or emergency medical personnel. Nothing in this

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 7 of 8

guidance document should be construed to interfere with the duties of law enforcement or emergency medical personnel.

Parents should be informed as soon as possible when students are removed from the school or program setting by emergency medical or law enforcement personnel.

Required Documentation:

The use of restraint and seclusion timeout should be carefully documented by adult staff participating in and supervising the restraint or seclusion. Documentation of restraint or seclusion timeout should be provided using an incident report that is completed for each student in each instance in which the student is restrained or placed in a seclusion room. This report should minimally include the following:
* Date;
* Student’s Name;
* Precipitating Behavior;
* Less Restrictive Intervention Implemented Prior to Restraint or Seclusion;
* Observations of Student’s Behavior and Physical Status;
* Injuries to the Student or Staff;
* Total Time Spent in Restraint or Seclusion;
* and Staff Signature.

These incident reports should be reviewed by school or program administrators and other staff, as appropriate, on a weekly basis. Monthly summary reports should be maintained to document the use of restraint and seclusion. This monthly summary report should be signed by the school administrator and maintained on file in the school.

Analysis and Evaluation of the Use of Restraint and Seclusion Timeout:

Information from the incident reports should be used to regularly assess the effectiveness of these techniques. When a student repeatedly must be restrained or placed in a seclusion timeout room, or when the amount of time spent being restrained or secluded exceeds the recommended times, the staff should determine if the interventions are effectively meeting the student’s needs.

There are several actions that the staff may undertake. They include:

* Reviewing Individualized Education Program (IEP), Functional Behavioral Assessment, and/or Behavioral Intervention Plan to re-assess the interventions that are in place to address the student’s behavioral difficulties;
* Consulting with other professionals such as social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists to examine other interventions that may be more suitable in meeting the student’s needs;
* and/or Considering other placement options which may be more appropriate to address the student’s needs.

Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools
Draft Document for State Advisory Panel Review
Page 8 of 8

Iowa - Board tightens rules for schools on restraint

By STACI HUPP • • September 12, 2008

Iowa's schools will be held accountable for the way they discipline the most disruptive students under tougher rules adopted Thursday by the state Board of Education.

Board members approved limits on the use of "timeout" rooms for students who are a threat to themselves or others.

The rules restrict some forms of restraint, such as holding a student facedown on the floor. Educators must get permission from school administrators to confine children in timeout rooms for longer than an hour.

School officials also must attempt to contact parents and document every time they use the discipline method.

State law allows school officials to confine children in timeout rooms, but parents and advocates for disabled Iowans complain that educators overuse it.

The Waukee school district faces two lawsuits from families who say their children were denied access to an education because they were confined regularly for long stretches.

A couple who sued the district in February alleges that their grandson was locked in timeout 64 times throughout his first-grade year, but that school officials told them about only 17 of them. Court records do not identify the family. Officials from the Waukee school district and Heartland Area Education Agency, whose employees work with disabled students, have said they don't overuse the discipline strategy.

Members of the state education board studied the proposal for about four months before Thursday's unanimous vote, which came with little discussion.

Some supporters, however, were buzzing about it.

"I think it gives parents a more level playing field," said Doug Loeffler, who claims Waukee school officials once confined his autistic daughter for more than three hours.

The changes are part of Iowa's corporal punishment law, which hasn't been tweaked since 1991.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

PBIS Resources

The Association for Positive Behavior Support
An international organization dedicated to promoting research-based strategies, this website contains information about PBS in different settings, PBS Research and Readings, as well as information about their yearly conference, and supports and promotes the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

The Beach Center of Disability Positive Behavior Support
Sponsored by the University of Kansas, this website contains links to a PBS newsletter, training announcements, and implementing PBS at home and at school.

Florida's Positive Behavioral Support Project
Contains 13 different training modules for School Wide Positive Behavioral Supports and 4 different training modules for Individual Postive Behavioral Supports.

Functional Behavioral Assessment and Positive Interventions: What Parents Need to Know
Published by the PACER Center, this document provides an overview to help explain functional
behavioral assessments and positive interventions.

Kansas Institute for Positive Behavior Support
Free online tutorial containing training modules such as Introduction to Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Person-Centered Planning(PCP), Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), Designing Positive Behavior Support Plans (PBSP), Emotional and Behavioral Health, and several others. You must log in as a guest user to access the modules.

Michigan Positive Behavioral Support Network
Sponsored by Bridges4Kids, this webiste contains information about bullying, Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs), Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIPs), Use of Restraint, Discipline Issues, as well as links to articles and other resources.

Is School-Wide Positive Behahvior Support An Evidence-Based Practice?

The following is an excerpt from A Research Summary the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) published in 2007:

A Research Summary
OSEP Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports[1]
September 21, 2007

School-wide Positive Behavior Support is a systems approach to establishing the social culture and behavioral supports needed for all children in a school to achieve both social and academic success. SWPBS is not a packaged curriculum, but an approach that defines core elements that can be achieved through a variety of strategies. The core elements at each of the three tiers in the prevention model are defined below:

· Behavioral expectations defined
· Behavioral expectations taught
· Continuum of consequences (i.e., rewards, reinforcers) for appropriate behavior
· Continuum of consequences for problem behavior
· Continuous active supervision or monitoring across all school settings
· Continuous monitoring, collection, and use of data for decision-making

· Early universal screening
· Continuous progress monitoring for students with at risk behavior
· System for increasing structure and predictability
· System for increasing contingent adult feedback
· System for linking academic and behavioral performance
· System for increasing home/school communication
· Collection and use of data for formative decision-making

· Functional behavioral assessment
· Team-based comprehensive assessment and intervention
· Linking of academic and behavior supports
· Individualized intervention based on assessment information focusing on (a) prevention of problem contexts; (b) instruction on functionally equivalent skills, and instruction on desired performance skills; (c) strategies for placing problem behavior on extinction; (d) strategies for enhancing contingent reward of desired behavior; and (e) use of negative or safety consequences if needed.
· Establishment of local behavioral expertise
· Collection and use of data for decision-making

Florida - School staffer faces charges

From the
By Tiffany Lankes
Published: Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 12, 2008 at 11:44 p.m.

A special education aide grabbed an autistic student by the chin and shoved his head into a wall two times at Venice High School, police say.

Richard Green has worked with special education students for nine years.

The blows drew blood, and were witnessed by a teacher, police records show.

Richard Green, 58, who has worked with special education students at the school for nine years, was charged Thursday with aggravated child abuse. He left jail Friday evening on $5,000 bail.

Green, who is married and has two adult children, is the second school staff member in Sarasota County's schools arrested this year and accused of abusing special education students.

In February, police arrested Venice Elementary School teacher Diana O'Neill after aides documented more than a dozen instances when she hit, slapped and kicked the disabled students in her special education class. She now faces four counts of child abuse.

The incident happened Monday after the 17-year-old student became disruptive in class and teacher Shannon McNeil asked Green to escort him to the school's behavior specialist.

McNeil then tried to call the behavior specialist to let him know the student was on the way. But the specialist was not in his office, and she followed as Green took the student to an empty room.
McNeil was outside of the room when she heard Green start yelling at the student, the records show. She told detectives she entered the room in time to see Green grab the student's jaw and shove his head into the wall. Another staff member reported hearing Green yelling from her office about 50 feet away.

The impact caused the student's mouth to bleed and left a mark on his face. McNeil told Green to stop and leave the room.

The school placed Green on administrative leave immediately following the incident.

Green made his first appearance in court on Friday, where the judge lowered his bail from $50,000 to $5,000.

His attorney Catherine Sloan -- the same attorney hired by the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association to represent O'Neill -- said Green never intended to hurt the student.

Sloan said that Green had little experience working with autistic students.

Prior to this year, she said he worked as a nursing aide for students with disabilities. She said this was his first year as a personal aide for the autistic student.

Autism is a brain development disorder that can dramatically impact behavior, and cause a person to act out and even become violent.

It is fairly common for students with more severe disabilities to have personal aides who help them throughout the day.

Sloan said that Green expressed concerns about the new job to his supervisors and asked for training to learn how to handle the autistic student. But the training was not scheduled to happen until next week, Sloan said. Green has been working with the student since school started in August.

Sloan said the student's behavior escalated during the incident and he started biting his own arm. She also said the student is about the same size as Green, who is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weights 255 pounds.

"He had made it known to several of the personnel there that he was not comfortable with the situation," Sloan said. "He absolutely had no intent to harm this young man."

School district spokesman Scott Ferguson said Green has gone through at least three training sessions since 2001 that should have included strategies for handling students with autism.

He was scheduled for training in crisis intervention next week.

The district does not have any specific training requirements for special education aides, Ferguson said, and leaves training decisions to teachers and principals.

The last training Green underwent was in 2003.

The autistic student's father, who did not want to be identified, said Friday he did not know all of the details of the case and believed it was still under investigation.

"In general I don't think that is the type of behavior they expect from a teacher," he said.

This story appeared in print on page BM1

Dozens of school bus drivers with criminal convictions transport

Dozens of school bus drivers with criminal convictions transport children to class each day, many with the state's approval, a Gannett New Jersey investigation has found.

Offenses for the persons convicted range from manslaughter to drug distribution to theft.

Of the 35 drivers found by Gannett New Jersey, three have had their bus driving endorsements revoked by the state Department of Education after the Press forwarded its list to authorities.

None of the banned drivers worked in Middlesex, Monmouth or Ocean counties.

The three drivers include a man convicted of manslaughter and two women convicted of endangering the welfare of a child.

The gap in background checks for school bus employees is so wide that one man with two prior drug convictions was hired as a bus aide by a Keansburg company to transport Middletown students. State officials said they were never told about the hire, and, as a result, no background check was ever run.

