Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

15 Principles on the Use of Resraint & Seclusion

The U.S. Department of Education releases 15 "principles" on restraint, seclusion:

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued a document May 15, 2012, that sets forth the education department's ideas on the use of restraint and seclusion.  The 45-page document includes a list of 15 principles that should be used by schools to structure environments and provide supports so that restraint and seclusion are unnecessary.  The document recommends, for example, that schools review their strategies "when there is repeated use [of restraint or seclusion] for an individual child, multiple uses within the same classroom, or multiple uses by the same individual."  States and school districts are not obligated to implement these principles, and the document does not create or confer any rights for or on any person or require specific actions by any State, school district or school.  

Fifteen principles on the use of restraint and seclusion

1. Every effort should be made to prevent the need for the use of restraint and for the use of seclusion.

2. Schools should never use mechanical restraints to restrict a child's freedom of movement, and schools should never use drugs or medication to control behavior or to restrict freedom of movement (except as authorized by a licensed physician or other qualified health professional).

3. Physical restraint or seclusion should not be used except in situations where the child's behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others and other interventions are ineffective and should be discontinued as soon as imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others has dissipated.

4. Policies restricting the use of restraint and seclusion should apply to all children, not just children with disabilities.

5. Any behavioral intervention must be consistent with the child's rights to be treated with dignity and to be free from abuse.

6. Restraint or seclusion should never be used as punishment or discipline (e.g., placing in seclusion for out-of-seat behavior), as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience.

7. Restraint or seclusion should never be used in a manner that restricts a child's breathing or harms the child.

8. The use of restraint or seclusion, particularly when there is repeated use for an individual child, multiple uses within the same classroom, or multiple uses by the same individual, should trigger a review and, if appropriate, revision of strategies currently in place to address dangerous behavior ("dangerous behavior" refers to behavior that poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others); if positive behavioral strategies are not in place, staff should consider developing them.  

9. Behavioral strategies to address dangerous behavior that results in the use of restraint or seclusion should address the underlying cause or purpose of the dangerous behavior.  
10. Teachers and other personnel should be trained regularly on the appropriate use of effective alternatives to physical restraint and seclusion, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports and, only for cases involving imminent danger of serious physical harm, on the safe use of physical restraint and seclusion.

11. Every instance in which restraint or seclusion is used should be carefully and continuously and visually monitored to ensure the appropriateness of its use and safety of the child, other children, teachers, and other personnel.

12. Parents should be informed of the policies on restraint and seclusion at their child's school or other educational setting, as well as applicable Federal, State, or local laws.

13. Parents should be notified as soon as possible following each instance in which restraint or seclusion is used with their child.

14. Policies regarding the use of restraint and seclusion should be reviewed regularly and updated as appropriate.  

15. Policies regarding the use of restraint and seclusion should provide that each incident involving the use of restraint or seclusion should be documented in writing and provide for the collection of specific data that would enable teachers, staff, and other personnel to understand and implement the preceding principles.

So what can you do?  Attend your Governing Board meetings, bring the document, and ask what, if anything, your school district is doing with respect to restraint and seclusion, and ask if all the principles in the document are incorporated into your school district's restraint and seclusion policy. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Upcoming Presentation at CHADD

Hope Kirsch is giving a presentation on Special Education Law to the Valley of the Sun Satellite of CHADD.
Date: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Start Time: 6:00pm
Location: 9811 East Bell Road, Suite 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (On-Track Tutoring)
Contact: Erica Schwartz
Phone: 480-563-5588
CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is the nation’s leading non-profit organization serving individuals with ADHD and their families. CHADD has over 16,000 members in 200 local chapters throughout the U.S. Chapters offer support for individuals, parents, teachers, professionals, and others.
 CHADD is a membership organization, produces the bi-monthly Attention magazine (for members), and sponsors an annual conference. The National Resource Center on ADHD National Resource Center on ADHD (NRC) is the CDC-funded national clearinghouse for evidence-based information about ADHD.
CHADD was founded in 1987 in response to the frustration and sense of isolation experienced by parents and their children with ADHD

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Rep. George Miller in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Tom Harkin and Mike Enzi in the U.S. Senate are working to bring an end to the dangerous and deadly practices of seclusion and unnecessary restraint.  Schools need to use evidence based positive practices instead.
Please contact your elected officials (again if you have already) and urge co-sponsorship and swift passage of THE KEEPING ALL STUDENTS SAFE ACT (S.2020 in the Senate and H.R. 1381 in the House).
Senator Harkin is the Chairman of the Commitee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension.  Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Enzi released the following announcement for a hearing in the Senate next week:



To:              All Committee Members
Title:           Beyond Seclusion and Restraint:  Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students
Date:           Thursday, May 17, 2012
Time:          10:00 a.m.
Place:          SD-050

Dr. Daniel Crimmins, Director, Center for Leadership in Disability, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Ms. Cyndi Pitonyak, Coordinator of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Montgomery County Public Schools, Christiansburg, Virginia
Dr. Michael George, Director, Centennial School, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Ms. Deborah (Debbie) Jackson, Parent, Easton, Pennsylvania    

House News
During remarks on the House floor today, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, called on Chairman John Kline (R-MN) to consider the Keeping All Students Safe Act – a bill to protect children from abusive seclusion and restraint practices while attending school.  Although the legislation passed the House more than two years ago with bipartisan support, it never became law.

“Schools are supposed to be a safe place. Parents should never have to worry about the safety of their children when they’re at school,” said Miller. “No child should be neglected, abused, or injured while they are trying to learn.”

In recent months, there have been disturbing cases of children being dangerously restrained by teachers and staff during the school day. In several of these cases, students have suffered serious injury or even died as a result of their injuries. The Keeping All Students Safe Act would, for the first time, put in place minimum safety standards to prevent abusive seclusion and restraint in schools across the country. The legislation would protect schoolchildren from inappropriate uses of seclusion and restraint while at school. The bill would also provide school personnel with the necessary tools, training, and support to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel who support them.

Miller’s remarks today follow a letter he sent last week to Chairman Kline requesting immediate committee action to markup the legislation.

The full text of the letter to Chairman Kline can be found here.

Miller’s remarks on the House floor can be found here.

More information on seclusion and restraint can be found here.


SENATE.  You can email your Senators through the Senate website forms at Locate your Senators by choosing your state at the top. 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.  You can find your Representative and send an email through the House website

Friday, May 4, 2012

Arizona's Anti-Bullying Statute

Arizona has an anti-bullying statute that explains the obligations of each school district in regard to developing and enforcing policies and procedures to prohibit students from harassing, intimidating and bullying other students.  The policies are to cover school grounds, school property, school buses, school bus stops, school sponsored events and activities, and cyber bullying (electronic technology and electronic communication on school computers, networks, forums and mailing lists).  You should be familiar with your school district's policies.  Often the school district has a form for the parent to fill out, but unless you are aware of the policy, you might not be told about the policy when an incident occurs.  So what should you do now -- before any bullying incident?  Read your student/parent handbook AND ask the school principal or assistant principal for a complete copy of the school district's anti-bullying statute AND the forms that are to be filled out to report bullying and inappropriate incident.  It is extremely important to put the school and school district "on notice" (inform them, in writing) of any and all bullying, harassment, intimidation.  While bullying is defined as repeated events, don't wait until a second incident of inappropriate behavior to make a report.     

The policies and procedures must include the following components:

(a) A procedure for pupils, parents and school district employees to confidentially report to school officials incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying. The school shall make available written forms designed to provide a full and detailed description of the incident and any other relevant information about the incident.

(b) A requirement that school district employees report in writing suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying to the appropriate school official and a description of appropriate disciplinary procedures for employees who fail to report suspected incidents that are known to the employee.

(c) A requirement that, at the beginning of each school year, school officials provide all pupils with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to a pupil who is an alleged victim of an incident reported pursuant to this paragraph.

(d) If an incident is reported pursuant to this paragraph, a requirement that school officials provide a pupil who is an alleged victim of the incident with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to that pupil.

(e) A formal process for the documentation of reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying and for the confidentiality, maintenance and disposition of this documentation. School districts shall maintain documentation of all incidents reported pursuant to this paragraph for at least six years. The school shall not use that documentation to impose disciplinary action unless the appropriate school official has investigated and determined that the reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying occurred. If a school provides documentation of reported incidents to persons other than school officials or law enforcement, all individually identifiable information shall be redacted.

(f) A formal process for the investigation by the appropriate school officials of suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying, including procedures for notifying the alleged victim on completion and disposition of the investigation.

(g) Disciplinary procedures for pupils who have admitted or been found to have committed incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

(h) A procedure that sets forth consequences for submitting false reports of incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

(i) Procedures designed to protect the health and safety of pupils who are physically harmed as the result of incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying, including, if appropriate, procedures to contact emergency medical services or law enforcement agencies, or both.

(j) Definitions of harassment, intimidation and bullying.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reminder of Upcoming Presentation: RIGHTS, ADVOCACY AND LAW

On May 10, 2012, Hope Kirsch, Esq. will be presenting with Wendy Shepherd, M.A. & P.I.:
Rights, Advocacy and Law: Empowering Families to Make Child-Related Decisions
Sponsored by the Children’s Service Network
This presentation is designed to help parents and mental health professionals better understand how to advocate for children in educational and other settings. 
Time:  5:30 – 8 PM
Location:  12753 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale AZ 85254  (behind the JCC)
Dinner is available at $5 for non-members.  
Please RSVP to