There appears to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding the State of California and its poor enforcement of special education law. Today’s post seeks to provide clarity as to what the 9th Circuit determined and what it means for families of students with special needs in California.
While it is the function of the media to serve as an intermediary between sources of news and the public to sum things up in an unbiased manner, because our world is so full of fake news and biased reporting, these days, we believe the first place to start is to put the actual decision and related consent decree before you first so you can see the actual outcomes rather than just our interpretations of them, so here they are:
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has made information available regarding the use of seclusion and restraint in public school and public school-funded settings for the use of educators, policy makers, parents, and concerned citizens alike. Click here to see this content.
All of it is important for parents and educators of special education students. I’m going to summarize a few key points here because it is so important, but realize that the federal info linked to above is far more comprehensive and includes additional resources that educators and parents can use that I’m not duplicating here.
First, USDOE has identified 15 key principles that it believes schools and parents throughout the country should consider when it comes to seclusion and restraint. Those 15 key principles are as follows:
Every effort should be made to prevent the need for the use of restraint and for the use of seclusion.
Schools should never use mechanical restraints to restrict a child?s freedom of movement, and schools should never use a drug or medication to control behavior or restrict freedom of movement (except as authorized by a licensed physician or other qualified health professional).
Physical restraint or seclusion should not be used except in situations where the child?s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others and other interventions are ineffective and should be discontinued as soon as imminent danger?of serious physical harm to self or others has dissipated.
Policies restricting the use of restraint and seclusion should apply to all children, not just children with disabilities.
Any behavioral intervention must be consistent with the child?s rights to be treated with dignity and to be free from abuse.
Restraint or seclusion should never be used as punishment or discipline (e.g., placing in seclusion for out-of-seat behavior), as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience.
Restraint or seclusion should never be used in a manner that restricts a child?s breathing or harms the child.
The use of restraint or seclusion, particularly when there is repeated use for an individual child, multiple uses within the same classroom, or multiple uses by the same individual, should trigger a review and, if appropriate, revision of strategies currently in place to address dangerous behavior; if positive behavioral strategies are not in place, staff should consider developing them.
Behavioral strategies to address dangerous behavior that results in the use of restraint or seclusion should address the underlying cause or purpose of the dangerous behavior.
Teachers and other personnel should be trained regularly on the appropriate use of effective alternatives to physical restraint and seclusion, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports and, only for cases involving imminent danger of serious physical harm, on the safe use of physical restraint and seclusion.
Every instance in which restraint or seclusion is used should be carefully and continuously and visually monitored to ensure the appropriateness of its use and safety of the child, other children, teachers, and other personnel.
Parents should be informed of the policies on restraint and seclusion at their child?s school or other educational setting, as well as applicable Federal, State, or local laws.
Parents should be notified as soon as possible following each instance in which restraint or seclusion is used with their child.
Policies regarding the use of restraint and seclusion should be reviewed regularly and updated as appropriate.
Policies regarding the use of restraint and seclusion should provide that each incident involving the use of restraint or seclusion should be documented in writing and provide for the collection of specific data that would enable teachers, staff, and other personnel to understand and implement the preceding principles.
Click here to download the podcast version of this article.
The whole country has been watching the shameful activities that have been going on in Atlanta, GA, for weeks now and my point in today’s posting isn’t to repeat what’s already been said ad nauseam about the Atlanta achievement score cheating scandal. My point today is to acknowledge the reality that people from all walks of life cheat and that public education is not exempt from this sordid side of human nature.
That’s not anything I haven’t said before, but I’m hoping that the enormity of what has been identified in Atlanta thanks to tenacious investigative journalism will help drive this point home for the people who have heard me over the years but didn’t really believe that things can get that bad, much less on such a huge scale. In a way, I feel kind of vindicated, though this is totally the kind of thing about which I wish I could be proven wrong. The world would be a much better place if I was just a hysterical nut-ball falsely accusing the sky of falling instead of the truth being what it really is.
And, the truth is that there are lots of teachers who cheat. Granted, I don’t think they make up the majority of teachers. Even in Atlanta Public Schools, which is a huge school district with thousands of employees, it was only about 250 educators who were implicated in the achievement score fraud, which dates back to at least 2001.
Compton, CA & surrounding area - Eric Fischer demographic map
This past April, DisabilityScoop.com published an article about “educational malpractice” claims becoming potentially viable depending on the outcome of a case that has now worked its way up to the US Supreme Court, Addison v. Compton Unified School District.
I’m not going to go into the blow-by-blow details of the case. You can get all of that on the Wrightslaw web site, including PDFs of the filing documents and prior decisions.
What I will go into are the many reasons why I think Compton Unified’s decision to take this issue to Supreme Court is insane.
Click here to download the podcast version of this article.
In a crisis, you will feel frightened, confused, guilty, angry, and helpless. Your common sense and good judgment vanish. What should you do? During a crisis, your first response is likely to be a big mistake!
I’m not going to repeat the whole thing here, but there are some really astute observations that the Wrights have made about the features and dynamics of a special education crisis. According to the Wrights, and I concur, there are three things that are likely to escalate a situation into epic crisis proportions:
The school makes a unilateral decision;
The school ignores information from others, including professionals and parents;
On October 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights issued an investigation finding regarding the use of temporary aides for special education. We are publishing it here in the hopes that the information can provide a constructive heads-up to other Local Education Agencies (“LEAs”) and empower parents facing similar situations.
The issue, in a nutshell, is the matter of LEAs creating policies that prohibit the application of a student’s unique needs to the development of an offer of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”).?In this case, the issue was the provision of aide services to children who require 1:1 aide support.