Friday, December 20, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
The IEP team must look at retrospective data, such aspast regression and rate of recoupment (which is based on data taken before and after school holidays/breaks) and also on predictive data, based on the opinion of professionals in consultation with you, the child’s parents / grandparents / legal guardians, as well as circumstantial considerations of your child’s individual situation at home and in hisor her neighborhood and community.
Happy holidays to you and your families,Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
New Case - Charter School in Contempt, Must Pay $176,722! - Pursuant to the "stay-put / pendency" statute (20 USC 1415(f)), on November 4, 2013, the United States District Court of Arizona held the "tuition-free, public charter" Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy in contempt of Court and ordered them to pay $176,722.00 for the child's private placement by November 15, 2013 or face further sanctions. (Click here for ruling of Contempt and Order to pay.)
While the child was enrolled in the charter school, the parent contested the IEP, removed the child to a private placement and requested a due process hearing. The Administrative Law Judge ruled in their favor. The school appealed and the parent's attorney, Hope Kirsch filed a Counterclaim. (Click here for Counterclaim). The Charter School asserted that they could not afford to pay. The Court noted that their problem is "an allocation of resources problem, not an absence of resources." We will keep you posted.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training
Friday, November 15, 2013
Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center
5655 West Valencia Road
Tucson, AZ 85757
One-day special education law and advocacy programs focus on four areas:
- special education law, rights and responsibilities
- tests and measurements to measure progress & regression
- SMART IEPs
- introduction to tactics & strategies for effective advocacyA day-long hands-on special education workshop designed to meet the needs of parents and professionals serving children and teens with disabilities.
Topics: IDEA history and overview, special education and related services, child find, least restrictive environment, extended school year, mainstream, inclusion, understanding tests and assessments, procedural safeguards, Section 504, prior written notice, and IEPs.
8:00-9:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast 9:00-10:30 Introductions
- IDEA History and Overview
- Section 1400 Findings, Purpose
- Section 1401 Definitions: Special Education, Related Services, LD, etc.
10:30-10:45 Break 10:45-12:00
- Section 1412 Extended School Year, Child Find, Least Restrictive Environment/Mainstreaming/Inclusion, Private Placements, Statewide Assessments
- Understanding Tests and Measurements, and the Bell Curve, Standard Scores, Scale Scores, % ranks, Grade Equivalent, Age Equivalent
12:00-1:00 Lunch 1:00-2:30
The Parent as the Special Ed Manager and Expert
- Section 1414 Evaluations and IEPs
- Section 1415 Prior Written Notice, Procedural Safeguards Notice, Mediation, Due Process Hearing, Appeal, Discipline, Age of Majority
- Section 504, ADA, FERPA
- NCLB No Child Left Behind
- Litigation: Special Ed Caselaw
- S.M.A.R.T. IEPs
- Special Ed Advocacy for the Parent, Advocate, and Parent’s Attorney
- Legal, systemic and “school culture” obstacles to compliance with IDEA-04
- Developing the Master Plan
- Knowing the Rules of the Game
- Recognizing and Avoiding the Fatal Obstacles
- How to Deal with Conflict, a Healthy and Normal event
- Crisis, Emergency, Help
- Organization of the Child’s File
2:30-2:45 Break 2:45-4:00
- Tactics and Strategies
- Rule of Adverse Assumptions
- Private Evaluations
- Paper Trails
- The Letter to the Stranger
- 5 Ws + H + E
- Preparation for Meetings
- Meeting Strategies
4:00-4:30 Questions and Answers
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
The Day My Son Went Missing
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
KGK wins another Due Process Complaint. The issue in this case was the appropriateness of one special education school over another. The parents disputed a charter school's selection of a private school. The charter school claimed that the school where it wanted to place the child was the same as the school the parents requested. The Administrative Law Judge did not agree with the charter school. The judge found that the private special ed school the parents requested was appropriate for the student, and the one the charter school selected was not. So while schools can select location, the location/school must be appropriate for that child; it must be able to provide the student with a FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education). Not all private special ed schools are the same. So while the private school the charter school selected is appropriate for other students, it is not appropriate for this particular student.
Read the full decision Pointe Educational Services.
Congratulations Lori Kirsch-Goodwin!!!!!!!!
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
KGK's Hope Kirsch has been invited to speak at the CLE Program:
From the Trenches: Stories and Practical Tips From Those on the Bullying Front Lines
Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, AZ
Friday, October 11, 2013
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
This Program will give young lawyers insight into the issues and struggles faced by attorneys and other participants in representing juvenile clients in bullying cases. Speaking from first-hand experience, Program panelists will share their “war stories” in representing and/or interacting with children involved in bullying cases and discuss the particular challenges in working with juvenile clients in the bullying context. Panelists will also provide young lawyers tips and guidance when representing juvenile clients in bullying cases. In recognition of the fact that bullying cases present more than just legal challenges, Panelists will also focus on emotional, psychological, developmental, and school-related issues that may be present and how to deal with them. This Program will arm young lawyers with the tools and background needed to fully comprehend the complexity of bullying cases, and to enable them to better serve juvenile clients in bullying cases.
Presented by the: YLD Public Service Team
Moderator: Casey Kannenberg, Godfrey Johnson, P.C., Englewood, CO
Lee Bussart Bowles, Tennessee General Sessions Court Judge, Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, Lewisburg, TN
Hope N. Kirsch, Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, P.C., Scottsdale, AZ
Saturday, September 21, 2013
The video explains the underlying differences in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and suggests strategies teachers/educators (and parents) for increasing the success of these children in school.
We highly recommend this,
Hope Kirsch & Lori Kirsch-Goodwin
Sunday, September 15, 2013
- Is your child struggling to understand?
- Is your child struggling with homework?
- Is your child failing quizzes and tests?
- Is your child fighting in school?
- Is the school complaining about your child's behavior?
- Is the teacher reporting your child is not paying attention?
- Is the teacher telling you that your child is not turning in homework?
If you answer YES to any of the above questions, OR is you have any reason to believe your child is having any difficulty or any issues in school or if you have any concerns, the school should be offering to test your child (that's the obligation of all school districts and charter schools in Arizona under CHILD FIND). But if the school has not told you it needs to evaluate your child, then do not wait. Be proactive. Ask the school to evaluate whether your child needs special education and related services. How do you ask, and who do you ask? Send an e-mail to the special education director (find the email address on the website for the school district) and the Principal and your child's teacher.
The first step to determine if your child actually requires special education is an assessment - an evaluation. An assessment /evaluation is the process of gathering information about your child to make decisions about a potential disability category, strengths, weaknesses and areas of need. Testing may be in the areas of academic functioning, cognitive functioning, behavior, speech and language, fine motor, gross motor, auditory and/or visual processing, sensory processing, social-emotional, neuropsychological, executive functioning skills (attention, organization), memory, etc.
The School District or Charter School will perform the assessments, but parents may ask for an INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION (IEE), at the expense of the school district or charter school, if the parents do not agree with the results. If you, as parents or guardians, pay for a private assessment and submit the results to the school district/charter school, the school district/charter school must consider the results. The school district/charter school is not obligated or required to accept those results, but is must consider them.
If your child is found to have a disability, that is only the first step toward determining if he or she needs special education. The next step is whether your child needs special education to access the general education curriculum. For example, a child with ADHD may not necessarily require special education (an IEP) and may merely require accommodations via a 504 plan.
The important question is what your child needs to receive benefit from the curriculum being taught? Make certain you understand your child's needs, as well as your legal rights to help your child. Make sure you understand the difference between an IEP / special education and a 504 Plan. Your child is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under both.
For more information, visit www.azspecialeducationlawyers.com.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
A.T., Student, by and through Parents A.T. and H.T. vs. POINTE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
You can learn more about the book at www.bobbycollins.com
In a 2013 interview on Hallmark Channel, Bobby shares his experiences and his tremendous journey and life.
Thank you Bobby for all you do!
Your friends Hope and Lori at Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Autism Spectrum Disorders and School Law
Presented by Hope Kirsch and Lori-Kirsch-Goodwin
$329 / Each Additional
Includes Downloadable Course Book
Program DescriptionPractical Application of Legal Concepts Impacting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Supporting the achievement of special needs children is the ultimate goal of attorneys, parents and professionals involved in education. Yet the area of special education law can be clouded with emotion and conflict. How do high-functioning autistic (HFA) students fit into the special education law framework? Join our distinguished faculty for a dynamic discussion on the challenges parents' advocates, school attorneys and representatives face when striving to accommodate special needs students. Find the answers to your questions - register today!
Who Should AttendThis basic-to-intermediate level program offers an in-depth look at the legal and practical implications of autism spectrum disorders for attorneys. It will also benefit special education teachers, school administrators, and counselors or psychologists.
Continuing Education Credit
Continuing Legal Education
Credit Hrs State
CLE 6.00 - AK*
CLE 6.00 - AL*
CLE 6.00 - AR*
CLE 6.00 - AZ*
CLE 6.00 - CA*
CLE 7.00 - CO*
CLE 6.00 - CT*
CLE 6.00 - DE*
CLE 7.00 - FL*
CLE 6.00 - GA*
CLE 6.00 - HI*
CLE 6.00 - IA*
CLE 6.00 - ID*
CLE 6.00 - IL*
CLE 6.00 - IN*
CLE 5.00 - KS*
CLE 6.00 - KY*
CLE 6.00 - LA*
CLE 6.00 - ME*
CLE 6.00 - MN*
CLE 7.20 - MO*
CLE 6.00 - MP*
CLE 6.00 - MS*
CLE 6.00 - MT*
CLE 6.00 - NC*
CLE 6.00 - ND*
CLE 6.00 - NE*
CLE 6.00 - NH*
CLE 7.20 - NJ*
CLE 6.00 - NM*
CLE 6.00 - NV*
CLE 7.00 - NY*
CLE 6.00 - OH*
CLE 7.00 - OK*
CLE 6.50 - OR*
CLE 6.00 - PA*
CLE 7.00 - RI*
CLE 6.00 - SC*
CLE 6.00 - TN*
CLE 6.00 - TX*
CLE 6.00 - UT*
CLE 6.00 - VA*
CLE 7.20 - VI*
CLE 6.00 - VT*
CLE 6.00 - WA*
CLE 7.00 - WI*
CLE 7.20 - WV*
CLE 6.00 - WY*
* denotes specialty credits
Friday, July 26, 2013
Technology Developed to Diagnose Autism Disorder
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
If the IEP team discusses any decision ESY before the spring, and says your child does not qualify for ESY, ask what data was collected, and ask to see the data. It is virtually impossible to make an informed decision during the first half of the school year that a child will not need ESY the following summer.
The date should be be related to all goals in your child's IEP -- not just academic, but functional, social, and behavioral as well, and the goals for related services.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
ADAAA Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act
ADE Arizona Department of Education
ALJ Administrative Law Judge
BIP Behavior Intervention Plan
DD Developmental Disability
DP Due Process
DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th revision
ED Emotional Disability
ESY Extended School Year
FAPE Free and Appropriate Public Education
FBA Functional Behavioral Assessment
FERPA Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
IAEP or IAES Interim Alternative Educational Placement/Setting
ID Intellectual Disability
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEE Independent Educational Evaluation
IEP Individualized Education Program
IFSP Individualized Family Service Plan
ISS In-School Suspension
LEA Local Educational Agency
LOS Level of Service
LRE Least Restrictive Environment
MDR Manifestation Determination Review
MET Multidisciplinary Education Team
OAH Office of Administrative Hearings
OCR Office of Civil Rights
ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OHI Other Health Impaired
RED Review of Existing Data
SEA State Educational Agency
SLD Specific Learning Disability
SLI Speech and Language Impaired
SPED Special Education
VI Visually Impaired
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Note, the law requires a student to be in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE), and for some students, the LRE may be an RTC.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
S1450 SCHOOL DISTRICTS; FERPA VIOLATIONS; PENALTY
Monday, July 1, 2013
New York Times-Autism Stigma in the Korean Community
Friday, June 28, 2013
Bring a Brown Bag Lunch & Please Join Us!
Guest Presenters: Hope N. Kirsch, Esq. & Lori Kirsch-Goodwin, Esq.
The presentation will begin with an overview of the federal special education law, “Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act” (IDEIA), state law and notable case law decisions interpreting the legislation.
The presentation will also address:
• The rights of students with special needs in public and charter schools
• Whether a student is entitled to IDEIA protections at private schools
• Requirements of FAPE (free and appropriate public education)
• LRE (least restrictive environments)
• Evaluations and reevaluations
• The IEP itself
• Timeline and discipline procedures
• Other laws (No Child Left Behind, FERPA)
Helpful hints will also be provided that most parents do not know about and schools might not clearly inform the parents about.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Campus for Exceptional Children
300 N. 18th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006
$20 per person
$15/per person when registering as a group of 2 or more
Arizona Autism Coalition Parent Members: You are eligible for a 20% discount using a discount code provided by the Coalition. For more information about the Coalition and this discount program, please visit their website at www.azautism.org or contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For purchase order payments, please send P.O. to email@example.com.