The aide, Parrish L. Jones, is now serving a 10-year prison term for giving a near-fatal dose of methadone to a 15-year-old on a school bus in 2006.

Of the 32 remaining bus drivers whose permits were not terminated because of prior convictions, state officials said none had offenses that would warrant taking them off school buses. The convictions included simple assault, gambling, weapons possession and official misconduct, according to a review of state court records.

Still, state education officials said that those with serious offenses shouldn't have escaped detection and that measures are being taken to close the loopholes that let Jones and others get on a school bus.

"The safety and security of our children are DOE's highest priorities, which is why we do these background checks in the first place," said Kathryn Forsyth, Department of Education spokeswoman. "It is simply unacceptable to us to have anyone slip
through the cracks, and when we find that someone has, we move quickly to make sure they are disqualified and fired."

Gannett New Jersey also found that 148 convicts received school bus driver licenses after their convictions, but that their permits have since expired, according to a review of bus drivers and state criminal court records for the last 15 years.

The drivers worked for both private bus companies and school districts that operated their own bus service.

State education officials, who are required by law to keep certain criminals from driving school children, said that the three terminated bus drivers fell through the cracks because of changes in the state's fingerprinting system.

"In these instances, we are obligated to take action," said Carl Carabelli, manager of the criminal history review unit for the education department. "Disqualification notices went out on Aug. 21, which said they are disqualified (from school employment) and should be terminated, and we sent notices to MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission) to revoke their school bus endorsement."

School bus drivers are supposed to be fingerprinted and go through criminal background checks every two years, when they renew their bus driver's license. But those safeguards, designed to reassure parents, don't always work, said Dr. Alan Ross, founder of the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, Connecticut.

Federal law prohibits individuals from driving a school bus who have been convicted of first- or second-degree crimes, such as murder and aggravated assault, and some third-degree theft offenses.

Middletown school bus aide Jones is a recent example of how a slip-up can cause a near death. Jones had two prior drug convictions in Monmouth County, but got a job as an aide for the Aberdeen-based Milu Bus Service.

Jones, 37, of Keansburg, was convicted of drug distribution in Monmouth County in 1992 and again in 1996. He was given a 364-day jail term in 1992 and a three-year prison sentence in 1996, according to public records.

Jones pleaded guilty to giving methadone a synthetic narcotic to a 15-year-old Middletown North High School student in October 2006. The boy nearly died from the overdose. Jones was sentenced last June to five to 10 years in prison.

Jones was hired for school employment despite his two prior drug convictions because his name was never submitted for a background check to the state by the bus company, Forsyth said. An education department audit revealed that the company also failed to submit other employees' names for background checks, she said.

"His name didn't go through the system. They were cited for noncompliance. They have to perform a corrective action plan," she said.

Education officials are putting together administrative procedures to fine any bus company that fails to submit workers names for background checks, Forsyth said.

"It is a shame that what happened in Middletown happened. I thank God the child was okay, it's one heck of an awakening for the township," said Maria Wheaton, parent of a student who graduated from Middletown North High School last year.

While Wheaton said she was satisfied with how the district handled the situation, she said she supports a bill introduced by state Sens. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, and Shirley Turner, D-Mercer.

The bill would require more frequent fingerprinting of all school employees and mandate that those fingerprints are kept on file. In June, it was approved by the Senate education committee and is waiting to be posted for a vote by the full Senate.

"That bill is a great idea, it should pass with flying colors," Wheaton said. "I think that any adult who works with school age children should definitely go through a thorough background check."

The three school bus drivers state officials said were disqualified are:

Cora Outlaw, 42, Newark, convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and sentenced to three years in prison in 1992. She was last approved for school employment in May 2007 in Essex County.

State education department officials said they initially found no disqualifying crimes on her record. Her endangerment conviction has since been verified, disqualifying her from driving a school bus.

Marba L. Morris, 50, Teaneck, was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and placed on two years' probation 1999. She was last approved for school employment in 2005 in Bergen County.

Bobby G. Allen, 54, of Vineland, convicted of manslaughter in 1992, was sentenced to 270 days in jail and four years' probation. He was approved for school employment in August 2006 in Vineland. Education department officials said the conviction wasn't on his record. After a new review of records, he was disqualified from school employment.

None of the drivers could be reached for comment.

The drivers can challenge the action by filing an administrative appeal with the department within 30 days, said Carabelli, of the education department's enforcement bureau. None has filed an appeal as of Thursday, Sept. 11.

How did those three drivers and others make it through the system?

In several cases, individuals uncovered by Gannett New Jersey slipped through the criminal background safety net because their fingerprints weren't kept on file by the state Bureau of Identification, Carabelli said.

In 12 other cases reviewed, the crimes weren't considered by the department to be disqualifying offense at the time they were convicted, Carabelli said.

All first- and second-degree offenses, such as homicides and major drug crimes, are disqualifying. A theft charge depends on the severity and the value of what was taken, Carabelli said. Some third-degree theft offenses also are considered disqualifying offenses, he said.

State officials determined that 10 drivers on the Gannett New Jersey's list would keep their license because the offenses they were convicted of weren't disqualifying under the law. They included weapons possession, interfering with custody of a child and witness tampering.

Four drivers on the list were convicted of lower offenses, such as disorderly persons and drug possession, which were not considered a disqualification at that time of arrest. But such offenses would bar them from obtaining a school bus driver's license now, Carabelli said.

The state criminal history review unit handles 70,000 background checks a year for all school employees and disqualifies an average of about 1 percent, Carabelli said. There are 25,000 school bus drivers authorized to drive students in the state, he said.

One problem identifying drivers with records is that until February 2003, the state Bureau of Identification didn't retain the physical fingerprints from background checks, said Forsyth, the spokeswoman for the education department.

"If they committed a crime, we didn't know unless we found out anecdotally or through the newspapers or if the police or prosecutor let us know a crime was committed," Forsyth said.

That database is "much more complete" and state education officials will know immediately if a bus driver or school employee is convicted or has a record, she said.

Legislation in the state Senate would require all school employees and applicants to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks every two years.

The bill, S110, also would require the education department and state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which tracks individual wage data, to compare databases to determine if a school employee has not undergone a criminal background check, or has been disqualified yet still works with students.

"The (education) department not only strongly supports this bill, we helped write it," Forsyth said. "As the people who administer the system, we knew where the problems were and what had to be addressed legislatively. We think this bill will significantly tighten the safety net."

"It expands our ability to make sure people don't fall through the cracks," Forsyth said. "All these pieces are filling holes."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Proposed Florida "Draft" Rule on "Use of Reasonable Force"

NOTE: We have obtained a copy of the FL Draft for the "Use of Reasonable Force" which is set for public comment until September 15, 2008. Please see our "Open Letter to the FL Dept of Education" for our stance on this "draft."

___________ Use of Reasonable Force by School Personnel DRAFT

(1) Reasonable Force is defined as appropriate physical response necessary to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment. Reasonable Force should be limited to the minimal force necessary to prevent undue harm or injury to the student(s) or others or significant damage to property. Reasonable Force should not be used as an instrument for the educator’s anger or frustration with a situation or student(s) and if possible should be used in a way that does not unduly impugn the dignity of the student(s).

(2) The use of reasonable force on a student or students is permitted to protect the student(s) and others from:
a. conditions harmful to learning,
b. conditions harmful to students’ mental health,
c. conditions harmful to students’ physical health,
d. conditions harmful to safety,
e. harm and/or injury, and/or
f. the significant damage of property

(3) Reasonable Force should not be excessive, cruel, or unusual in nature. When administered, reasonable force should be used with consideration of the following:
a. severity of offense(s) that elicited the use of force,
b. size and physical abilities of all parties,
c. mental and psychological abilities of the student(s),
d. patterns of behavior exhibited by the student(s) that precipitated the use of force,
e. potential dangers, physical and others, for using force
f. availability of assistance to control the situation without force, and
g. preventative or defusing action(s) taken prior to use of physical force.

(4) While use of reasonable physical force is permitted, alternatives should be attempted, if circumstances permit.

(5) Use of Reasonable Force should cease upon the restoration of a safe and orderly learning environment.

(6) Nothing in these recommendations should be construed as addressing state or local school board policy on corporal punishment.

(7) The use of force in an act or act(s) of self-defense should not be confused with the use of reasonable force as described herein.

(8) Restraint and seclusion techniques shall only be used when the student presents an imminent danger to himself or herself or others, or significant damage to property, and other less restrictive interventions have not or will not prevent danger or harm.

PA's Chapter 14 Regulations - Restraint and Seclusion Laws

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 14 Regulations which govern restraint and seclusion use in Pennsylvania schools.

§ 14.133. POSITIVE Behavior support.

(a) Positive, rather than negative, measures shall form the basis of behavior support programs to ensure that all students AND ELIGIBLE YOUNG CHILDREN shall be free from demeaning treatment and, THE USE OF aversive techniques or AND the inappropriate UNREASONABLE use of restraints. Behavior support programs SHALL include a variety of RESEARCH BASED PRACTICES AND techniques to develop and maintain skills that will enhance an individual student’s or ELIGIBLE young child’s opportunity for learning and self-fulfillment.



(i) Devices and techniques, that last longer than 30 consecutive seconds, designed and used to control acute [or], episodic [aggressive] behaviors [or to control involuntary movements or lack of muscular control due to organic causes or conditions. The term includes physical and mechanical restraints.], including aggressive or self injurious behaviors. Redirection or physical prompting as a teaching technique when a student does not exhibit active resistance is not considered a restraint. Devices, objects or techniques prescribed by a qualified medical professional for reasons of safety or for therapeutic or medical treatments are excluded from this definition.



(c) Restraints to control acute or episodic aggressive or self-injurious behavior may be used only when the student is acting in a manner as to be a clear and present danger to himself, to other students or to employees, and only when less restrictive measures and techniques have proven to be or are less effective. [The use of restraints to control the aggressive behavior of an individual student shall cause a meeting of the IEP team to review the current IEP for appropriateness and effectiveness. The use of restraints may not be included in the IEP for the convenience of staff, as a substitute for an educational program, or employed as punishment.]

(1) When there is evidence to suggest that the emergency use of restrictive procedures, such as restraints may be necessary to ensure a student’s safety or the safety of others, parental consent should be obtained. If a restrictive procedure is needed on an emergency basis, parents should be informed and consent for future uses be obtained within 10 school days following the need for the use of a restrictive procedure. The need for restrictive procedures for safety should be noted in the student’s IEP.


(2) The use of restraints to control the aggressive and self injurious behavior on the part of an individual student shall cause a meeting of the IEP team within 10 school days of the behavior causing the use of restraints unless the use of restraint was consistent with the explicit provisions of the existing IEP and that IEP remains current and appropriate for the student. At this meeting, the team shall consider whether the student needs a behavioral assessment, reevaluation, a new or revised behavior plan, or a change of placement to address the inappropriate behavior MAY ONLY BE INCLUDED IN A STUDENT’S OR ELIGIBLE YOUNG CHILD’S IEP WHEN:






(3) (4) The use of restraints may not be included in the IEP for the convenience of staff, as a substitute for an educational program, or employed as punishment.

(4) (5) School entities shall maintain and report data on the use of restraints as prescribed by the Secretary. THE REPORT SHALL BE REVIEWED DURING CYCLICAL COMPLIANCE MONITORING CONDUCTED BY THE DEPARTMENT.

Open Letter to FL Dept of Ed re "Use of Reasonable Force" Proposed Rule

Below please find a copy of an email we sent to the FL Dept of Education regarding their proposed "Use of Reasonable Force":

Dear Ms. Abbott:

I am contacting you today on behalf of The Coalition for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports to publicly comment on proposed rule 6A-6.05271 Standards for the Use of Reasonable Force.

Our organization works nationwide with various state legislators, educators, agencies, parents, families, advocates, and others concerned about the welfare of children to enact laws and policies to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, restraint, seclusion, and other abusive practices that are being used in place of positive behavioral interventions and supports for the convenience of school staff, rather than to keep children safe.

We were pleased when we read that Florida was considering adopting a formal policy for the Use of Reasonable Force. However, we are both disheartened and dismayed at the proposed rule 6A-6.05271 Standards for the Use of Reasonable Force.

While we agree with the Florida Department of Education that a rule needs to be written to specifically define what constitutes reasonable force, when reasonable force should be used, and how it should be used, and appreciate the time and effort that went into writing this draft, we are very concerned that children in Florida public schools will not be protected from abuse and/or misuse of “reasonable force.” Please allow us to share our concerns.

1) There is no ban on prone, or face down, restraints, which is illegal to use in most psychiatric treatment facilities across the nation, and is the most DEADLY type of "force."

Research indicates that prone restraints are extremely dangerous and have resulted in a multitude of deaths in a variety of settings across the country. The Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse maintains a database of restraint deaths, including the deaths of children in public schools, which can be accessed through this link: For this reason, prone restraints are banned in many psychiatric hospitals, and should NOT be used in public schools for any reason because of their lethality. Please understand: Many children have DIED from the use of prone restraints in schools, yet there is nothing in this proposed rule to forbid this practice in Florida schools despite the fact that research identifies other equally effective SAFER alternatives.

Unfortunately, reports have surfaced that indicate that Florida schools do not want to take the time or expend the effort to learn how to use safer alternatives unless specifically ordered to do so. For example, in December 2007, Families Against Restraint and Seclusion reported of a slide show one Palm Beach County School used publicly that "revealed" that without the use of prone restraints in schools, "the number of children being arrested would increase, children would be Baker Acted more frequently, student and staff injuries would increase, more school police would be involved, and students medication use and dosage would increase." There is no data to back up these allegations - though plenty of research to indicate the harm of prone restraints – yet educators in Florida WANT to be able to use a type of restraint on even the smallest of children that is known as the most likely form of restraint to KILL. To say we are very concerned about this is an understatement. We recommend, and strongly encourage, the Florida Department of Education amend the rule to include a ban on prone restraints.

2) There is no provision to monitor a child's physical and/or emotional well-being during the use of force.

Because of the dangers of the “use of force,” we recommend the rule be amended to include language that a nurse or other qualified personnel trained in CPR must be present during the use of force to ensure the child is not unduly injured or accidentally killed during the "force" and to document any injuries the child or staff incurred during the force.

