Idaho agency investigates schools over restraint and seclusion

The Idaho State Department of Education is asking school districts across the state about their use of restraint and seclusion, following a statesman’s investigation into the practice.

The survey — which was sent to special education directors at school districts and charter schools — aims to give the department more information about how schools use aversive techniques, the type of training that staff members have about de-escalation and how these cases are documented. . The survey is specific to special education programs and students.

The poll come after an Idaho Statesman survey revealed that children across the state suffered physical injuries and trauma after being restrained and isolated at school. Restraint is the practice of reducing a student’s ability to move their body freely, according to the US Department of Education. Isolation is when a student is involuntarily placed alone in a room or area and cannot leave.

A mother told the Statesman that her son slept on the floor next to his bed for more than a year after being isolated. Others said their children came home from school with bruises all over their bodies. Parents said they were not always notified after their child was restrained or isolated.

Charlie Silva, director of special education at the state Department of Education, quoted the article during a webinar last month for Directors of Special Education, intended to “address concerns outlined in recent news articles” and discuss disciplinary procedures and guidelines.

“We never, ever want to put a child at risk and we need to work collectively on how to approach and work with students who may exhibit problematic behavior again,” Silva said.

At the end of the webinar, she said the survey would help the ministry understand the issue more broadly. It’s not meant to be a “gotcha” for schools, she said, but it’s a way for senior officials to learn more about what’s going on in schools and what resources they have. districts need to prevent the use of restraint and seclusion. The investigation was requested by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra.

“We really need here at the agency to understand what’s going on in the schools, and the only way to find out is to hear from you,” Silva said. “We really need to better understand the extent of the challenge in our schools and… more importantly, what can we do to correct it.”

The data collected from the survey will help the department better understand the need for additional training, policies or procedures, spokeswoman Kristin Rodine said in an email to the Statesman.

Districts were asked about policies, reports

The survey asks districts if they have policies or procedures on the use of restraint and seclusion and a system for reporting cases and contacting parents.

It also includes questions about the frequency, if any, of restraint or seclusion in schools as a form of punishment or discipline, a means of coercion or retaliation, or convenience, and whether repeated uses of aversive techniques trigger a review of a child’s behavior. behavioral intervention plan or reviews of positive behavior strategies.

U.S. Department of Education guidelines state that restraint and seclusion should only be used as a last resort, when “a child’s behavior presents an imminent danger of serious physical harm to himself or others. “. The practices should be “avoided to the extent possible without endangering the safety of students and staff”, the guidelines said.

Part of the survey asks school districts about the training staff members receive, including the percentage of staff who have taken formal de-escalation training in the past year and how often this is done. training is provided to school staff.

Silva said in the email that information provided in the investigation will be confidential and reported in aggregate.

This story was originally published November 2, 2022 10:40 a.m.

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Becca Savransky covers the Idaho statesman’s upbringing. She is a member of the Report for America corps whose position is partially funded by community donations. Click here to donate to help fund his position. Becca is a graduate of Northwestern University and previously worked at and The Hill.
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