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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-050

On May 16, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Menomonie Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in April 2008, improperly restrained a student with a disability.

On April 10, 2008, while walking in the hallway with an aide, the student ran and exited the school building through the front door entrance. The aide was able to redirect the student back into the building. However, shortly thereafter, the student again ran toward the back of the school building and exited the building through the back entrance. The aide alerted administration, using a walkie-talkie, that there was an emergency. The aide was able to redirect the student back to the threshold of the building but was unable to get him to go back inside. The principal arrived and spoke to the student about needing to stay in the school building. The student again attempted to flee the building. This time the principal restrained the student and the student’s parents were contacted. During a portion of the time restraint was used, the student was in a face down position, the principal was straddling the student’s body, and the aide was holding his legs.

Physical restraint should only be used in an emergency, when there is immediate danger to either the student or others. If there was no prior indication that restraint might be a necessary intervention for a particular student, an individualized education program (IEP) meeting should be held as soon as possible after the first use of restraint. In this case, staff tried to redirect the student, but because of the immediate danger due to the traffic outside the school building, staff believed physical restraint was required. However, although the use of restraint appears to have been necessary, the technique used was not a proper hold.

The student’s behavior on April 10th was very atypical. The student had not attempted to leave the building prior to that day, and staff believe the student’s behavior on that day was an isolated incident. This was the only time restraint had been used with the student. On April 23, 2008, the IEP team met to discuss the April 10, 2008 incident, and a crisis plan was developed in case such a situation does recur. In addition, the incident was logged as required by the department guidelines on the appropriate use of physical restraint.

As corrective action, the district must ensure all district staff who may use physical restraint receive training on the appropriate use of restraint. Such training must be completed by October 15, 2008, and documentation that the training has been completed must be provided to the department by October 20, 2008.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 7/15/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy