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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-070

On October 28, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the New Richmond School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2010-2011 school year, utilized improper restraint procedures and properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding notification of schedule changes or transitions.

The student’s IEP for 2010-2011 includes a positive behavioral intervention plan, which identifies behavioral triggers and includes positive behavioral interventions to address and prevent the triggers. Some of these interventions include use of a visual schedule, avoiding close proximity with redirection, positive reinforcement, sensory breaks, and use of social stories/video models to discuss situations that may cause anxiety. The IEP also specifies the use of restraint when there is imminent danger to the student or others, and provides examples of when restraint could be used. The school district uses an “incident/intervention report” to document use of restraint. The student’s IEP specifies that when restraint is used a copy of the report will be provided to the parent and the student’s parent will be notified by telephone.

On October 19, 2010, the student was restrained on two separate occasions. Staff members who restrained the student are trained in non-violent crisis intervention, including restraint techniques. Staff members receive annual updates or “refreshers” on the training. On both occasions restraint was used as a last resort when there was immediate danger to others. During the first time, the student became physically aggressive toward another student. A staff member intervened, and the student then became physically aggressive to the staff member. The staff member tried several positive interventions to de-escalate the behavior, but they were unsuccessful. The student’s behavior had been escalated for about 20 minutes before the staff member determined restraint was required in order to avoid further injury. As soon as the student became calm, the staff member released the hold. The second time, the student became physically aggressive toward another staff member. Again positive behavioral interventions, including use of redirection and a visual schedule, were tried for some time prior to the use of restraint but they were unsuccessful. The restraint hold was released as soon as the student became calm. The holds used in both incidents were ones taught in the training and identified as permissible.

District staff completed incident reports documenting the use of restraint, and in accordance with the student’s IEP, district staff telephoned the parents and provided the parent with a copy of the incident reports. The district followed proper procedures in the use of restraint. The student’s IEP was also implemented on October 19, 2010. The student’s schedule was not changed on that date so a prior warning was not required and the behavioral intervention plan was followed by district staff.

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

//signed CST 12/16/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy