On January 30, 2015, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2014-15 school year, improperly restrained a student with a disability.
Wisconsin’s statute defines “physical restraint” as a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a pupil to freely move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head. Under this law, the use of restraint in public schools is prohibited unless the student’s behavior presents a clear, present, and imminent risk to the physical safety of the student or to others, and it is the least restrictive intervention feasible. If it is reasonably anticipated that restraint may be used with a student with a disability, the conditions of use must be clearly specified in the student’s individualized education program (IEP), and the IEP must include positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies based on a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). If physical restraint is used, the school principal must notify the student’s parent as soon as practicable, but no later than one business day after the incident. A written report of the incident must be prepared within two business days of the incident. The report must be retained by the school and made available for review by the student’s parent within three business days of the incident. No individual may use physical restraint on a pupil at school unless he or she has received training in the use of physical restraint, except when there is an unforeseen emergency and no trained staff are available. The school must maintain a record of the training received by the individuals, including the period during which the training is considered valid for the individual.
The student’s IEP includes seventeen positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies based on an FBA. The student’s IEP includes the use of restraint when the student’s behavior presents a clear, present and imminent risk to the physical safety to himself or to others, and it is the least restrictive intervention feasible. The IEP specifies that the hold to be used is the “Children’s Control Position.” On December 11, 2014, during a class, the student refused to follow a staff member’s directions to return to a line of students. The student told the staff member “no.” Staff reported the incident did not involve an imminent safety risk to the student and/or others. Staff reported they were not aware of the positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies in the student’s IEP and they were not implemented at the time of the incident. A staff member grasped the student’s hand or wrist and pulled the student’s arms down from over his head. The staff member held the student’s arm and clothing, and physically forced the student to the door of the room. Another staff member in the room escorted the student to the principal’s office. The school principal notified the student’s parent about the incident by telephone on the day of the incident. District staff investigated the incident and determined the staff member had used inappropriate force.
On December 11, 2014, the staff member used physical restraint by immobilizing the student's arm and restricting the student's torso from moving freely. This staff member had not received training on the use of physical restraint. The maneuver or technique was not appropriate and was not the hold specified in the child’s IEP. In addition, the behavior did not create an imminent safety risk and the positive behavioral interventions, supports and strategies specified in the IEP were not implemented. A written report of the incident was not prepared within two business days of the incident. The district did not follow proper restraint procedures.
On January 16, 2015, an IEP team meeting was conducted to review and revise the student’s IEP, review the FBA and behavior intervention plan, and determine continuing placement. The student’s parent attended the meeting with an advocate. At the IEP team meeting, the December 11, 2014, incident was described. On January 16, 2015, a written restraint report was completed. On January 16, the IEP team agreed: (1) the restraint form would be completed, (2) a thorough FBA would be completed by the special education support team to develop a comprehensive behavior plan to better meet the student’s needs, and (3) all staff working with the student would be made aware of and provide the interventions in the behavior intervention plan (BIP). District staff are in the process of scheduling an IEP team meeting to reconvene the January 16, 2015, IEP team meeting.
Within 20 days of the date of this decision, the local education agency (LEA) must reconvene the January 16 IEP team meeting, and within 10 days of the reconvened meeting submit to the department a copy of the student’s revised IEP that includes the FBA and BIP, and a copy of the completed restraint form. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the LEA must submit a proposed corrective action plan (CAP) to the department to ensure proper restraint procedures are followed and staff are informed of their responsibilities for implementing positive behavioral interventions, supports and strategies specified in an IEP. Department staff will work with LEA staff to develop the CAP and will monitor corrective actions to ensure compliance. 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 3/6/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support