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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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State Board of Education
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[under development] Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia [8 VAC 20 ‑ 750]
Action Promulgating new regulation governing seclusion & restraint in public elementary & secondary schools
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 4/19/2019
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3/13/19  1:08 pm
Commenter: Cathleen Lavarias

Comments on restraint and seclusion.
 

As an educator and a BCBA, I do understand the need for regulatory action.  However,  there must be considerations for individuals with severe disabilities. 

Currently it is the practice of my staff to debrief after every 3 restraints.  We look at patterns with triggers/setting events, precursor behaviors, and possible antecendent strategies to minimize the likelihood of another incident.  We also review whether or not procedures were followed and if any other changes need to be made to ensure the safety of all involved. The proposed regulations are not very different from our current practice in regards to the debriefing. 

I do take issue with teams being required to hold  IEP meetings after two restraints.  Unfortunately, I have a handful of students that engage in severe behaviors that  that pose imminent danger to themselves or others.  In these situations, we use the least restrictive interventions required to maintain safety.  We attempt to release holds every 2-3 minutes at the most.   When appropriate (developmentally), we debreif with the students and practice other ways to respond to situations. 

For some of these students, these dangerous behaviors occur at a much higher rate. For example, some of the students have a diagnosis of  OCD and autism,  some may engage in self-injurious behaviors, and some may be going through medication changes. Also, when initally implementing behavior change procedures, it is possible for the behaivors to initally increase before decreasing.  For some students, progress is slow and may take a significant amount of time. Especially when working with students that are automatically reinforced by self-injurious behaviors.

These points must be taken into consideration when proposing regulations. 

Parents and educators cannot be expected to meet after every two restraints. For some, this may mean they meet on a student two or more times within a week or two.   Teachers cannot be expected to keep up with this amout of paperwork and parents cannot be expected to take time away from work to attend these meetings.  The purpose of the meeting is nonsensical as the need for revisions to BIPs are based on data not the number of restraints the student has had. BIPs are not the answer to everything and do not fix problems overnight.  Behavior change takes time. 

 These regulations will impact more than just teachers and the programs that serve students with severe disabilities.  These regulations will impact teacher retention, workers comp costs/staff injuries, police involvement, expulsions, suspensions, parent/school relationships, law suits, and referrals to private more  restrictive settings (which are limited in the state of VA) just to list a few. 

In summary,  these regulations cannot be a "catch all" for everyone.  There is a continuum of disabilities as well as a continuum of the severity of these disabilities.   There should be a continuum of regulations which match the range of students schools serve. . Additonally, regulations should be driven by student progress and data not only restraints. 

 

Thank you.

 


3/15/19  1:44 pm
Commenter: Mary Malina

Promulgating new regulation governing seclusion & restraint in public elementary & secondary schools
 

Restraint and seclusion are dangerous practices which have led to death, broken limbs other injuries, and psychological trauma, and .disproportionately impact kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities Over the past 20 years, evidence has accumulated about the dangers of restraint and seclusion.

Virginia law requires the regulations governing seclusion and restraint to be consistent with the Fifteen Principles contained in the U.S. Department of Education’s Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document. The proposed Virginia regulations contain some strong measures to protect students from these harmful practices, but they remain inconsistent with the Fifteen Principles and must be improved.

I am writing in support of the Coalition for the Improvement of School Safety (CISS) platform, and asking the Board to ensure that the proposed regulations are consistent with the Fifteen Principles, as required by law.


3/16/19  5:19 am
Commenter: Riham Mahfouz

Support for CISS Platform and alignment with the Fifteen Principles
 

I am writing to express my support for the Coalition for the Improvement of School Safety (CISS) platform and to ask the Board to ensure that the proposed regulations are consistent with the Fifteen Principles, as required by law. Below are some recommendations. Instead of Restraint and Seclusion, schools should use proved applied behavior analysis techniques to address problem behaviors, to prevent behaviors from occurring in the first place. Our schools lack properly trained individuals and restraint/seclusion results in increase, not a decrease, in problem behaviors. 

--

CISS Recommendation 1: The Board must keep the protection in the regulations to prohibit restraint and seclusion solely to prevent property damage.

CISS Recommendation 2: The Board must keep the requirement in the regulations for schools to make reasonable efforts to provide same-day notification to parents when seclusion and restraint are used and to provide written reports of restraint and seclusion incidents.

CISS Recommendation 3: The Board must add an explicit prohibition on prone restraint. This form of restraint is extremely dangerous and is prohibited by the Fifteen Principles. The recommendations cannot be consistent with the Fifteen Principles and comply with Virginia law unless they contain an explicit ban on prone restraint.

CISS Recommendation 4: The Board must omit the carve-out for seclusion of students during the investigation of alleged code of conduct violations. Placing a child in a room they believe they are not free to leave is seclusion, and it is dangerous. This loophole in the regulation would allow schools to seclude students for behavior as minor as possessing a cell phone or lying, and it must be closed.

CISS Recommendation 5: The regulations must clarify that restraint and seclusion may be used ONLY when necessary because of an “imminent threat of serious physical harm to self or others.”

CISS Recommendation 6: The Board must eliminate the exclusion of “incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control” from the purview of the regulations. This language is subject to broad interpretation and could result in undocumented and unregulated restraints occurring under the guise of “reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control.”


3/17/19  7:34 pm
Commenter: Ann W. Worley

Restraint and Seclusion
 

1. ADD a regulation to BAN PRONE RESTRAINT. 
a. Keep the regulation forbidding any restraint that impedes breathing and specifically say that prone restraint is banned.
2. ELIMINATE the regulation allowing restraint and seclusion to be used to “maintain order & Control”
a. Restraint and seclusion should ONLY be used in self-defense or to defend others from serious physical harm- not when a child is being unruly or possibly showing a manifestation of their disabilities like not standing in line, exhibiting vocal tics, flapping their hands…etc.
3. REMOVE the regulation that lets schools seclude when investigating or questioning about violations of the student Code of Conduct.
a. Seclusion should only be in an emergency NOT become part of the investigation of violation of Code of Conduct. Seclusion is traumatic and dangerous.
4. Improve debriefing to require parental participation and have trained staff design appropriate programs to prevent future Restraint and Seclusion incidents. 
a. NOT part of the 15 Principals to turn this into child-blaming exercise.
5. CLARIFY that Restraint and Seclusion should only be used in conformity with the 15 Principles of the US Department of Education.
a. Cannot be used to “teach a child a lesson”.
6. CLARIFY that transportation personnel are EMPLOYEES that must comply with these Regulations 
a. Bus personnel wrongly use restraint on students that results in injury.


3/19/19  10:14 pm
Commenter: Alexa Zagorites

My daughter GIGI
 

It saddens me we are still discussing the ban or restraint & seclusion and prone practices within Virginia schools.. my daughters name is GIGI. She is the happiest human I’ve ever known. Gigi has never had a behavior plan in her time within school, nor has she ever had problem behaviors like most have assumed about her. She has been secluded & or restrained in one of our largest school systems since 2010. This same wealthy, well-known, affluent school system never felt it necessary to let me know my daughter had been put behind a 6-8 foot cabinet, bookcases, the brick wall and gym mats, while the only 2 adults had their backs to her, meaning they could not tell if my daughter was in distress, hurt or in need of assistance. Gigi needs help with all basic life skills and looks to her teachers for support, love and respect none of which were shown to her the day they turned their back to her leaving her to think who knows what. I was not told in a timely manner it was weeks later, leaving me only to question Gigi’s outbursts and behaviors. Restraint & Seclusion are NEVER needed. Not one expert, educator, or other expert is going to convince me it’s a “needed” practice. We can’t go into public restrooms, small spaces of any kind with out some sort of outburst in distress from Gigi. The student who took Gigi’s picture behind the teacher made enclosure is my hero. Gigi was the first person he’d photographed as he typically enjoys taking photos of objects rather than people. These children and adults are human beings with the same rights and needs as anyone else. I have never seen or read of one positive affect these practices have had on someone. I am now begging you to have the practice of restraint & seclusion & prone banned from use in Virginia. 

 


3/20/19  5:33 pm
Commenter: Dena Rosenkrantz, Virginia Education Association

Proposed Regulation on Restraint and Seclusion
 

The Virginia Education Association calls for Virginia Board of Education to ensure proposed regulations on restraint and seclusion are consistent with existing STATUTES including Virginia Code sections 22.1-279.1, 18.2-57 and 63.2-1511.  State law recognizes situations in which physical contact or use of reasonable force is necessary,.  State law protects school employees exercise of judgment in the moment as to such actions.   And state law protects school employee who acts in good faith in the course of school employment without gross negligence or willful misconduct.  

VEA supports change in proposed regulation to specify actions are prohibited "to the extent they pose a significant danger in the public elementary and secondary schools of Virginia."

VEA calls for deletion of proposed language restricting action in defense of property.  State law provides school employee use of physical contact or reasonable force to protect property is not prohibited as corporal punishment, does not constitute criminal assault and is not child abuse or neglect.  Regulation on restraint and seclusion must be consistent with state law.  Further, VEA asks how limit on the ability of school employees to act to protect property could prevent school employee action when one student threatens or acts to damage items used or owned by other students.  

VEA also urges the Board to add language to final provision of proposed regulation that nothing shall be construed to modify or restrict rights, defenses and protections of school personnel as follows:

5. The rights, defenses, and protections of school personnel stated in Virginia Code sections 22.1-279.1, 18.2-57 and 63.2-1511.  The prohibited actions in these regulations shall not be deemed to prevent a teacher, principal, supervisor, or other person employed by a local school board or employed by a school operated in the Commonwealth from (i) the use of incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control; (ii) the use of reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance or remove a student from the scene of a disturbance that threatens physical injury to persons or damage to property; (iii) the use of reasonable and necessary force to prevent a student from inflicting physical harm on himself; (iv) the use of reasonable and necessary force for self-defense or the defense of others; or (v) the use of reasonable and necessary force to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects or controlled substances or paraphernalia that are upon the person of the student or within his control.  Prohibited actions shall not include physical pain, injury or discomfort caused by the use of incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control. 

In determining whether actions are within the exceptions provided in this section, due deference shall be given to reasonable judgments at the time of the event made by a teacher, principal, or other person employed by a school board or employed in a school operated by the Commonwealth.

If it is determined that the actions or omissions of a teacher, principal, or other person employed by a local school board or employed in a school operated by the Commonwealth were within such employee's scope of employment and were taken in good faith in the course of supervision, care, or discipline of students, then the standard in determining if prohibited actions occurred is whether such acts or omissions constituted gross negligence or willful misconduct.    


3/20/19  5:48 pm
Commenter: Janet Lilly

Restraint and Seclusion Policy
 

My child hasn't attended a public school in a long time; I pulled him out to homeschool due to restraint and seclusion issues. He has now graduated. He was in school when the policy was beginning to be challenged; and it is hard for me to see that it takes so long to get a stronger policy in place for restraint and seclusion.  In that time, I can't imagine how many kids have been injured, restrained, etc. I have seen these practices used improperly and students sent to seclusion for the smallest of things like not picking up a pencil they dropped and then escalate their disability. Alot of children with autism have sensory issues and do not like to be touched they also have abnormal seizures; that when restrained / secluded it does not help but escalates the problem more. There are schools who are doing well without restraint/ seclusion. I now a young family member with autism and I hope one day he will not have to go through what my son did in public schools. I support a stronger policy and better training for staff in working with special needs students. 


3/24/19  10:36 pm
Commenter: Amy Baldwin

Seclusion - It is a self fulfilling prophecy
 

Placing a child in seclusion is degrading and this form of punishment is not allowed by European laws and it shouldn't be allowed here.  Embarrassing a child does not encourage a positive change. By treating the child differently, you are telling them they are different. And worst, you are effectively telling all of the other children in that class to do also treat that child differently. Children follow the example of their teacher. If a teacher can segregate the child and embarrasses them, then they will do the same. The child will start be believing they are naughty, and guess what? It is now part of their identity.  It is a self fulfilling prophecy. 

We should be doing 'time ins' not 'time outs'!

 

 

 


3/30/19  12:45 pm
Commenter: Kristin

Seclusion/Restraint Regulatory Changes
 
  • Concern over use of term "parent" throughout document; parent appears to be undefined. Does this term cover legal guardians, custodians, and other persons and/or entities that have care and control over the child?
  • 8VAC20-750-90. Consider as part of the annually reporting to DOE under 750-90 to include a written attestion compliance with 8VAC20-750-70.C.While I understand self policing, providing a statement to DOE they either have or have not completed an annually review is helpful for auditing process and accountablility. 

4/3/19  11:19 am
Commenter: Elizabeth Shatzer

Ban seclusion and restraint
 
As a parent and activist, I urge you to ban all forms of seclusion and restraint of disabled children in our schools. It is not beneficial in any way, and can cause long term physical and mental damage. This abuse should not be used as a cover for poor training and lack of staff.

4/5/19  4:58 am
Commenter: Amy Trail

Restraint and Seclusion Regulations
 

The law that was passed by the General Assembly is to be in line with the 15 principles from the Department of Education.  The Proposed Regulations have been changed since they were released from the VDOE and sent to the Attorney General and the Governors office.  I strongly urge everyone to review the entire Regulations proposed again and reinstate the language to protect VA's children. BAN PRONE RESTRAINTS! 


4/15/19  10:27 am
Commenter: Angela Neely, Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education

Public Comment on Seclusion & Restraint Regulations
 

Type

April 15, 2019

 

Re: Virginia Proposed Seclusion and Restraint Regulations

 

Dear President Gecker, Dr. Lane, and Members of the Virginia Board of Education,

 

On behalf of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE), I appreciate the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.  Overall, VCASE supports the proposed regulations.  VCASE was involved in providing input and public comment at all stages of the development of the Regulations.  I believe these regulations also address the concerns of parents and advocates who have expressed strong feelings in opposition to restraint and seclusion practices.  VCASE recognizes the importance of regulations that will ensure the health, safety, and dignity of all students, with and without disabilities.  The proposed regulations strike the balance in ensuring the well-being of individual students and providing a safe school environment for all, including:

  • language defining restraint and seclusion, including prohibited practices that could endanger students;
  • mandatory continuous visual monitoring of any restraint and seclusion;
  • timely reporting to school administrators as well as notification and involvement of parents;
  • professional development in positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), conflict prevention, crisis response, and de-escalation as well as development of functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavioral intervention plans (BIP) with the aim to reduce the need for restraint or seclusion;
  • involvement of IEP, Section 504, and other interdisciplinary teams to ensure individualized student consideration;
  • annual reporting of seclusion and restraint incidences; and
  • development of division policies and practices in compliance with Virginia regulations.

 

I also have a few concerns that I hope you will address: 

 

Training requirements.

  • “All school personnel.” I am concerned with the current language that recommends “all school personnel” must receive the initial training that focuses on skills related to positive behavior support, conflict prevention, de-escalation, and crisis response as well as the regulations, policies and procedures governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion. I believe this will add an unnecessary burden for divisions to train school employees that do not come into contact with students on a regular basis. I request consideration to revise the proposed definition of “all school personnel” to language that limits personnel required for this training to include “all school-based personnel who have ongoing, direct contact with students in instructional and school support roles.”

 

  • Cost burden. I am concerned with the cost of training and requests that training costs be funded by the VDOE, not local school divisions.  The provision of initial training for all employees as well as advanced training for at least one school building administrator and staff members who work with students who may likely require seclusion or restraint will create a financial burden for school divisions already facing multiple other “unfunded mandates”.  

 

Implementation Timeframe.

  • While not a regulatory issue, I am concerned with the timeline of implementation of the regulations and request that adequate time be given for school districts to develop written policies and procedures and provide training for school division personnel.  It is important to note that these regulations will apply to ALL Virginia students, not just students with disabilities.  Therefore, I hope the Board of Education consults with division school boards and superintendents in developing a reasonable timeline for the development of local policies and budgeting of resources required prior to implementation of these regulations. A reasonable timeframe for implementation of these regulations would be one full school year after final approval. If approved in spring 2019, the school divisions and VDOE should have the 2019-20 school year to develop local policies, plan professional development, and budget for implementation of the regulations beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

 

Again, thank you for the opportunity to provide the perspective of special education administrators as you finalize the Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.

 

Sincerely,

Angela M. Neely

Executive Director of Special Education for Culpeper County Public Schools

President, VCASE


4/16/19  10:27 am
Commenter: Eli Newcomb, The Faison Center

restraint & seclusion - comments
 

On behalf of The Faison Center, I write in support of the proposed regulations and to request revision to some of the language to ensure ease of and consistent interpretation.

(1) Regarding Section A of 8VAC20-750-80 (Prevention; multiple uses of restraint or seclusion) and for clarification purposes: 

If an incident of physical restraint or seclusion occurs early in the school year and the IEP Team meets within the prescribed 10 day period, how are future instances in the same school year to be handled? Following any/all future use of restraint of seclusion during the same school year, is the Team to meet again, within 10 days? 

(2) Regarding Section C of 8VAC20-750-100 (Training), we recommend expanding on the term "advanced" and providing specific language as to what that means—as it could be interpreted quite differently from district-to-district and from school-to-school. 

Regarding Section D of 8VAC20-750-100, we offer a similar recommendation but related to the use of "evidence-based," which is a term that is used frequently in education and other disciplines, but often not objectively or otherwise well-defined. There are a number of crisis deescalation training curricula; is the intent of this language to ensure schools utilize a cohesive, comprehensive, and curricular-based approach to training, or something entirely different? 

For both Sections C and D, we believe that clarification on these terms is necessary if schools are to be positioned to adhere to the regulations.  


4/17/19  11:18 am
Commenter: Poquoson City Public Schools

Public Comment on Proposed Seclusion and Restraint Regulations
 

April 17, 2019

Re: Virginia Proposed Seclusion and Restraint Regulations

Dear President Gecker, Dr. Lane, and Members of the Virginia Board of Education:

My name is Ashley Reyher and I am the Director of Student Services in Poquoson City Public Schools.  I am also a member of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE), which represents over 300 special education administrators dedicated to providing leadership and support for the education of students with disabilities in the Commonwealth.  As a special education administrator, I also ensure the provision of special education services in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.


Overall, I support the proposed regulations pertaining to seclusion and restraint.  VCASE was involved in providing input and public comment at all stages of the development of the Regulations.  I believe these regulations also address the concerns of parents and advocates who have expressed strong feelings in opposition to restraint and seclusion practices.  I recognize the importance of regulations that will ensure the health, safety, and dignity of all students, with and without disabilities. The proposed regulations strike the balance in ensuring the well-being of individual students and providing a safe school environment for all, including:

  • Language defining restraint and seclusion, including prohibited practices that could endanger students;

  • Mandatory continuous visual monitoring of any restraint and seclusion;

  • Timely reporting to school administrators as well as notification and involvement of parents;

  • Professional develop0ment in positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), conflict prevention, crisis response, and de-escalation as well as development of functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavior intervention plans (BIP) with the aim to reduce the need for restraint or seclusion;

  • Involvement of IEP, Section 504, and other interdisciplinary teams to ensure individualized student consideration;

  • Annual reporting of seclusion and restraint incidences; and

  • Development of division policies and practices in compliance with Virginia Regulations.

I also have a few concerns that I hope you will  address:

Training requirements - “All school personnel.”

I am concerned with the current language that recommends “all school personnel” must receive the initial training that focuses on skills related to positive behavior support, conflict prevention, de-escalation, and crisis response as well as the regulations, policies and procedures governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion. I believe this will add an unnecessary burden for divisions to train school employees that do not come into contact with students on a regular basis. I request consideration to revise the proposed definition of “all school personnel” to language that limits personnel required for this training to include “all school-based personnel who have ongoing, direct contact with students in instructional and school support roles.”

Cost burden.

I am concerned with the cost of training and request that training costs be funded by the VDOE, not local school divisions.  The provision of initial training for all employees as well as advanced training for at least one school building administrator and staff members who work with students who may likely require seclusion or restraint will create a financial burden for school divisions already facing multiple other “unfunded mandates”.  

Implementation Timeframe.

While not a regulatory issue, I am concerned with the timeline of implementation of  the regulations and request that adequate time be given for school districts to develop written policies and procedures and provide training for school division personnel.  It is important to note that these regulations will apply to ALL Virginia students, not just students with disabilities.  Therefore, I hope the Board of Education consults with division school boards and superintendents in developing a reasonable timeline for the development of local policies and budgeting of resources required prior to implementation of these regulations. A reasonable timeframe for implementation of these regulations would be one full school year after final approval. If approved in spring 2019, the school divisions and VDOE should have the 2019-20 school year to develop local policies, plan professional development, and budget for implementation of the regulations beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment as you finalize the Virginia Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.

Sincerely,

Ashley E. Reyher

Director of Student Services

Poquoson City Public Schools

Member, Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education

 


4/17/19  12:21 pm
Commenter: Michael Asip, VCASE

Support of Seclusion/Restraint Regulations with Recommendations
 

Dear President Gecker and Members of the Virginia Board of Education:

My name is Dr. Michael Asip and I am a retired former Director of Exceptional Education in Chesterfield County and Past President of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE), which represents over 300 special education administrators dedicated to providing leadership and support for the education of students with disabilities across Virginia.  


Overall, I support the proposed regulations pertaining to seclusion and restraint.  I represented VCASE in early stakeholder meetings, keeping VCASE involved in providing input and public comment at various stages of the development of the Regulations.  I believe these regulations have addressed the concerns of parents and advocates, well represented at stakeholder and regional meetings over the years, who have expressed strong feelings in opposition to restraint and seclusion practices.  The proposed regulations strike the balance in ensuring the well-being of individual students and providing a safe school environment for all, including:

  • Language defining restraint and seclusion, including prohibited practices that could endanger students;
  • Mandatory continuous visual monitoring of any restraint and seclusion;

  • Timely reporting to school administrators as well as notification and involvement of parents;

  • Professional development in positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), conflict prevention, crisis response, and de-escalation as well as development of functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavior intervention plans (BIP) with the aim to reduce the need for restraint or seclusion;

  • Involvement of IEP, Section 504, and other interdisciplinary teams to ensure individualized student consideration;

  • Annual reporting of seclusion and restraint incidences; and

  • Development of division policies and practices in compliance with Virginia Regulations.

I also have a few recommendations that I hope you will consider:

Training requirements - “All school personnel.”

I am concerned with the current language that recommends “all school personnel” must receive the initial training that focuses on skills related to positive behavior support, conflict prevention, de-escalation, and crisis response as well as the regulations, policies and procedures governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion. I believe this will add an unnecessary burden for divisions to train school employees that do not come into contact with students on a regular basis. I request consideration to revise the proposed definition of “all school personnel” to language that limits personnel required for this training to include “all school-based personnel who have ongoing, direct contact with students in instructional and school support roles.”  I hope the Board can perform a brief edit that limits division personnel affected by these regulations.

Cost burden.

I am concerned with the cost of training and request that training costs be funded by the VDOE, not local school divisions.  The provision of initial training for all employees as well as advanced training for at least one school building administrator and staff members who work with students who may likely require seclusion or restraint will create a financial burden for school divisions already facing multiple other “unfunded mandates.”  The Board should seek and approve funding to provide for effective implementation of these regulations.

Implementation Timeframe.  Recommend SY 2020-21 at earliest.

While not a regulatory issue, I am concerned with the timeline of implementation of  the regulations and request that adequate time be given for school districts to develop written policies and procedures and provide training for school division personnel.  It is important to note that these regulations will apply to ALL Virginia students, not just students with disabilities.  Therefore, I hope the Board of Education consults with division school boards and superintendents in developing a reasonable timeline for the development of local policies and budgeting of resources required prior to implementation of these regulations. A reasonable timeframe for implementation of these regulations would be one full school year after final approval. If approved in summer of 2019, the school divisions and VDOE should have the 2019-20 school year to develop local policies, plan professional development, and budget for implementation of the regulations beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment as you finalize the Virginia Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mike Asip

Past President, Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE)

 

 


4/17/19  3:50 pm
Commenter: Kim Sanders, Ukeru Systems

Response to the Virginia Department of Education’s Request for Public Comments on 8VAC20-750
 

As president of Ukeru Systems®, a Winchester, Virginia-based organization, I appreciate the opportunity to share our views as you consider 8VAC20-750. My organization, along with our parent company, Grafton Integrated Health Network, commends the Virginia Department of Education for working to ensure that its policies on restraint and seclusion are in the best interest of all students in the state. Ukeru is the only crisis training program in the country that provides trauma-informed, physical alternatives to restraint and seclusion. We work with over 140 organizations – including public schools and school districts - across North America and in the state of Virginia to give teachers and staff the tools they need to eliminate the need for these dangerous practices.

Like the Virginia Department of Education, Ukeru is working towards the goal of ensuring maximum classroom safety for both students and teachers, while creating a productive and positive learning environment. Based upon our 60 years of experience, and as a nationally recognized leader in the minimization of restraint[1][2][3][4], we strongly believe that restraint and seclusion are not only dangerous to the students in the state of Virginia and across the country, but that they are also unproductive. Neither is an evidence-based practice, nor is there data to suggest that they lead to reduced violent or uncontrolled behavior.[5] In fact, research has shown that these outdated, coercive behavior techniques can cause, reinforce, and maintain aggression and violence in the classroom rather than defuse it.[6]

Ukeru celebrated the Virginia legislature in 2015 for passing a law directing the Virginia Board of Education to adopt regulations governing the use of restraint and seclusion. We generally support these regulations as published by the Governor’s office earlier this year. However, we ask that you please consider several factors:

  • Prone Restraints, or a face down physical restraints, should be banned within the regulations. This technique is especially dangerous, having led to several deaths of adults and children. An investigation by Disability Rights California found a number of deaths or serious injuries sustained while the victim was restrained face down or prone.[7] The medical expert in this investigation concluded that these deaths or injuries were most likely caused by positional asphyxiation and, specifically, the prone restraint position. According to the report, the mechanism of death is a sudden fatal cardiac arrhythmia or respiratory arrest due to a combination of factors causing decreased oxygen delivery at a time of increased oxygen demand. 

This is only one of many reports that look at the dangers of prone restraint. One need only look at the headlines to find multiple examples of a prone restraint gone terribly wrong. This technique has proven so dangerous that 27 states have banned it generally and 33 have banned it specifically for children with disabilities and those in a special education setting.[8] We urge Virginia to follow suit - prone restraint is not a necessary tool for educators and its use in classrooms in Virginia is outdated and unsafe.

  • Trauma plays a large role in understanding the inefficiency of restraint and seclusion. For individuals who have experienced traumatic events, the impact of re-experiencing that trauma through the use of restraints and seclusions can be devastating. Studies estimate that nearly 50% of U.S. children have experienced at least one potentially traumatic "adverse childhood experience," or ACE.[9]  Children who have experienced trauma may act out in negative ways when placed in stressful or “trigger” situations.

Given the prevalence of trauma, Ukeru believes that all intervention - educational and behavioral - should emanate from a foundation of comfort versus control. Teaching from a trauma-informed platform can shift the perspective from “What’s wrong with this child?” to “What’s happened to this child to make him/her express this behavior?” which is far more effective.

  • In order to reduce the number of restraint and seclusion incidents, training is key. Educators must be given the proper tools to deescalate conflicts and manage behavioral issues in a way that is safe for both the student and themselves. After all, no one wants to restrain or seclude a child, they simply don’t know what else to do. With training on key concepts — not just trauma-informed care but also conflict resolution, among others — as well as the physical techniques and tools that help manage challenging behavior, educators will have meaningful alternatives to restraint and seclusion from which to draw.

Currently, the regulations state that restraint “may only be used in an emergency situation.” However, what constitutes an emergency for one teacher may not for another. We need to ensure that all teachers are trained equally and given the necessary education to avoid immediately moving from verbal de-escalation to restraint. Rather than instructing teachers how to restrain, we should be instructing how NOT to restrain while still keeping themselves and their students safe.

Ukeru was created with these factors in mind. Many years ago, Grafton Integrated Health Network used restraint with regularity when a consumer presented behaviors that were perceived as dangerous. In 2004, the organization embarked on a concerted effort to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion. This effort resulted in:

  • A 99% decrease in restraint frequency
  • A 100% reduction seclusion
  • A 97% decrease in staff injury due to restraint
  • A 64% decrease in client-induced staff injury
  • A 133% increase in client goal mastery from 2003 to 2016
  • A savings of over $16 million in lost time expenses, turnover costs, and workers’ compensation policy costs.

Based upon these learnings and results, the Ukeru model was launched. We are honored to have received national and international recognition for these efforts, including winning the prestigious Negley President’s Award for Excellence in Risk Management twice (2008 and 2012); the 2013 National Council Impact Awards; and recognition by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration for clinical best practices in restraint and seclusion reduction (2010). In addition, data resulting from our efforts have been published in the journal Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Examples like Grafton’s make clear that restraint and seclusion can be eliminated without compromising safety. Further, we know that these results are not an anomaly. They can and have been replicated elsewhere, with appropriate training. Ukeru has trained over 140 organizations - including many schools and school districts – in 28 states. We are currently working with the Loudoun County Schools in Virginia. The results have been impressive, proving that others can achieve outcomes similar to our own.

We are grateful that the Virginia Department of Education is evaluating the use of restraint and seclusion in classrooms. We know that greatly reducing or even eliminating restraints is not only possible, it is the environment in which we successfully operate. We feel sure that, by taking the appropriate steps, schools throughout the state can have a similarly successful experience.


[1] Grafton was awarded The Negley Presidents’ Award for excellence in risk management practices.

[2] Grafton has received the National Council Excellence in Behavioral Healthcare Award.

[3] Grafton has been recognized by SAMHSA for its clinical best practices.

[4] Grafton is one of only four North American providers recognized by the International Initiative Mental Health Leadership as exemplifying best practices in treatment of individuals with complex disabilities

[5] Promoting Alternatives to the Use of Seclusion and Restraint – Issue Brief #4. SAMHSA, 2010

[6] IBID

[7] The Lethal Hazard Of Prone Restraint: Positional Asphyxiation. Disability Rights California. 2002.

[8] How Safe is Your Schoolhouse: An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies. Jessica Butler. 2017

[9] The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Centers for Disease Control. 1998

 


4/17/19  3:56 pm
Commenter: Jennifer Tidd

There is no humane way to do something inhumane to a child.
 

 

 

The only humane regulations Virginia can pass in regards to seclusion and restraint is to ban seclusion entirely, Also, to ban dangerous forms of restraint like supine and prone restraints from which children have been seriously injured and killed.. My verbally impaired autistic son was secluded in a cell over 400 times in 3 years. He spent 100s of hours locked up and his behaviors only became worse. Not until he started at a school in which he’s no longer secluded did his behaviors improve dramatically. Had he spent those hundreds of hours in speech therapy rather than locked up alone and terrified in a room, then sent back in to clean up his own urine, his behaviors would have improved. Behaviors are communication when no other methods are available to a child. The school that locked him up repeatedly did all the proper paperwork and sent it all home.                    

Proper documentation doesn’t make the experience any less fearful or traumatic. Proponents of these methods say it’s about “safety.” How about the mental safety of children? This is a short term copout that creates a much longer term problem, and starts the school to prison pipeline for many children. Numerous human rights organizations have called for a total prohibition of aversive behavioral methods including CDC, ACLU, Amnesty International, World Health Organizatjon, and the UN. Anyone ignoring the human rights piece of this and making it all about data and paperwork is on the wrong side of history here. WE WILL BAN THESE MIDIEVAL PRACTICES, hence, the focus of the state really needs to be on funding special education so that our kids are receiving the FAPE rights to which they are entitled, and nobody should be permitted into a classroom with kids who have behavioral struggles but highly credentialed specialists. A child who lives in fear can’t possibly learn to his/her full potential. Anything short of an all-out ban of seclusion and a ban of prone and supine restraints, making other forms of restraint exceptionally rare, is unacceptable. Don’t talk to me about making the paperwork more efficient. Documenting child abuse doesn’t make it any less abusive. 

This needs to end. Our schools need to be funded, innovative, and to employ methods that are not aversive and that WORK. That includes employing more than a single form of behavioral therapy. ABA is great for some kids, but also doesn’t work on many, so when that method isn’t successful, time to move on to another method. Just like there is a spectrum of nerds for all kinds of children, there must be a spectrum of options. And none of those options can include solitary confinement, forcing a child to wipe up his own urine, supine, or prone restraints. I don’t know how many our of our children have to be seriously injured or killed before our state decides that school brutality is no longer acceptable for any reason, EVER. 

The next child who is seriously injured or dies? All who refused to follow the unilateral statements of numerous human rights organizations on prohibiting aversive treatment of children will be complicit in those injuries or deaths. 

 

 


4/18/19  9:05 am
Commenter: Julie Cullifer

Restraint & Seclusion Considerations
 

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization that provides services to children with developmental differences and I am a parent. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my concerns about 8VAC20-750. It’s concerning that the State of Virginia has decided to establish the parameters in which adults can legally enact trauma upon a child. Legislating the use of Restraint and Seclusion rather than outright banning its use is exactly just that- creating the legal justification for Restraint and Seclusion. However, I would ask that if you must legislate the use of Restraint and Seclusion you please consider several factors:

 

  • Ban the use of Prone Restraints, face down physical restraints, or any restraint that impedes breathing. These techniques are especially dangerous, and there are several documented cases of these types of restraints causing deaths in adults and children. The use of prone restraint on children with disabilities has been banned in 33 states and simply, is outdated and unsafe.  

 

  • According to the U.S. Department of Education Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document, Restraint and Seclusion “should not be used as a routine strategy implemented to address instructional problems or inappropriate behavior (e.g., disrespect, noncompliance, or insubordination),  and it may not be used as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience.” (1) As such, I would suggest that following language and justifications in 8VAC20-750 be stricken from the legislation as they are in violation of the USDOE guidance document.  The use of Restraint and Seclusion:

1) to “maintain order & control”

 2) when investigating or questioning about violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

3) to “quell a disturbance”

 

  • The regulations state that restraint “may only be used in an emergency situation.” However, this definition of when restraint and seclusion may be used is subjective in nature and lacking clear guidance on when it is acceptable for teachers and administrators to act. What constitutes an emergency for one teacher may not for another. We need to ensure that if we are going to give permission for teachers and administrators to conduct this type of intervention then it must be clearly defined what circumstances in which action it is deemed appropriate

 

  • If the state is going to permit the use of restraint and seclusion, then it needs to ensure that all teachers, administrators and school employees (to include bus drivers) are equally trained. 

 

  • Rather than focusing on training staff on how to restrain, efforts should be focused on training school personnel how best not to restrain in crisis situations while keeping themselves and their students safe.  To achieve this training should not be limited to verbal de-escalation techniques but also education about trauma-informed practices and disabilities.

 

  • Training is not FREE. Requiring school divisions to align with the necessary training requirements without providing funding to support this directive only creates another financial burden on school divisions already struggling to keep pace with the many unfunded mandates of federal and state requirements. Please ensure that any training mandate is accompanied by funding from the state to divisions.

4/18/19  3:53 pm
Commenter: Rachel McLaughlin, Charlottesville City Schools Parkside Post High Program

Seclusion and Restraint policies
 

Dear President Gecker and Members of the Virginia Board of Education:

My name is Rachel McLaughlin. I am the lead teacher in the City of Charlottesville's Post High Program, Parkside. I work with students ages 18-22 with moderate to severe disabilities and have been a public school teacher for 19 years.

Overall, I support the proposed regulations pertaining to seclusion and restraint however I am concerned with the current language that recommends “all school personnel” must receive the initial training that focuses on skills related to positive behavior support, conflict prevention, de-escalation, and crisis response as well as the regulations, policies and procedures governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion. I believe this will add an unnecessary burden for divisions to train school employees that do not come into contact with students on a regular basis. I request consideration to revise the proposed definition of “all school personnel” to language that limits personnel required for this training to include “all school-based personnel who have ongoing, direct contact with students in instructional and school support roles.”  I hope the Board can perform a brief edit that limits division personnel affected by these regulations.

 

In addition, I am concerned with the cost of training and request that training costs be funded by the VDOE, not local school divisions if these new requirements are implemented. Special education funding is already sparse. My program does a lot of fund-raising in order to attend special events or dine out for special community meals. Transportation for special education in my district is already streched thin with barely enough vehicles and vans to meet the needs of our programs and students. Adding any additional mandatory training that would cost my district significant money would be detrimental to my program.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment as you finalize the Virginia Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.

 

Sincerely,

Rachel McLaughlin, Parkside teacher


4/18/19  3:58 pm
Commenter: Jane Strong, Ph.D.

Proposed Restraint and Seclusion Regulation
 

Dear President Gecker, Dr. Lane, and Members of the Virginia Board of Education:

I appreciate the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed regulations pertaining to seclusion and restraint.  While I support the proposal overall, the following comments are intended to provide recommendations to help to clarify or improve upon the Board’s proposals and to help facilitate local implementation efforts as the Regulations go into effect.

I am the President-Elect for the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) and Director of Special Education Procedural Support for Fairfax County Public Schools.   VCASE appreciated the many ways in which administrators were involved in providing input and public comment at all stages of the development of the Regulations.  I believe these regulations also address the concerns of parents and advocates who have expressed strong feelings in opposition to restraint and seclusion practices.  These proposed regulations ensure the health, safety, and dignity of all students, with and without disabilities while also attempting to strike the balance in ensuring the well-being of individual students and providing a safe school environment for all, including:

  • Language defining restraint and seclusion, including prohibited practices that could endanger students;

  • Mandatory continuous visual monitoring of any restraint and seclusion;

  • Timely reporting to school administrators as well as notification and involvement of parents;

  • Professional development in positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), conflict prevention, crisis response, and de-escalation as well as development of functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavior intervention plans (BIP) with the aim to reduce the need for restraint or seclusion;

  • Involvement of IEP, Section 504, and other interdisciplinary teams to ensure individualized student consideration;

  • Annual reporting of seclusion and restraint incidences; and

  • Development of division policies and practices in compliance with Virginia Regulations.

Please consider the following recommendations:

Training requirements - “All school personnel.”

I am concerned with the current language that recommends “all school personnel” must receive the initial training that focuses on skills related to positive behavior support, conflict prevention, de-escalation, and crisis response as well as the regulations, policies and procedures governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion. I believe this will add an unnecessary burden for divisions to train school employees that do not come into contact with students on a regular basis. I request consideration to revise the proposed definition of “all school personnel” to language that limits personnel required for this training to include “all school-based personnel who have ongoing, direct contact with students in instructional and school support roles.”

Cost burden.

I am concerned with the cost of training and request that training costs be funded by the VDOE, not local school divisions.  The provision of initial training for all employees as well as advanced training for at least one school building administrator and staff members who work with students who may likely require seclusion or restraint will create a financial burden for school divisions already facing multiple other “unfunded mandates”.  

Implementation Timeframe.

While not a regulatory issue, I am concerned with the timeline of implementation of the regulations and request that adequate time be given for school districts to develop written policies and procedures and provide training for school division personnel.  It is important to note that these regulations will apply to ALL Virginia students, not just students with disabilities.  Therefore, I hope the Board of Education will establish a reasonable timeframe for implementation of these regulations.  School Boards and administrators need sufficient time after final approval to develop local policies, plan professional development, and budget for implementation of the regulations.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment as you finalize the Virginia Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.

Sincerely,

Jane Strong, Ph.D.

President-Elect, VCASE

 

 


4/18/19  4:51 pm
Commenter: Lisa Ownby, MSW

Restraint and Seclusion Policy
 

 

I am social worker, the mother of 3 k-12 students and a 2015 k-12 graduate and the chair of a local school board. I have worked in the field of developmental disabilities for more than 25 years, including serving as the president of the ARC of VA for 4 years in the late 90's.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my concerns about 8VAC20-750. I think the state must strongly consider the ramifications of a policy that outlines the ways in which adults can legally and forcibly control a student through the use of restraint and/or seclusion.

First, let me say, that best practice in crisis management and intervention has come a long way from restraint and seclusion. Trauma informed care and restraint and seclusion free policies are in place at the local level across the country. If the state of Va is not prepared to implement current best practice for crisis management, I would like the following to be considered. 

1) The use of prone restraints must be banned, as well as any restraint that impedes breathing.  These have resulted in student and detainee deaths across the nation. 

2) It must be clear that r/s should only be used in an emergency situation.  There can be no room for interpretation.  "To quell a disturbance or to maintain order and control, or  for insubordination" can be defined in multiple ways.  Using r/s should never be a judgement call.

Any time staff physically restrain or seclude a student there are huge risks for the students, staff and school divisions.

If the VADOE must maintain a r/s policy, my recommendation, is that within that policy there are requirements to train all teachers, administrators, staff, (to include bus drivers) on de-escalation techniques, trauma informed care, AND best practice in crisis management and intervention to include options for NO use of r/s. And most importantly, attached funding to the required  training.

Having worked in a VA state MR training center back in the 80's on a special behavior unit and having had experience restraining and secluding residents routinely and being part of a 3 man team that broke a young man's arm during a prone restraint with cuffs, I can tell you that tragedy haunts me to this day. VADOE r/s policy needs to keep students and staff safe recognizing the field has learned a lot since the 80's.  My fear is that current policy does not reflect that current best practice. 

 


4/18/19  6:16 pm
Commenter: Teresa Champion, Virginia Autism Project

Ban Restraint and Seclusion
 

DATE:  April 18, 2019

TO:  The Virginia Department of Education

FROM:  The Board of Directors for the Virginia Autism Project

RE:  Proposed Regulation Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia.

The Virginia Autism Project (VAP), a non-profit established in 2009 to advise and collaborate with federal, state and local decision makers on issues and legislation that impacts individuals with a diagnosis of autism in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  VAP respectfully submits the following comments on the proposed Regulation Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia.

VAP proposes that the Commonwealth of Virginia bans the use of restraint and seclusion in elementary and secondary schools. 

1. The restraint and seclusion of a child violate basic human rights and should never be used in public schools.
2. All children have the right to be free from physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety, and any restraint or seclusion imposed solely for purposes of discipline or convenience.
3. Safe, effective, evidence-based strategies are available to support children who display challenging behaviors in school settings. Training for staff focused on the dangers of restraint and seclusion as well as training in evidence-based positive behavior supports, de-escalation techniques, and physical restraint and seclusion prevention can reduce the incidence of injury, trauma, and death.
4. School staff have the right to work in a safe environment and should be provided training, resources, and support to prevent injury and trauma to themselves and others.
5. Restraint and seclusion have resulted in serious physical injury, psychological trauma, and death to children in public and private schools. National research shows students have been subjected to restraint and seclusion in schools as a means of discipline, to force compliance, or as a substitute for appropriate educational and behavioral support.  (Text from HR7124 Keeping All Students Safe Act, sponsored by Congressman Don Beyer, November 14, 2018.)

At the very least, VAP urges the Board to amend these regulations to better protect the health, safety, and welfare of children in public schools throughout Virginia.

  • Restore language explicitly prohibiting prone restraint (Proposed 8VAC20-750-30).
  • Eliminate language that allowed for the seclusion of students during investigations of a violation of the code of student conduct (Proposed 8VAC20-750-10).
  • Clarify that restraint and seclusion may be used only when necessary because of "imminent threat of serious physical harm to self or others" and clearly define that term so there is no doubt of what that scenario would look like. (Proposed 8VAC20-750-40) It must never be used to maintain order and control when no one is in physical danger.
  • Eliminate the exclusion of "incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control" from the purview of the regulations (Proposed 8VAC20-750-10).
  • Make sure that restraint and seclusion are specifically prohibited for the prevention of property damage. 
  • Require consistent and prompt same day notice to parents.
  • Mandate consistent reporting to the state and federal Department of Education.
  • Clarify the definition of “employees” so that all personnel, including transportation staff, are properly trained in trauma-informed approaches to de-escalation of someone with a disability diagnosis, sensory disorder, communication disorder and/or processing disorder.
    • Instruct school staff on how to look for triggers, manage challenging behaviors and limit the incidence and impact of complex behaviors in the classroom.
    • Research-validated classroom and whole-school strategies that focus on preventative practices not punitive.
    • Develop skills and knowledge to maintain safe, orderly and inclusive environments for meaningful learning for all students.

The trauma that results from a restraint and seclusion incident cannot be understated.  This is especially true when it occurs against someone with a diagnosis of autism who may have communication and processing delays.  Many families and self-advocates have come forward to tell their stories of suffering and damage that occurred during the incident and then the resulting long term negative impact and loss of a sense of safety and trust. 

In conclusion, the practice of restraint and seclusion, which is a violation of human rights, must NOT be allowed to continue and VAP would advocate that restraint and seclusion be prohibited.  At the very least, the proposed regulations must be strengthened to align with the US Department of Education’s Fifteen Principals for Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document.

Respectfully submitted,

The Virginia Autism Project

Board of Directors

 


 


4/18/19  7:52 pm
Commenter: Heather Luke

Restraint and Seclusion....the lifelong impact
 

Thank you for the opportunity to share written comments.  I was honored to make public comment during the recent BOE meeting.  On behalf of my son, Carson Luke, I would like to emphasize the lasting impact these practices have on children.  My son was 10 years old in March 2011, when he had 2 bones in his hand broken, an open wound fracture requiring immediate surgery and a bone broken in his foot while at a Regional Public School in Chesapeake, VA, SECEP.  Yes, he was having a behavioral incident but what seems to be lost in the conversation is that he was a CHILD with known disabilities who was surrounded by multiple adults hell bent on forcing him into a concrete cell.  The years of therapy have brought to light the myriad of times he was put into the cell and taunted by staff.  He is now 18 years old, has not been aggressive in many years and still suffers from significant PTSD.  He missing many days of school after being kept awake at nights with, what he calls, the "SECEP monsters."  Eight years later and he still suffers from the archaic practices that are currently legal in Virginia.  I continue to hold out hope that those who have the ability to change this practice will do so.  Each year that passes causes my hope to fade....Please consider prohibiting all seclusion and prone restraint.  I promise you that robust PBIS programs and staff who are committed will find the school environment markedly improved.  


4/18/19  7:59 pm
Commenter: Cathy Wolfe-Heberle, Blue Ridge Opportunity Services, Inc.

Eliminate all Restraint and Seculsion
 

Please follow suit with the other Commonwealth Agencies and eliminate the use of Restraint and Seculsion in our schools. At no time should restraint and seclusion be used to control others. After 28 years in the field of Developmental Disability Services, it is my experience that the use of power struggles do not work to change behavior.  This practice only increases an individual's innate biological trauma response and reinforces this pattern in the brain, causing long term damage and harm.     I personally work with adults with developmental delays that have spent their youth being restrained and humiliated in many residential settings or public school systems across this state and other states, a like.   The "undoing" of this practice and our current job in Adult Services is so much more difficult with this practice still being implemented.  The  development of trust and  relationships involving care and comfort  takes many years and much effort to overcome.  The public school system is only involved for the first 22 years of life...  Those  behind you have at minimum the next 60 years to provide supports.   Please lay a solid, trauma free, loving and caring foundation for the rest of us. 


4/18/19  8:37 pm
Commenter: Marissa Mancini

End All Restraint and Seclusion
 
Thispractice is barbaric, dangerous, and a violation of rights disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Children are people. Whole school practices that focus on recognizing and minimizing triggers, reducing stressful stimuli, collaborative problem solving, and respectful connection are key and attainable alternatives to placing children in danger. Isolation and seclusion practices are a red flag that we've failed to create an inclusive, supportive environment for our children most in need and most vulnerable.

4/18/19  8:48 pm
Commenter: Melissa

Restraints?!
 

I am a mother of 2 one with Autism and one without. There'ssome children that need to be redirected because of a situation where they may hurt themselves or someone else but, there should NEVER, EVER be a restraint technique used on a child to wear you make them bleed or break their bones. Why cant a calming spot be used to help with whatever may have cause their anger. Has anyone figured out what triggers these meltdowns?! Is it a change in schedule,?, How about something at home?, maybe a loss of a family member or pet? Why not try and figure out a better way to help these children out? 


4/18/19  8:48 pm
Commenter: Guy Stephens

#endseclusion
 

Our family has been impacted by the use of seclusion and restraint practices.  My son is currently receiving home and hospital teaching due to an emotional crisis that followed the use of seclusion and restraint.  The impact is real and lasting.  We can and must do better for our childern.  Virginia needs to act now to protect the civil rights of childern with disabilities, minorities and boys who are disproportionately impacted by these aversive practices.  If you choose not to act now, Federal legistlation may force your compliance, be a leader and stand up for your childern.    

What do we know?  

  • We know that seclusion and restraint can lead to significant trauma, injury and even death.

  • We know that seclusion and restraint are reactive strategies not proactive solutions to address challenging behaviors.

  • We know that science does not show that seclusion and restraint are effective in behavioral modification.

  • We know that seclusions and restraint disproportionately impact children with disabilities, minorities and boys.

  • We know Congress is looking to re-introduce the “Keeping All Students Safe Act”, which would ban seclusion in schools across the nation.

What we need?

  • We need schools to understand the behavior is communication.

  • We need schools to manage challenging behaviors proactively.

  • We need schools to adopt policy and practices for solving challenging behaviors.

  • We need schools to change culture and practice in terms of interventions.

  • We need schools to provide appropropriate training for teachers and staff.

  • We need schools to be accountable and transparent to the communities they serve.

  • We need schools to ban seclusion in our schools.

Why is it important?

  • This issue is important because the school to prison pipeline is a real problem and aversive interventions such as seclusion and restraint contribute.

  • This issue is important because seclusion and restraint leads to trauma in students, teachers and staff.

  • This issue is important because children have died due to the use of physical restraint.

  • Simply put it’s the right thing to do and we need to take action.

There are better ways to address challenging behaviors to prevent or eliminate the need for seclusion and restraint, here are a couple recommendations for our schools:

  • Consider a trauma-informed, evidence-based, proactive approach, such as The Collaborative Proactive Solutions (CPS) Model.

  • Consider crisis based interventions that do not rely on restraint and seclusion, such as the Ukeru System developed by the Grafton Network.

  • Consider implementing restorative practices throughout our schools, this is an approach is gaining traction in education.

  • Consider implementing a positive behavior interventions and supports framework with fidelity in our schools.

  • Consider working with families in the community to understand their concerns and meet the needs of all the children in our schools.

Respectfully,

Guy Stephens

#endseclusion

 


4/18/19  8:55 pm
Commenter: Linda Cunningham

Restraint and seclusion
 

I am a parent of a developementally disabled young addult with aggression issues, as well as an RN who has worked in Behavior health with Adults and teens for greater than 20 years. Restraining anyone usually invokes a negative response, flight or FIGHT, for example. Sometimes a person cannot be talked down but can be redirected, provided with a safe environment- and allowed to blow off their steam. This is not always the easiest option. Schools must be provided funding for training and options.. this is essential, so that teachers and caregivers can provide the safe care needed in difficult situations. Preventing the difficult situation is key and with out frequent training this is not possible.Adequate staffing is also paramount, and a dire need.  Children deserve this option of safe and loving environments, no matter their mental illness or disability.


4/18/19  9:25 pm
Commenter: Georgean Welichko

Prohibit seclusion and restraint in school
 

The research tells us that restraint and seclusion only lead to more restraint and seclusion, particularly with an increase in PTSD. Allowing restraint and seclusion, especially mechanical restraints, ensures a greater strain on government resources in the future and a lower quality of life for the child. Please end the abuse.


4/18/19  9:32 pm
Commenter: Lauren Ochalek, Education Team Allies

Seclusion is NEVER the Answer!!!
 

This heinous act of secluding any child should never, ever have been allowed. ALL seclusion and prone restraints should be banned effective immediately! 


4/18/19  9:41 pm
Commenter: K H

Restraint and seclusion violate human rights, basic psychology principles and fundamentals of IDs
 
The fact that this is even an argument completely baffles me. Special needs children deserve our support, they deserve our efforts to give them a quality education and a trusting environment and relationship to learn. There are few neurotypical people who are able to learn in stressful environments with the expectations of compliance. Why would we put a heavier expectation on a child? Our educators should have proper training in SUPPORT and deescalation. They should be able to restrain their impulses and assist the child to work through their needs. Sensory needs should be a top priority. Understanding of sensory needs is vital to many special needs children. Basic psychology understands that behavior is communication. That communication should be responded to with further respectful communication. I don't know any adult that would respond "appropriately" to a demand while they are experiencing discomfort. Children who are responded to with restraint and seclusion are being taught that they don't matter, not over the comfort of the adult in charge. I've spoken with some of these administrators and the way they speak about these children in personal conversations is appalling. They attempt to bribe children into behaving and ignoring their internal compass. They have no compassion. It's an unprofessional method. Is this real life? A CHILD in distress is forced into restraints and seclusion, causing further distress and people are okay with this? It's inhumane. Lock these administrators away until they can find a better way of communicating with children.

4/18/19  9:55 pm
Commenter: Julia Ward

Restraint and seclusion
 

I am the mother of 5 children, 2 of which are elementary school aged twins receiving special education services in a self contained classroom. I am also a member of the Special Education Advisory Committee for our school system. I want to clearly state I feel the use of  restraint and seclusion has the potential to be detrimental to the psyche and physical well being of children with and without disabilities. The  parameters used in 8VAC20-750 are concerning, at best, and the language is subjective leaving the guidelines  open to interpretation. During stressful,emergent situations the staff member(s) implementing restraint and seclusion practices should have clearly defined criteria and language to guide them while keeping all of our children and staff safe from harm. The proposed language “to quell a disturbance”,  “while investigating or questioning about violations of the student code of conduct”, and “to maintain order and control” is too vague and can qualify many different scenarios. Furthermore, I have seen no mention of giving students access to alternative means of communication to aid in de-escalating a tense situation. Some students may be non-speaking or not reliably speaking individuals that may have great difficulty understanding/nterpreting situations and the demands placed on them by staff which can lead to restraint and seclusion that may be prevented by improved communication through various modalities such as AAC devices, PECS, etc. VDOE should remember all behavior is communication and this is often the key to avoiding restraint and seclusion. Please consider the child’s perspective. To be restrained or secluded  can cause trauma physically and psychologically with lifelong consequences. 

Julia Ward 

 


4/18/19  10:13 pm
Commenter: Kris Walker

Just stop
 

it doesn’t work.  It only injures the most fragile children.  


4/18/19  10:32 pm
Commenter: Melanie Worrall

Restraint causes trauma
 

Restraint seclusion and isolation cause TRAUMA. It does NOTHING to improve behavior in fact it makes it worse because it invokes fight/flight response. In addition it is NOT used as a last resort and it goes undocumented. Once a child is restrained it becomes the “go to” response.
My daughter entered public school with a language disorder learning disability. In third grade she was repeatedly restrained and confined to a four walled cubicle for an entire year because the autism teacher said  “don’t worry all our autism students go through this it will take about two weeks but she will get it”  .....
She never “got it” but she was traumatized. We changed schools with a different approach and she was fully integrated back into gen ed for two years with glowing reports. No restraints. No suspensions. No calls home pick her up. We transitioned to middle school and within the first week of school the approach was back to isolation and removal and 
And now adding on interrogations for threat assessments which were inappropriate for a child with a LANGUAGE DISORDER. we had a total regression for 6th and 7th. We tried to advocate on her behalf, we offered a BCBA and behavior plan that we had success with yet it was refused and we were retaliated against with false reports to CPS. 
The timeline was clear. When my daughters disability was mistreated with restraint and seclusion the behavior regressed. When her disability was recognized and a different approach was used she thrived. 
She entered with a disability but through the mistreatment of her disability with restraint and seclusion her behavior evolved and escalated into TRAUMA. The behaviors of concern were not symptoms of her disability. The behaviors evolved and escalated to symptoms of TRAUMA. When the restraint and seclusion were removed and the disability addressed appropriately the behaviors DRAMATICALLY  resolved.
Despite many restraints, seclusion and isolations over a five year period there is no documentation of any restraints in her file and no mention of her true experience of trauma or restraint, isolation or threat assessments in the IEP. 
Despite what is the law the school is in full control of what is documented and how it is documented.
After the retaliation for advocating we were forced to removed her for homeschooling. She is once again recovering but the scars of trauma remain. 
Restraint, seclusion and isolation cause TRAUMA.
End it. It has no place in our schools.


4/18/19  10:44 pm
Commenter: Pat You g, Arc Florida past President and a grandmother

8 years ago my grandson, Carson, was injured being thrown into a seclusion room. He still expiernce
 


4/18/19  11:16 pm
Commenter: Mai Hall

No more restraint and seclusion
 

No more restraint and seclusion


4/18/19  11:51 pm
Commenter: Karen

Restraints and seclusion
 

Restraints and seclusion are wrong on every single level! No child should ever be in fear of being bound or secluded ever. It’s completely inhuman and goes against everything inately educational. Adults should never be allowed to make children feel undeserving of compassion! They’re children, not monsters and they deserve more respect and decency than this. It’s shameful, disgusting, emotionally and physically damaging... IT IS CRUEL!


4/19/19  12:02 am
Commenter: Michelle DeCarlo

Restraint & Seclusion is cruel
 

VA can set a trend for creative ways to keep our children and teachers safe.  Seclusion and restraint induces trauma and is negligent.  Let’s think of solutions that will heal.


4/19/19  12:05 am
Commenter: Joy Eason, Parent

Ban Seclusion and reform proactive behavior management
 

We know seclusion is harmful to all involved. We know we need greater fluency in the use of proactive positive behavior management. The solution is a comprehensive, technical teaching assistance network to provide continuous training and collaboration in addition to oversight and accountability. A successful model is ongoing in PA schools through PaTTAN. 


4/19/19  12:18 am
Commenter: Mary

End restraint and seclusion
 

Restraint and seclusion do more harm than good. Behavior is communication.  A good Functional Behavior Assessment  and properly trained staff are for more effective and far less traumatic for all involved.


4/19/19  12:45 am
Commenter: kristin l barber

I dont believe this is unnecessary to restrain or seclude any child
 

4/19/19  1:05 am
Commenter: Melanie Lickenfelt

What the School System Taught My Child
 

To Whom It May Concern,  

I have spent a great deal of time this past month  trying to figure out how to convince key policy makers like yourself—who will likely never fully appreciate the impact restraint & seclusion policy has on the lives of certain children & their families—to regulate it with the utmost respect to human development & wellbeing.  I have fought to compose the perfect message to persuade the public to limit its use to situations that pose a risk to human safety and study it at every opportunity on an individual incident level for prevention. After all that thought, I decided I should tell you a story…

Once upon a time—what feels like a full lifetime ago—I had a happy little boy.  He was sweet and funny and quirky and “strong-willed”. Everyone who met him noticed those pieces of him.  He carried around the Yellow Pages for nearly two years—even sleeping with it—until it was so beaten & battered because it was the biggest book he could find.  His “encyclopedia” that I had to pretend to read to him. He danced his “crab dance” randomly to make me laugh. He prevented other children from smashing bugs because he cared so deeply for all living things.  He was a collector of facts, stuffed animals, dinosaurs, and matchbox cars.

Then, my happy little boy started kindergarten.  Soon after, he stopped smiling—first at school and then at home.  Screams and tears of anguish & rage replaced his sweet smiles. He couldn’t handle all the people, the noise, the demands, the transitions, and the writing.  He was diagnosed with high functioning Autism. His initial behaviors were about avoidance. I know that now. Unfortunately, the worse he acted, the more he was given at school to placate him.  Meltdowns mixed with behaviors—frustration, anger, violence, destruction—and what was once at school bled into the home.

This one and a half years of unstudied unintentionally reinforced behavior led to my son being secluded on the sly and sent home two to three days a week until the middle of his first grade year—undocumented.  Once my son’s behaviors were firmly embedded and I pushed back on the school to find a solution to teach him, I was given an ultimatum to send him to Armstrong’s Comprehensive Service Site (CSS) location or a low functioning Autism program at Lake Anne designed for intellectually disabled Autistic children.  I was told if I did not choose between these two ill-fitting options, Forest Edge would “take the proper actions”—a discussion which referenced the kindness Forest Edge extended to date by not recording his informal suspensions and behavioral outbursts. I was told no other options existed. I knew nothing about private placement or the special needs world I had blindly entered.

Ultimately, my son was sent to Armstrong’s CSS location where he spent the remainder of his first grade year and the beginning of his second grade year in a “support room”—again undocumented, behavior still unstudied.  He basically lived in that “support room” during that time. I know this because I had to park my car and go into the school to get him out nearly every single day. Armstrong’s school program was designed around deterrents & reactive rather than proactive measures so my son failed to learn positive replacement behaviors & coping strategies and he struggled to control himself.  

This remained true until we brought in an expert to change their model, and a single teacher agreed to the expert’s changes during his 2nd grade year.  We saw improvements under her watch, but once my son graduated to another grade under a different teacher, the old deterrent system was once again used.  While at Armstrong, my son told me he did not want to be put in seclusion constantly and would refuse to go to school. With the fear of the “support room” looming and the stress of school building, he began peeing & pooping his pants at school almost daily.  He refused to shower, brush his teeth, and clean up after soiling himself. He started holding in a full school day’s worth of anguish to avoid the “support room” and unleashing it as soon as he got off the bus because I, of course, was a much safer outlet than the school.

For full years, I lost my son.  I lost my family. I lost myself.  My son was hospitalized multiple times during all of this.  The first time was during late winter of his first year of kindergarten at the age of five. He was the youngest person in the ward. Many staff voiced he was the youngest patient they had ever seen.  The last time was the spring of his fourth grade year. I begged the school to help him in any way possible. I begged them to provide one-on-one counseling as every expert insisted he needed to have within the school setting, but I was told the public school system is not intended for that purpose.  

Despite the constant regressions & behaviors, I was told that Armstrong was a success because staff could “manage” my son’s behavior.  Assertions of school success from Armstrong staff were bellowed until my son became so violent at home that the school IEP team advised me to place him in residential care while still refusing to admit their placement & accommodations were failing him and insisting the problem existed on the home front.  How ironic the school system could create the very emotional duress that necessitated counseling while simultaneously leaving my ill-equipped son to face the psychological ramifications and my family to deal with the very real consequences of his subsequent mental collapses?

At the end of my son’s 4th grade year under extreme my advocacy, my son was granted private placement at Phillips Fairfax.  At Phillips, I rediscovered a glimmer of the little boy I lost so long ago. Because his new school focuses on strong incentives and skill building on an institutionalized level and he receives the counseling he needs, I learned he could laugh again.  My son feels supported rather than “bullied” (his words) for the first time at school.

Understand, I am not at all asserting all my son’s problems are solved or that his serious behaviors have completely ceased because they have not.  Learned behavior and mental breakages are incredibly hard to undo and my son is still so emotionally fragile and angry. My family works every single day to be able to support him and admittedly that process can be mentally, physically, & financially draining, BUT under the Phillips program my son has a chance.  He uses the bathroom, bathes, and brushes his teeth. He no longer comes home from school daily crying and raging. He is excited to go to school and comes home talking about things he has learned like other children. The daily nightmare of watching my son come home soiled & wet and explode has stopped—a notable change I could see in just a couple months after he changed school placement.

I will never truly know the damage restraint and seclusion has done to my child.  I only know that I am still fighting to undo the violent outbursts that were unwittingly reinforced for years from a child who was never violent before entering the public school system.  I know I have lost years of supporting him appropriately during a critical developmental period. I know that after behaviors were reinforced at school, he was locked away by school personnel until he found a way to bottle his anger up and unleash it at home.  I know that sending him to Armstrong damaged his relationship with his family. I know he should have been in a classroom and not a seclusion room. I know that if I put him in a seclusion room at home, he would be taken from me and I would be charged with child abuse; I could not assert successful behavior management while using it.  I know the FCPS knew other accommodations & placements existed. And I know if they had my son’s best interest and mental & physical well-being in mind, they would have pushed for those alternatives.

I honestly don’t blame FCPS staff for their ignorance.  My son is complicated. I blame them for their negligence.  I blame them for choosing restraint & seclusion instead of helping him.  I blame them for ignoring their culpability once the violence spread to our home.  I blame them for all the hard choices I have had to make as I have watched my son’s mental well-being and behavior deteriorate as well as those I continue to make to address the remnants of what still remain.  I blame them for the shattered shell of that little boy that I placed in their care and entrusted them to teach years ago.

This experience has led me to believe we must have firm regulations governing seclusion and restraint.  I believe restraint and seclusion have become the easy solution to hard problems in children who have largely been given up on in the school system.  By locking these children away, there problems are all but forgotten at school—leaving their families to pick up the pieces.  These children learn ALL the wrong lessons.  Lessons like control equates to physically overpowering others and home is a safer place to unleash my frustrations due to fear & anxiety of ramifications at school.  In the meantime, lessons related to coping skills, compassion, kindness, respect, and self-restraint are wholly lost.  Sweet smiling children are wholly lost.  I know I miss the boy I had every single day and I cannot understand why a system that does not work at the cost of children is not readily changed.

Thank you for reading my story.

Respectfully,

Melanie Lickenfelt


4/19/19  1:40 am
Commenter: Amanda Henderson

Restraint & Seclusion
 

Restraint hurt my child. Unlawful restraint performed could have killed my child. No documentation showing seclusion of any kind & restraint  in her cumulative file prior to Feb. of 2018. She has been a student since 2010. There is only 1 documentation of restraint and it is so poorly written and the lack of info in it would surprise you. We have filed a complaint and it has been ruled in our favor. From the lack of documentation, to the REASON to even perform the restraint, to the way it was performed. Two people were responsible for this one incident. And I’ll leave you with this- between them- their combined teaching experience- Special Education & Adminstrative they exceed 40 years. 

 


4/19/19  3:00 am
Commenter: Jessica Vermillion

protect our most vulnerable children
 

A place of learning should never become a prison. The severity of restraint on a child, especially one with a disability, is traumatic. This is a very real fear, and a lasting trauma being done to our most vulnerable kids. Once done, it cannot be undone. Knowing the statistics behind the high correlation between children with disabilities and their future involved with the Dept. of Juvenile Justice (and prison) why aren’t we investing in these kids now, rather than prepping them, and normalizing a life of prison later? Why is there no PTSD therapy? Why can’t reports become instantly available to parents, the State, and the dept. of Education when physical restraint and seclusion occurs?  End seclusion and restraint. 


4/19/19  3:28 am
Commenter: Carla Luck

Abuse
 
This goes on in Fredericksburg also. They have "alternative" schools who use this type of abuse all the time. My son went thru it. They would pick him up by his arms and legs and throw him in a seclusion room. He has had his head busted from them throwing him against the wall. Bruises on his arms and legs. I had to fight with the school system for 3 years to get him out of schools like that. They tell you it is to help them, and try to justify the abuse. Parents have no say in any of it. My son went thru hell for three years because of the schools plan to "teach him how to behave."

4/19/19  4:17 am
Commenter: Sada

Unacceptable
 
How is this type of punishment worse than a spanking. First off they aren't even the parents and if a child came to school with these scares or bruises then CPS would be called. This is assault and anyone teacher practicing this method should be fired. What gives them the right to hurt children. Disrespectful and I hope this isn't a race issue.Parents press charges makes noise protect your children.If you dont stand up for them who will. They are innocent this breaks my heart. God bless these children.

4/19/19  6:01 am
Commenter: Rhonda Broughton Hobson

Restraint and seclusion of K-12 students
 
Restraint and seclusion a last resort to prevent injury is unfortunately necessary; however, I believe that it should be mandatory that the school administration and the parent or guardian be immediately notified of the action. Video of the event should immediately be reviewed by the school administration to ensure abuse did not occur. Report should be filed immediately and properly recorded. In the case of seclusion, it should be supervised by an actual person. Locking a child in a room is one thing, but a small space like a closet is completely unacceptable. Education on how to handle emotional and physical outbursts caused by a variety of conditions should be required of all faculty and staff if it is not already required. Ideally, there should be a dedicated space and dedicated qualified professional available every school day to oversee the students brought to them. We used to refer to it as being sent to the principal's office.

4/19/19  6:57 am
Commenter: Daniella Harold

Please stop using seclusion on our students in Virginia school districts.
 
As a parent, social worker and former SECEP employee I want to say that this is causing harm and trauma to children. The most vulnerable children, this is not something that should happen when families send their child to school. I as a TA saw alot of questionable actions by staff toward disabled children. Reading now almost a decade later that it's worse, has me concerned for my own children and will be bringing the topic up at my child's next IEP meeting to ensure his school doesn't use this type of behavior modification. I feel as if the schools should not traumatize children and then demand silence. We need to do better now and right the wrongs you've already committed by settling with families impacted truthfully.

4/19/19  7:01 am
Commenter: Danyel Brown

Personal experience with IDP ( Intensive Day Program)
 
I personally feel they need to do something to prevent any further damage emotionally and physically towards these children by using excessive force and also excluding them by placing them in a what I call jail cell. My 15 year old son who has Autism was educated in Chesterfield County through what's called the IDP Program for children that have behavioral issues. That was the biggest mistake that I ever made to allow him to be in that program. I watched that program break my son down emotionally and physically for 3 1/2 years. They had what was called the cool down room and basically it was a padded room with a door that they would close you in just so they didnt have to deal with you and to some kids especially with disabilities that's not a good thing. Why treat them like animals and cage them up. Also the way the staff members would restrain, degrade and talk down on the students was our last straw with my son being in that program. They told us for years that my son was not capable of handling mainstream classes due to his behavior but we made a conscious decision to remove him out from the program and back into regular classes. He has excelled and done extremely well without issue other than the emotional piece. He gets teased and talked about for how the program was designed and how they were secluded from everyone else like they didnt belong or something. They need to be removed from all schools and the whole restraining piece needs to cease as well because so many people have taken it too far especially at my son's old school.