3) There are no specific training requirements staff must undertake before using “reasonable force.”

This rule does not clearly outline what training, if any, staff must undergo before they are permitted to use “reasonable force.” To ensure the safety of educators and staff and all of their students, we recommend this rule be amended to include what type and how much training educators and staff must undergo before they are permitted to use “force.”

4) The language is subjective (up to discretion of staff using "force"), does not clearly identify WHEN to use reasonable force, and only indicates what “should” be done, not what “must be done; therefore this rule is unenforceable as written.

When writing and interpreting rules and laws, language is everything. In order for a rule, policy, or law to be effective, it must be clear and concise. Unfortunately, the language in this proposed rule is subjective, left up to the determination and interpretation of the educators and/or staff that would be employing said “force.”

For example, what specifically does "harmful to learning" mean? Whose learning is being harmed? Does getting up out of one's seat constitute harm to learning? Would THAT necessitate use of "reasonable force?"

The language needs to clearly state when and why reasonable force should be used; that it should only be used in an immediate emergency situation, when the child is an immediate threat of harm to self or others, and after other positive behavioral interventions have been attempted and failed. Without specific clarification, this rule is meaningless.

This rule also holds no weight as it does not specify what educators must do to keep themselves and the children they’re accountable for safe, only what they "should" consider doing. This puts the onus on educators and staff to determine when they should use force and how much force to use, and does not give them clear directions on the use of force. Rather, this proposed rule as written, could be interpreted as promoting abuse and protecting educators from allegations of misuse and/or abuse of "reasonable force," instead of providing guidance and support to educators as to when and how to use “force” so as to protect children.

Therefore, we recommend the rule be amended to clearly define all terms used in this draft, such as "reasonable force," "conditions harmful to learning," "conditions harmful to student's mental health," et. al., and that “should” be changed to “shall” or “must” when used to indicate what policies/procedures schools must follow; otherwise, abuse and/or misuse of "reasonable force" will not be discouraged or prevented.

5) This rule as written indicates “reasonable force” maybe be used when NOT an emergency.

Anytime a decision is made to use force, there is a significant risk that the child will be physically and/or emotionally injured or accidentally killed and/or the staff could be injured. Therefore, the decision to use force must not be made lightly, but must be made only when the child is a clear and present danger to self or others and only when other alternative methods have been attempted and failed. We recommend the rule be amended to include such language.

6) The "severity of the offense," “mental and psychological abilities of the student(s),” and/or “patterns of behavior,” dictates whether to use and/or the amount of force to use, rather than the minimal amount of force necessary to ensure safety.

The danger of this rule is that it permits educators to increase the amount of force used because of what the child has done or how many times a child has done something, or even by how much the child would be able to tell another responsible adult later, NOT because the child, or someone else, is in immediate danger. In other words, this rule PERMITS staff to abuse children with no recourse and must be reconsidered.

We recommend this provision be eliminated and/or replaced with language that clearly indicates the amount of force to be used is that which is the minimal amount of force necessary to prevent the child from harm to self or others and only used when in an emergency and after other interventions and supports have failed.

7) "Alternatives should be attempted, if circumstances permit," but do not HAVE to be attempted.

This rule as written allows that NO OTHER alternatives must EVER be considered, even if those alternatives, which generally are a little more time-consuming, are safer for the child and/or staff. Research has shown that positive behavioral interventions and supports rather than "reasonable force" is an effective way to reduce "undesirable behaviors" while keeping the child's dignity intact, in addition to "maintaining a safe learning environment."

A recent report from The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) entitled Effective Discipline for Student Success: Reducing Student and Teacher Dropout Rates in Alabama attributes the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as not only reducing the dropout rates for both students and teachers, but for improving the academic performance and overall school climates. Because of the success of the PBIS program, this report recommends that PBIS be implemented in EVERY Alabama public school. More information about this report can be found through the following link: ( The information in this report could be useful in further developing the proposed regulation for "The Use of Reasonable Force" to include language that supports positive behavioral interventions.

Therefore, we recommend the rule be rewritten to include language such that the use of force must ALWAYS be the last resort, used in an emergency situation, and only after other interventions and supports have failed.

8) "Reasonable force" should cease upon the restoration of "a safe and orderly learning environment," not as soon as the child no longer poses a threat to themselves or others.

Because the language is vague, how an educator or staff member defines “a safe and orderly learning environment” is subjective. The rule needs to clearly define what specifically a "safe and orderly learning environment” is.

To give an example of how this could be misconstrued, suppose a six-year-old child with autism has a "meltdown" due to "sensory overload." The child jumps out of the assigned seat and begins to pull all the books from their shelves, ripping them to shreds in the process, and is physically restrained to stop him/her from further destroying school property. Suppose also the educator or staff’s version of “order” means that until all the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, every single scrap of paper, dust, etc. is removed from the floor, all the desks are precisely in order, all of the other children quietly sitting in their seats, order will not have been restored. This rule as written would theoretically allow the educator or staff to keep the child restrained until the educator or staff’s version of “order” is restored. This could mean that child could be restrained for HOURS, or until such time as an educator deems the child’s “had enough.”

Again, because of the inherent dangers to both the child and educators and/or staff, we recommend the rule be rewritten to clearly indicate that the use of force must be stopped as soon as the child is no longer a danger to self or others.

9) There is no provision to protect children with disabilities from "punishment" due to behaviors resulting as a manifestation of their disability.

This rule as written is discriminatory towards children with disabilities and violates IDEA in that there is no written provision to protect children with disabilities from being punished for behaviors (or patterns of behaviors) that are a manifestation of their disability.

Children with disabilities, especially those with communication impairments, may have no other choice but to use their "behaviors" to communicate pain, unmet needs, frustration, etc. Behaviors could include screaming, pushing a book off a desk and onto the floor, getting up from one’s seat when “not permitted to do so,” “elopement” from the classroom, self-stimulatory behavior, self-injury, etc. Any or all of these behaviors could fall into the categories of “harmful to learning,” “harmful to student’s mental health,” et. al. Therefore, children with disabilities may be unfairly “punished” for "behavioral issues" that could very well be a direct manifestation of their disability.

When given alternative means to communicate as well as using positive behavioral interventions and supports "behaviors" do not escalate to the point where "reasonable force" is the only alternative. Children with disabilities are far more frequently the recipients of “reasonable force” and are more likely to be abused.

Research indicates that when children are given alternative ways to communicate, and are positively rewarded for "positive" (more appropriate) behaviors, their behavior improves. Research also indicates when staff is given appropriate training into positive behavioral interventions and supports, including verbal de-escalation techniques and hands-free holds, their use of “reasonable force” decreases.

Therefore, we recommend this rule be rewritten to clarify that children with disabilities may not be punished for behaviors that are a manifestation of their disability.

10) There are no reporting or documentation requirements outlined in this rule.

Parents of children with disabilities, especially children whose communication is impaired, rely on the honesty and open communication from the educators and staff who work with their children in the educational setting. However, this under the provisions of this rule as written, if "force" is used on a child, educators are under no obligation to notify the parents of said child. For a child that has communication impairment, this type of requirement is the only way the parents of such a child will know what is happening to their child.

Advocacy organizations, such as ours, have been lobbying for safer alternatives to restraint and seclusion use, and many states are heeding their calls. Many states are now implementing policies to reduce and/or eliminate restraints and "reasonable force" in psychiatric treatment facilities, hospitals, and other settings, and consider the use of such aversives as "treatment failures."

Where such policies are in place, these policies are extremely specific and are carried out by highly trained staff who must maintain explicit documentation. Even so, adult and child patients have died from such techniques. If such egregious and irreversible mistakes are made on adults and children in psychiatric hospitals by such highly trained personnel, how will these proposed regulations protect children in public schools from the same fate? Unfortunately, without major changes, the answer is, they won't.

Pennsylvania is one state that is on the forefront of restraint reduction and ultimate elimination in psychiatric treatment facilities. Those efforts are expanding to include public schools. Their primary methods for reducing said usage has been through state policy changes, changing the culture both internally and externally about the use of restraints, by improving staff training in the areas of crisis management and non-offensive skill development that reinforces verbal de-escalation techniques, improved data collection and transparency, increased used of behavioral support strategies, the creation of a highly trained emergency response team, and an increase in the quality and/or quantity of treatment.

Below please find a copy of the PA Chapter 14 Regulations, Section 14.133, entitled Positive Behavior Support, which is PA’s policy for aversive use in public schools. These regulations are far from perfect (We would have preferred to see parental notification much sooner than 10 days and more transparency with restraint log reviews, as well as the creation of an independent review panel, for example), but they can serve as a guideline for Florida. We have attached the original version along with the amendments, so you can see how these regulations have evolved.

Thank you for allowing us to share our concerns. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at


Jennifer Searcy
Founder/Director of Public Policy and Affairs
The Coalition for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

NOTE: See PA Chapter 14 Regulations

Former Federal Way teacher charged with molestation

From the Seattle Times:

A former Federal Way teacher convicted of child abuse over a year ago was charged today with child molestation.

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - Page updated at 03:47 PM

A former Federal Way elementary school teacher with a prior conviction for fondling a student was charged today with first-degree child molestation in a separate case.

Scott Michael Riley, 53, is accused of fondling a 10-year-old relative when the girl was 4 or 5, according to charging documents filed in King County Superior Court. The incident came to light after Riley admitted the fondling to a therapist, court papers said.

Riley was seeing a sexual deviancy therapist as part of treatment mandated after he pleaded guilty in 2007 to fourth-degree assault of a student. Riley, who fondled an 11-year-old girl in his music class at Twin Lakes Elementary School in Federal Way, received a one-year suspended sentence and two years of probation and was ordered to undergo the sexual-deviancy treatment.

