|Action||Promulgating new regulation governing seclusion & restraint in public elementary & secondary schools|
|Comment Period||Ends 4/19/2019|
Restraint and Seclusion
Dear President Gecker, Dr. Lane, and Members of the Virginia Board of Education:
It is with great thought and consideration that I share my ideas on the proposed regulations. As a special educator for over 18 years, I have worked with a range of populations and students with varying disabilities. I am dedicated to my profession and my students and have taken great consideration prior to sharing public comment.
First, I must be very clear that I am an advocate for not only the students in my district, but all students with disabilities. I know there have been some very significant and awful cases when our children have been hurt and it really pains me to even type, killed. This is not the lens of the propsed seclusion and restraint being supported-that is abuse. I think as parents, educators and policy makers and all stakeholders involved, it is incumbent upon us to examine practices for the range of needs of the children we serve each and every day to ensure we are keeping them safe; where we all know, physical intervention should be the very last option to support the challenges a student may be having.
Substantially, I do support the proposed regulations pertaining to seclusion and restraint as currently written. 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:
As a division leader, I am deeply 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 fully support ensuring all those working with our students are properly trained. Additionally, with such a mandate, I also urge that there be adequate funding to support this effort so divisions are able to not only comply, but embrace these changes supporting all staff to fully engage in the training at a deep level to best support our students. Without supportive funding, I believe this will add an burden for divisions who are often not even level funded to support the current programs. 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. 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, I strongly request that the school divisions and VDOE 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. Lastly, I appreciate the time passion, efforts and input of everyone involved.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment as you finalize the Virginia Seclusion and Restraint Regulations.
Supervisor of Special Education
Member of VCASE Legislative Committee
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