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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-081

On December 15, 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Monona Grove School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2015-16 school year, improperly utilized restraint and seclusion on a student with a disability.

Under Wisconsin law, seclusion means the involuntary confinement of a student, apart from other students, in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. Physical restraint means a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to freely move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head. The use of seclusion or physical restraint in public schools is prohibited unless a 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. Seclusion or physical restraint may only be used as long as it is necessary to resolve the imminent safety risk. If it is reasonably anticipated that physical restraint or seclusion may be used with a student with a disability, its 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 seclusion or physical restraint is used on a student at school, the principal or designee must, within one business day after the incident, notify the student’s parent of the use of physical restraint or seclusion and the availability of a written report. Within two business days of the incident, the principal or designee must prepare a written report describing the incident, and the report must be made available to the parents within three business days of the incident. The first time that seclusion or restraint is used on a student with a disability, the district must reconvene the IEP team to review and revise the IEP as soon as possible after the event. At that meeting, the team must determine whether the use of seclusion or restraint may be reasonably anticipated in the future. Unless there is an unforeseen emergency and trained staff are not available, physical restraint can only be used by a staff member who has received training in the use of physical restraint. The district must ensure that at least on person in each school where physical restraint is used has had training in that area and that the school maintains a record of the training.

On May 5, 2015, the IEP team meet for the student’s annual review. On September 25, the student’s IEP was updated to include specialized transportation. Neither of the IEPs mentioned the use of seclusion or restraint nor included positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies based on a FBA.

On December 15, 2015, in two separate incidents, the student was disruptive in the classroom, removed to another space, and physically prevented from leaving. The student’s behavior did not present a clear, present, and imminent safety risk. It does not appear that the student was physically restrained during these incidents. The student was also secluded prior to December 15th and despite numerous meetings between the parent and district staff, the student’s IEP was not reconvened and revised until January 20, 2016. The district acknowledges that it did not complete and make a written report available within the required timelines.

Since December 2015, the IEP team has met a number of times and the student’s IEP now contains positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies based on an FBA. The IEP also includes specially designed instruction to address the behavioral needs of the student. As a result of these actions, no additional student level corrective action is required. To ensure future compliance with Wisconsin law regarding the use of seclusion, the district is required to submit a corrective action plan to the department within 30 days. The corrective action plan should specify the steps the district will take to ensure district staff understand and adhere to the requirements for the appropriate use of seclusion, the requirement to reconvene the IEP team as soon as possible after an incident of seclusion or restraint, and following the required timelines for making written reports available.

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 2/13/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support


For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158