Teacher Accused of Giving Students Cocaine

Contributor: Kanika Ware Last Update: 8/27 8:42 am

A former teacher is behind bars for allegedly distributing cocaine to students from Thomas S. Wooton High School.

Montgomery County police sat 44-year-old Theresa Cunningham Duarte gave cocaine to students more than once from her Rockville home. She was charged Monday with two counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance and two counts of contributing to conditions of a child.

Police say Duarte was a substitute teacher at Einstein High School in Kensington for the 2003-04 school year. She became a full-time teacher at Wooton High School in Rockville in July 2004.

She resigned from that post at the end of last school year, for unknown reasons.

Authorities say there may be other students who received illegal drugs from Duarte.

Officials: Deputy Shocks Girl, 11, With Taser At Elementary School


Girl, Deputy Taken To Hospital
POSTED: 10:34 am EDT March 27, 2008
UPDATED: 5:57 am EDT March 28, 2008

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- An Orange County sheriff's deputy on Thursday shocked an 11-year-old girl with a Taser gun at an elementary school after the girl punched her in the face, authorities said.

The altercation happened during announcements at Moss Park Elementary School, located at 9301 N. Shore Golf Club Blvd. in Orlando, Orange County school officials said.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the girl, identified as Thaliamar Jiminez by Local 6 News, pushed another student into oncoming traffic, and the student who was pushed reported the incident to a teacher.

The teacher approached Jiminez, but the 11-year-old ignored the teacher and walked to her homeroom class, according to the sheriff's office.

The homeroom teacher also tried to talk to Jiminez, who became agitated and began to shove her desk and chair, Orange County sheriff's deputies said. Jiminez was asked to go to the office but refused and yelled and spit at the teachers, deputies said.

The school resource officer, Orange County sheriff's Deputy Donna Hudepohl was called to remove Jiminez, who pushed Hudepohl and punched her in the face, causing her nose to bleed, according to the sheriff's office.

Hudepohl attempted to secure Jiminez, but she continued to fight, so Hudepohl shocked her with her Taser gun, the sheriff's office said.

Hudepohl was transported to Florida Hospital East and treated for a bruised sinus cavity, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Jiminez was also taken to Florida Hospital East to have the Taser prongs removed, but she was not injured, deputies said.

Jiminez was arrested and faces charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, disrupting a school function and resisting with violence.

Jiminez was transported to the Juvenile Detention Center.

Texas school district letting teachers carry guns

From the Associated Press:

Aug 15, 2008

HARROLD, Texas (AP) — A tiny Texas district will allow teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings when classes begin this month, provided the gun-toting employees follow certain requirements.

The small community of Harrold in north Texas is a 30-minute drive from the Wilbarger County Sheriff's Office, leaving students and teachers without protection, said David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District. The lone campus of the 110-student district sits near a heavily traveled highway, which could make it a target, he argued.

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in a story published Friday on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Web site.

Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said her organization did not know of another district with such a policy. Ken Trump, a Cleveland-based school security expert who advises districts nationwide, said Harrold is the first district with such a policy.

Trustees approved the policy change last year. For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations; and must [use] ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

Officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change, Thweatt said. The district also has other measures in place to prevent a school shooting, he said.

"The naysayers think (a shooting) won't happen here. If something were to happen here, I'd much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them," Thweatt said.

Texas law outlaws firearms at schools unless specific institutions allow them.

It isn't clear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers.

San Jose teacher accused of teaching class while intoxicated

From Mercury


By Mark Gomez and Sean Webby Mercury News
Article Launched: 09/02/2008 02:10:27 PM PDT

A teacher at Schallenberger Elementary School in San Jose is on leave pending further investigation into reports that she was "intoxicated while in a classroom," according to police and school officials.

According to police, when the teacher arrived at school Friday morning, her colleagues became concerned that she was inebriated. Her fellow teachers notified school officials, who in turn called San Jose police. Officers who interviewed the teacher did not detect any obvious smell of alcohol but noticed the woman had slurred speech and was stumbling. The woman was given a chemical test and registered more than twice the legal limit of .08, according to police.

The teacher, whose name was not released by police or school officials, was not arrested. A school administrator took the woman home.

In California, it is a misdemeanor to be under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, drug or controlled substance in a condition that leaves someone unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others.

Karen Fuqua, a spokeswoman for the San Jose Unified School District, did not reveal many more details. She did say that "the classroom has been secured by a substitute teacher, the kids are great, and the superintendent came by to check on everyone."

Angelic Ruiz, the second-year principal at Schallenberger Elementary, said the teacher is out on leave pending further investigation.

Ruiz would not say what grade the woman teaches, adding that she is "trying to uphold the privacy of the teacher" and balance the safety of the children.