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DESE Meeting Regarding Seclusion and Restraint Model Policy

November 18, 2009


First, let me apologize for being quiet on the issues of restraint and seclusion over the past several months...homeschooling my two boys does not allow for much time or energy elsewhere!

I wanted to alert you that it appears as if the legislation passed last session regarding restraint and seclusion (http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/c100-199/1600000263.htm) was written and is being interpreted as applying to all students, not just special education students. In the June SEAP meeting minutes (http://dese.mo.gov/divspeced/Administration/AdvisoryPanel/94142mainpage.html), it is noted that "The policy will not be specific to students with disabilities....If the panel would like to share input or make recommendations to DESE specific to students with disabilities, they are welcome to do so or if there is a draft policy, they may want to review and make recommendations at that time."

The statute also allows these procedures to be used as discipline or behavior management, and not just in case of "imminent harm" or in an emergency. Granted it says being “locked” in a room unsupervised isn't allowed, but I believe this will be interpreted as 'mechanical lock' and that egress can still be blocked and/or doors can still be held shut while someone ‘supervises’ intermittently through a tiny window.

I contacted one of the co-chairs Tom Quinn Assistant Commissioner Career Education (Cynthia Quetsch, Legal Counsel, Division of Special Education, is the other co-chair) and was informed that the first meeting regarding the restraint and seclusion model policy had not yet occurred and would be this Thursday, November 19, 2009. I was told this was an open meeting, where observers were allowed to attend. I was unable to confirm who the other attendees will be, but noticed on the agenda that someone from CPI (http://www.crisisprevention.com/) will be presenting and the agenda doesn’t appear to discuss PREVENTION (see attachments). Invitees were also sent position statements from The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, which do go into detail about the need for prevention.

I have two major concerns (outside of the fact that districts do not have to implement this model policy or that there are not any repercussions for abusing restraint and seclusion):

1) If the model policy only addresses WHY, WHEN, and HOW to restrain or seclude, we are once again setting our children up to fail. Behaviors should not be addressed only when they reach crisis levels. Where does prevention, support, accommodation, modification, etc. fit into this?

2) Will districts use language such as “unless instructed/allowed otherwise in a students IEP” that forbids certain practices unless they are specified in a student’s IEP. Restraint and seclusion (I am not referring to limited time out or self-directed isolation) should not be allowed as discipline or treatment, and an (unbalanced) IEP team (that often does not enlist a behavioral therapist or other expert in this area) should not be able to off-handedly make these a part of a student plan. In other words, a parent should not have to go to due process to keep these practices (as discipline or treatment) from being used on their children or feel coerced or misled into believing it is the ‘only option’.

Were you invited to participate or observe in the model policy meeting on THIS THURSDAY November 19? If so, please let me know. Even if you weren’t “invited”, please join me as an observer (I invited myself!) to make our presence known. We need to make sure children in special education aren't ignored since they are the population most at risk. Since special education students have been the population abused and mistreated by restraint and seclusion, I want to make sure we stay involved.

Meeting is from 9 AM to 4PM in the State Board Room at the Jefferson building. Apparently observers sit in a different area than participants (I’ve never done this before). I hope to see you there. If not, I will publish my notes at: http://nomoseclusion.blogspot.com/

Ange Hemmer
Missouri: Families Against Seclusion and Restraint

1 comment:

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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