|TSD General Session Takes In-Depth Look at Seclusion and Restraint Issue|
|Written by Sylvia Arroyo|
|Sunday, 10 March 2013 14:15|
The TSD Conference held in Frisco, Texas, kicked off today with a general session on the hot topic of seclusion and restraint of students with special needs on the school bus — and when seclusion can turn into a violation of a child’s rights and needs.
Presenter Peggy Burns, Esq., an attorney and president of the Education Compliance Group, outlined the current landscape of seclusion and restraint, and elaborated on where school transportation fits into the discussion. She said possible federal legislation and regulation in the works could have unintended consequences on the bus, essentially removing a sometimes-necessary behavior strategy used by educators and student transporters. It also could lead to possibly removing more students with disabilities from public school settings and school vehicles.
Because student transporters think of restraint in the context of child safety restraint systems, from a legal standpoint, Burns said they must answer certain questions first to justify the use of a CSRS on a student, such as: Is there a proper and improper purpose for physical restraint? When CSRSs come within the statutory definitions of a “mechanical restraint,” what are the implications? And what are the training implications with the use of a restraint?
Burns emphasized the importance of proper training to avoid a CSRS from negatively impacting safety as well as the student. Training also is critically important to help prevent civil-rights violation lawsuits against school districts, private bus companies and individual transportation personnel.
Sue Shutrump, occupational therapy supervisor for the Trumbull County Educational Service Center in Ohio, and Cheryl Wolf, special needs transportation consultant formerly with the Lafayette (Ind.) School Corporation, also were presenters. They talked about procedural safeguards when using CSRSs with students with special needs.
They stressed the importance of other options before going with a CSRS, such as trying less-restrictive supports first, assuring the same amount of support for the student in the bus environment as in other school settings, and documenting all the proactive steps transportation employees took that led them to use a CSRS.
Seclusion and restraint has been under the microscope since at least 2009, when the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and deaths of students within the context of seclusion and/or restraint in the past 20 years. Many of these cases were tied to time outlets where students might have been left alone or unmonitored in rooms in which they suffered some harm. Many cases also arose out of the use of physical restraint by educators with minimal training, explained Burns.
Editor’s Note: For more on possible federal seclusion and restraint legislation, read the article “Industry Wrestles With Seclusion and Restraint Issue,” in the May 2012 edition.
|Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 12:29|