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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-024

On May 3, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Richland School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, utilized improper seclusion and restraint procedures.

All of the student’s instruction is in the special education classroom, and the student’s individualized education program (IEP) provides for the provision of a full time aide. At times, the student becomes agitated or frustrated while completing a task. Staff members use some positive supports and interventions to help calm the student and address behavior, which include use of beanbag chair and balls, movement breaks throughout the day, and placing hands on the student’s shoulder. The student is also taken to an area away from other students, in an effort to provide a calmer environment. Staff members remain with the student while in the separate area. Although the separate area has a door, it was never closed, and the student is allowed to leave at any time. With the use of these interventions, the student usually becomes calmer after five to ten minutes. None of these interventions or supports were written into the IEP, and behavior was not identified as a special factor. The teacher has received training in crisis prevention techniques.

On April 12, 2012, the student became agitated and frustrated while working in the special education classroom, and the student was directed to the separate area. The teacher walked behind the student. While walking into the area, the student slipped on a pair of another student’s gym shorts, that had been left by the other student on the floor, and the student’s arm was broken. Since the incident, the area has been reorganized and physical education clothes and shoes have been placed on shelves on a back wall in order to prevent future accidents.

The staff did not use restraint or seclusion with the student. However, staff acknowledged that the student’s behavior impeded the student’s learning and that of others, and should have been identified as a special factor, and that positive behavioral interventions, supports and other strategies should have been included in the IEP. By the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, the school district must conduct an IEP team meeting to revise the student’s IEP to identify behavior as a special factor and include positive interventions, supports and strategies to address the behavior. The district must provide a copy of the revised IEP to the department within ten days from the date of the IEP team meeting.

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. You may contact Patricia Williams, Special Education Team, at (608) 267-3720 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 6/28/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support