|Action||Promulgating new regulation governing seclusion & restraint in public elementary & secondary schools|
|Comment Period||Ends 4/19/2019|
Dear President Gecker and Members of the Virginia Board of Education:
My name is Rikke Cale and I am Special Education Teacher and 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 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.
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.
Member, Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE)