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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-014

On March 2, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the [Unnamed] School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly developed the student’s behavior intervention plan (BIP), properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding parent notification, utilized improper restraint and seclusion procedures with a child with a disability, and improperly excluded the student from school.

The student’s IEP team conducted a detailed functional behavioral assessment (FBA) examining, among other things, the student’s behaviors, past interventions, settings, time of the day, behavioral antecedents, and the types of positive interventions the student responds to best. Based on the FBA, the student’s IEP team developed a BIP which describes both the behaviors and the specific interventions designed to address the behaviors. Positive interventions included in the BIP are redirections, verbal prompts, rewards, frequent snacks and breaks. Choices are consistently provided because lack of control was identified through the FBA as a behavior trigger. Concrete reinforcements and praise are used throughout the day. The student’s classroom has soft chairs and floor pillows as calming areas. Noise cancelling headphones to minimize auditory distraction are provided to the student, and one-on-one support is provided when the student is upset. The district properly developed the student’s BIP.

The student’s IEP provides for the use of seclusion, but specifies the student’s mother be contacted immediately when it is used. There was a short period of time when the mother requested the school district not contact her because she was starting a new job. However, when the mother told district staff she wanted to be contacted again, this was not communicated to the teacher. The period of time when the mother was not contacted due to the miscommunication was during January and February 2010. District staff met with the parent on February 25 to discuss the issues of the complaint, the communication plan was reviewed and agreed upon, and no further child specific action is required.

As noted above, the student’s teacher uses a continuum of supports and interventions to address the student’s behavior, including one-on-one support, and seclusion is only used as a last resort when the student’s behavior is an immediate danger to the student and/or others. The seclusion room allows for constant adult supervision, and there is always at least one adult staff member providing supervision, and in most cases, there are two. Seclusion is ended as soon as the student begins to display calmer behavior. Classroom staff are trained in crisis prevention interventions, and are aware of the department’s Directives for the Appropriate Use of Seclusion and Physical Restraint in Special Education Programs. A log is maintained, but it is not sufficiently detailed. The log describes antecedent behaviors, but does not describe the behavior necessitating the use of seclusion. The district has revised the log and will submit to the department a copy of the revised document within 30 days from the date of this decision. During a period of the school year, the severity of the student’s behavior increased; the student’s parents requested they be notified, and they would pick him up when seclusion was used. District staff realized, however, this arrangement reinforced the student’s negative behavior and conducted an IEP meeting to address the issue. District staff did not improperly exclude him from school.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 5/3/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy