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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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Department of Education
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State Board of Education
chapter
[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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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