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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-033

On May 12, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Kenosha Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, on March 18, 2010, utilized improper restraint procedures on a student with a disability.

The student is an elementary school student who is non-verbal. On February 16, 2010, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was conducted to address the student’s physical aggressiveness toward other students and staff. The team believed the student’s inability to verbally communicate her needs could be a reason for the negative behavior. The IEP team provided the student with a choice board so she could better indicate her needs and wants and increased the student’s use of her communication system book and visual schedule. The team also conducted a functional behavior assessment (FBA) and developed a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). The plan included a verbal response and visual support to be used when the student was hitting. District staff was typically able to use these strategies and tools to effectively address the student’s behavior.

The complainant states restraint was inappropriately used on March 18, 2010 with the student. On March 18, 2010, the student was hitting and pushing both students and staff in the classroom over an extended period of time. Staff tried redirection and used the verbal response and visual support as outlined in the IEP. The student was unable to be redirected into an appropriate activity, and the principal was contacted. The principal suggested the student go out for recess, hoping that outside activity might decrease the behaviors. This was unsuccessful, and the principal walked the student to a conference room. The principal asked the special education teacher to accompany them. In the conference room, the student sat at a table between the principal and special education teacher. The student continued to hit. Both the principal and the classroom teacher used the verbal response and visual support with the student and tried other interventions, but they were unable to calm her and she continued to hit. At different times, the principal and the teacher attempted to put their hands over the student’s hands for brief periods in an effort to prevent the student from hitting them, but the student pulled her hands away and continued hitting. The principal then contacted the parents and they took her home. At that time, the student had been physically aggressive for approximately two hours, and the student was in the conference room with the principal and another staff person for approximately 20 minutes. The student’s behavior was atypical on that date in that she was unusually aggressive over an extended period of time, was unusually agitated, and was unable to be calmed by previously successful interventions. District staff responded appropriately in this situation. After the incident, the district also conducted multiple IEP team meetings to continue to review and revise the student’s IEP and address parent concerns.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST/SJP 7/12/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy