back to main page Mass-DESE-Comments
Large collection of resources available here: http://specialeducation.wikia.com/wiki/SPED-Restraint-Resources
Reporting of restraint and time-out serves two purposes. It informs the family of what is happening so that they can best support their child and it collects data which can be used by administrators, the state and the public to help determine when programs are successful and when they need adjustment.
Time-outs as defined in the regulations can include isolation of students and that can be very harmful to a student. They may become afraid to go to school. Time-outs must be reported to the student, principal and parents as soon as possible. The experience of relational pain like that caused by isolation and time out appears similar physical pain in brain scans. See "Eisenberger, N.I., Lieberman, M.D., & Williams, K.D. (2003). Does rejection hurt: An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science, 302, 290-292." So time out and isolation can feel like physical pain to a child and it should be tracked and avoided. Please add reporting and review of time out occurrences to all the provisions of 46.06 Reporting requirements.
An example of time out reporting which requires confirmation of it's efficacy is seen in section "I" of the Texas regulations available here: http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&ti=19&ch=89&rl=1053
Programs may have challenges with student behavior due to restraint or time out and they may flare up quickly. There is significant turn over of staff and students from year to year. It is vital to the safety and efficacy of programs that problems be identified quickly for resolution, yearly reports to the state will not address that challenge. Update 46.06 (8) to be four times during the school year, October, January, April and June.
Report to the state may include information as defined by the department. Please add that they must include, at a minimum, copies of all individual restraint and time out reports.
Two or more occurrences of restraint of any individual student in a school year should trigger a review under section 46.06 (05). Each restraint is dangerous and two indicates a trend and the need for a review of practices. Some students whose programming needs review may not be triggered by the current time frames.
For example, in data reported by Lexington, MA to the US Office of Civil Rights for the 2011 - 2012 school year indicates a total of 42 restraints (http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Page?t=d&eid=30956&syk=6&pid=751 ) of eight children (http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Page?t=d&eid=30956&syk=6&pid=845). 40 of the incidents happened at the Joseph Estabrook Elementary School (http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Page?t=s&eid=258274&syk=6&pid=750). It's entirely possible that one or a few students were restrained repeatedly over a period of months but not three times within 30 days or two times in 7 days. Students who were restrained 5 or more times during a year clearly need a review so the regulations should be updated.
Reviews under sections 46.06(05) should include a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). FBAs are the only specific intervention included in IDEA. They are included because they are proven to help children based on many years of data over a very large population. FBAs should be part of the Massachusetts regulations as well.