Contact & Registration:
For additional details, please contact Sheri Dollin at (480) 603-3284
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Pro Surfer Israel Paskowitz Uses His Unique Expertise to Help Autistic Children
It was a summer day in 1969 on Tourmaline Canyon Beach in San Diego, when Israel “Izzy” Paskowitz fell in love with surfing. He was 6 when his father, legendary surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, took him out to ride together on his board. “I will never forget that wave,” says Izzy, “it was my kick off into the tribe.” Considered the first family of surfing, Izzy is the fourth of nine children of Doc and Juliette. They lived a nomadic life in a 24-foot camper and traveled the country for roughly 23 years.
By the time of Izzy’s first surfing experience, Doc, a Stanford graduate and a doctor, had left his career to fulfill his love of travel, family and surfing. Doc believed true wisdom did not come from formal education but from life experience and surfing. The family’s journey is the subject of the acclaimed documentary film, "Surfwise."
Izzy naturally became a pro surfer. In 1983 he beat legends of the sport and soon became a world champion long-boarder. He won national and international events, including Australia’s Coke Classic Championship and the Hang Ten Classic. At the height of his career he landed a Nike cover ad standing next to Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi.
“With my beautiful wife, Danielle, by my side, I felt invincible, like I was king of the world, “ Izzy recalls. But then their second child, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age 3. “It took me a long time to accept his condition, to even say the word 'autism.' I had the dreams of any professional athlete: that my son would be just like dad, and it wasn’t looking like that.” Izzy ran from reality and continued to travel, drink heavily and surf professionally until Danielle gave him an ultimatum: Come home to take care of his son or leave the family for good.
A contest in Hawaii in 1996 inspired the greatest and most rewarding endeavor of Izzy’s life. Isaiah, then 5, was having an uncontrollable tantrum on the beach due to sensory overload, a symptom of autism. He took Isaiah in the ocean and they paddled out together on his board through the waves, just as his father had done with him. “A calm came over him. He was loose and relaxed, and genuinely happy,” says Izzy. “He was a regular boy out there doing what I always dreamed of doing with him.”
IMG_3134From this magical moment, Izzy and Danielle founded Surfers Healing, a free, one-day surf camp in which professional surfers take out children with autism. Today, Surfers Healing gives 3,000 kids a year in 22 camps across the country the opportunity to feel the same calm and joy Isaiah felt.
“I am not going to find a cure,” says Izzy. “But I do know now that I can ride waves with autistic kids and we are not going to charge a penny for it. These are the best days in my life.”
Monday, June 17, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Phoenix Airport Marriott
1101 North 44th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85008
With the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, professionals working with special needs children know that an understanding of special education law is crucial. You need to know the law in order to deal with complex questions that arise on a regular basis. Who pays when a special needs child is placed in private schooling at the parents' election? How can a school create the least restrictive environment and promote inclusion to the best interests of all students? It can be costly if you don't know. Register today!
•Strengthen your knowledge of how recent special education legislation affects school policies and operation.
•Evaluate the legal protection offered by the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
•Successfully handle disciplinary actions for students with disabilities.
•Explore the role of manifestation determination reviewing the legality of disciplinary actions.
•Understand the rights of special needs students so you can avoid inadvertent illegal actions that may lead to a lawsuit.
Who Should Attend
This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed specifically for professionals who work with children with special needs in the school setting. Those who should attend include:
I.Establishing the Framework of Special Education Law
II.Unraveling the Requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
III.Successfully Handling Disciplinary Actions for Special Needs Students
IV.Ensuring Successful Due Process Procedures
V.Protecting the Rights of Children With Special Needs
Continuing Education Credit
Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00
International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.60
Teacher Education Credit – Teacher Education Credit: 6.00
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Phoenix Airport Marriott1101 North 44th StreetPhoenix, AZ 85008
This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed specifically for professionals who work with students with special needs.
- Establishing the Framework of Special Education Law
- Unraveling the Requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Successfully Handling Disciplinary Actions for Special Needs Students
- Ensuring Successful Due Process Procedures
- Protecting the Rights of Children With Special Needs
Friday, May 3, 2013
Who can ask for an evalution?
- A teacher or school administrator
- A parent
- A medical or health care provider of the child (a doctor, a therapist)
· Failing or noticeably declining grades.
· Poor or noticeably declining progress on standardized assessments (AIMS tests, for example)
· Behaviors that cause the student to stand out, negatively, from his peers.
· Minimal progress in RTI process.
· Only slight benefits from accommodations in a Section 504 plan.
· Numerous or increasing disciplinary referrals.
· Signs of depression, withdrawal, inattention.
· Increasing unexcused absences.
· A history of being hospitalized.
· A diagnosis under DSM-IV (or the upcoming DSM-V).
· Being seen by an outside service provider, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Monday, April 22, 2013
BEGINNING IN SCHOOL YEAR 2013-2014, DISCIPLINARY POLICIES FOR THE CONFINEMENT OF PUPILS LEFT ALONE IN AN ENCLOSED SPACE. THESE POLICIES SHALL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
(a) A PROCESS FOR PRIOR WRITTEN PARENTAL NOTIFICATION THAT CONFINEMENT MAY BE USED FOR DISCIPLINARY PURPOSES THAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PUPIL'S ENROLLMENT PACKET OR ADMISSION FORM.
(b) A PROCESS FOR PRIOR WRITTEN PARENTAL CONSENT BEFORE CONFINEMENT IS ALLOWED FOR ANY PUPIL IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.
THE POLICIES SHALL PROVIDE FOR AN EXEMPTION TO PRIOR WRITTEN PARENTAL CONSENT IF A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL OR TEACHER DETERMINES THAT THE PUPIL POSES IMMINENT PHYSICAL HARM TO SELF OR OTHERS. THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL OR TEACHER SHALL MAKE REASONABLE ATTEMPTS TO NOTIFY THE PUPIL'S PARENT OR GUARDIAN IN WRITING BY THE END OF THE SAME DAY THAT CONFINEMENT WAS USED.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Conference-Bullying & Autism: What We Know & What We Can Do About It
This two day conference is designed to engage school faculty, families, professionals, administrators, policymakers, and others with an interest in this topic:
Current research, issues & prevalence
How to support a change in behavior as the bully,victim or bystander
How to include kids with ASDs in bullying programming
Bullying & Autism Spectrum Disorders: What is known from the research, prevalance, and relationship between ASDs, bullying & victimization; what this means; why kids with ASDs are targets of bullies or the bully
Bully Prevention in Positive Behavior Support: From Research to Practice:Building effective and efficient bully prevention programs that are sustainable
Legal Issues & Current Policies in Arizona: Jennifer MacLennan, a lawyer representing schools, & Hope Kirsch, a lawyer representing families, together will address legal and ethical issues on bullying as it relates to the bully, victim, & school.
How to Adapt Anti-Bullying Programs & Supports for Individuals with ASDs: How to adapt interventions to teach kids with learning differences to understand bullying & how to respond to bullying as a victim, bystander, or the bully
The Impact of Bystanders & Bullying: This presentation will address the role of the bystander; how to teach safe & effective responses to bullying for those at all levels of support
A Case Study: How A Middle School Implemented A Bully Prevention Program: Using evidence-based strategies, a principal & her team will share how their school addressed bullying
Dates: April 26 & 27, 2013
Cost:Registration (before April 15) $35/day $50/two days
Late Registration (April 15 or later) $50/day $70/two days
Scottsdale Public Library Civic Center Auditorium
3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
ASHA CE's: Day 1 .6 CEU's Day 2: .5 CEU's
BACB CE's: Day 1 6.5 CEU's Day 2: 5 CEU's
For complete details on this conference, go to http://www.rsvpbook.com/event.php?571857.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
By Amy Harmon
Jack didn’t really like kissing. To him it was just mashing your face against someone else’s. Kirsten didn’t like being caressed. Such is love between two people with Asperger syndrome. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times correspondent Amy Harmon chronicles with humor and pathos the ups and downs of two teenagers as they work to figure out how to live together.
The Noyes family sued the district after discovering their child was put in a "seclusion room" for hours without their knowledge.
The case sparked new legislation, forcing schools to get written approval from parents before they used the rooms.
That's not the only way schools can punish students if they're acting out.
According to the Center for Effective Discipline, Arizona is one of 19 states still allows corporal punishment.
"Right now, according to the Arizona legislature, corporal punishment is allowed," said Hope Kirsch, a lawyer representing the Noyes.
While the family's lawsuit shed light on seclusion rooms, it did not fully protect students from corporal punishment.
That's because Arizona leaves it up to each district's governing board.
"Every governing board can have a policy on corporal punishment. In other words, you can have corporal punishment. There's no prohibition against it," said Kirsch.
Kirsch said, effectively, it's up to the parents to call their district and ask exactly how their child's school disciplines students.
The purpose of the report is to describe and analyze state restraint and seclusion statutes, regulations, and nonbinding guidelines, and includes maps and charts on the various issues. Please feel free to forward or share this information.
The report finds that:
- Only 12 states by law limit restraint of all children to emergencies threatening physical danger for all children; 17, limit restraint of children with disabilities in this way. Only 9 states protect all children from non-emergency seclusion (one by banning it entirely); only 15 protect children with disabilities from non-emergency seclusion. Instead, children have been restraine4d or secluded for such actions as failing to do class work, being unable to pay attention due to disability issues, pushing items off desks, tantrums or other educational disruptions, as a substitute for positive behavioral supports and for convenience, punishment, and the like.
- Some children have remained in seclusion/restraint until they can sit perfectly still, show a happy face, or do other tasks unrelated to an emergency. Children with significant disabilities may be unable to respond to such commands and yet pose no threat of danger. Only 14 states by law require that less intrusive methods either fail or be deemed ineffective before seclusion/restraint are used on all children; 20, children with disabilities. Only 14 states by law require restraint and/or seclusion to stop the emergency ends for all children; 22, for children with disabilities.
- 33 states lack laws requiring that parents of all children be informed of restraint/seclusion; 22, lack them for children with disabilities. But of the states with laws or even nonbinding guidelines about this issue, the vast majority seek one-day notification. One day notification is important so that parents can seek medical care for concussions, hidden injuries, other injuries, and trauma.
- Restraints that impede breathing and threaten life are forbidden by law in only 18 states for all children; 25 states, for children with disabilities.
- Children locked in closets and rooms unobserved have been killed and injured, when staff are not watching them. But 29 states allow schools to seclude children with disabilities without requiring staff to continuously watch them; the number rises to 39 for all children.
- Mechanical restraints include chairs and other devices that children are locked into; duct tape and bungee cords, ties, rope, and other things used to restrain children; and other devices. Only 14 states ban mechanical restraint for all children; 18, for all children. Only 13 states ban dangerous chemical restraints for all children.
- Few states ensure that seclusion rooms are safe. Only 16 states require them to be lit; only 14 to have adequate ventilation, heating, and cooling; and only 8 require that children have access to the bathroom.
- Overall, 17 states have laws providing meaningful protections in statute or regulation against restraint and seclusion for all children, 30 for children with disabilities. These have the force of law and must be obeyed. Even these states offer varying protections, with key safeguards present in some states and missing in others. In addition, 2 states have laws protecting against one procedure but not the other. 8 have very weak laws (e.g., Nebraska’s regulation instructs school districts to adopt any policy they choose and imposes no requirements whatsoever); and 12 have nonbinding, suggested guidelines that have no legal force and that are more easily changed by the State Department of Education.
- In December 2009, Congressman George Miller introduced the first national restraint/seclusion bill, and in 2011, Senator Harkin introduced a similar bill. Together, the Miller and Harkin bills have had a substantial impact, causing states to adopt and strengthen restraint/seclusion laws to incorporate several of their features. 14 states have either adopted new laws (statutes/regulations) or substantially overhauled existing laws to incorporate their requirements. For example, 11 incorporate the requirement that physical restraint may not be used unless there is an imminent danger of physical injury for children with disabilities, and 9 for all children. Since the Harkin bill was introduced, 3 states have added requirements that restraints not prevent a child from communicating that he/she is in medical distress (e.g. cannot breathe). Of the 20 students who died in the GAO report, at least 4 verbal children told staff that they could not breathe.
NOTE: Since the report was completed on 3/30/13, two states acted last week. Oregon banned free-standing seclusion cells or boxes. Arizona passed a law permitting seclusion for any reason as long as parents consent or for emergencies threatening physical harm without consent. Such unlimited consent laws exist in a handful of states. AZ does not limit restraint.
KGK is appreciative of the efforts of Rep. Kelly Townsend, the Arizona House of Represenatives, the Arizona Senate, and Governor Jan Brewer in getting the new law on seclusion; it is the beginning of reforming antiquated and unsuccessful punishments.