Saturday, September 22, 2012

Restraint and Seclusion: Updates

Howard County school officials are investigating an incident involving an 11-year-old autistic boy who was handcuffed by police officers on a school bus after he allegedly bit several adults and students.
The child, who does not speak and has limited social skills, according to his mother, was being transported from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, which accepts students whose severe learning disabilities require specialized education not provided by public school systems.
Perhaps the most notorious recent incident is the "therapy bag" case in KentuckyAP reports:
Some Kentucky school superintendents are expressing concerns about a proposed state regulation on the use of student restraint.
Pendleton County Schools Superintendent Anthony Strong told The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/RIsuqJ) that the proposal is too vague. He says employee expectations need to be defined better.
"There appears to be subjectivity as to when the staff member should intervene," said Strong. "There is a huge question as to where the line is."
Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross says the proposal is still in draft form and wording could be changed. A public hearing on the issue will be held Tuesday in Frankfort.
The issue came to the forefront late last year after state officials received three complaints about students being restrained or confined alone in small rooms. The department cited two schools for violating the rights of disabled students who were subjected to such treatment.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/09/21/2345175/superintendents-concerned-about.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/09/21/2345175/superintendents-concerned-about.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/09/21/2345175/superintendents-concerned-about.html#storylink=cpy
In Massachusetts, the Lexington Patch reports on Robert Ernst, a 17-year-old student with ASD:
According to him and his mother, Wendy Ernst, Robert was put on an individualized education program (IEP) since pre-school, but wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until fifth grade. During the intervening years is when, according to the family, Robert was shut in a seclusion room and physically restrained on several occasions by teachers and aids at the Fiske and Estabrook elementary schools.
The Ernst family decided to share Robert’s story last week, after allegations of the mistreatment of special needs students and use of seclusion rooms in the Lexington Public Schools were thrust into the spotlight by a former Lexington resident’s op-ed in the New York Times. Going public is something family members said they wouldn’t have done otherwise, but which they hope will bring awareness to the community and closure to the family.
“I hope this starts with people becoming aware that these things can happen, and stop wearing those rose-colored glasses,” said Robert, “Because these things have happened in our town.”
Allegations of abuse within the special education system in the Lexington Public Schools came to the fore last week when former resident Bill Lichtenstein shared the story of his daughter’s “seclusion room” experiences while a kindergartner at Fiske during the 2005-2006 school year.
A second story emerged during a School Committee meeting last Tuesday, and the following daydistrict administrators asked the state Department of Children and Families to conduct an investigation into those cases. The Ernst family has asked for Robert’s case to be included, but as of Wednesday evening had not definitively heard back about its inclusion.
In Wilmington, NC, the StarNews reports:
New Hanover County Schools' use of seclusion rooms to deal with students' aggressive behavior does not violate North Carolina law, according to Rick Holliday, assistant superintendent for support services.

On Aug. 27, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) completed an investigation into the district's seclusion rooms that was opened in February. The inquiry found that the district had no compliance issues with N.C.'s Greenblatt Act, which gives schools strategies, such as seclusion rooms, to deal with students' aggressive behavior.
The paper then followed up:
Sara Reider, mother of two special-needs students in New Hanover County, spoke to the board during the public comment section at Tuesday's meeting. She said that while OCR found no violations against one student, it did find larger violations during the course of its investigation.
On Aug. 27, OCR completed an investigation into the district's seclusion rooms that was opened in February. The inquiry found that the district had no compliance issues with N.C.'s Greenblatt Act, which gives schools strategies, such as seclusion rooms, to deal with students' aggressive behavior.
The investigation stemmed from a two-fold complaint filed in January by parents of a 5-year-old special education student. The complaint alleged that the student was being placed in a seclusion room and forced to stay inside and that the district was only using its seclusion rooms for students with disabilities.
Reider cited what she said was OCR's report on the investigation during her comments to the board. A StarNews request for the official report through the Office for Civil Rights is pending.