What is Proper Restraint and Seclusion of Arizona Students?
The proper restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities is a hot-button issue in Arizona.
The state legislature has passed a law requiring all public schools to have a policy regarding the proper use of restraints and seclusions. This policy must be reviewed and updated every year.
What is the proper restraint or seclusion for an Arizona student? First, we should start by defining what restraint means.
Defining “Restraint” and “Seclusion” in Arizona Law?
As defined in Arizona law, restraint means any method of immobilizing or reducing the ability of a student to move their body freely.
Seclusion is the involuntary confinement of a student alone in space, unable to leave, or prevented from leaving that area.
So, we have our definition of what restraint means and what seclusion means. Now, we can talk about when the school can use that on a student.
When Can a Student be Restrained?
For a staff member to restrain a student, there must be an imminent threat of bodily harm to another student or staff within the school.
And there’s a second part: when less restrictive ways cannot prevent this imminent threat.
When There is an Imminent Threat
So, let’s talk about this a little bit.
Imminent threat means that you feel, as an educator or staff member, that the only way to stop a pending danger that a student may do—like physically harm another student or staff—is to restrain them and immobilize them. It is serious.
Some examples would be if a student were trying to hit or throw something large, normally like a chair or a desk, or they were trying to assault another student or staff physically. That would be an imminent threat.
When Less Restrictive Means are not Effective
And then, when we go to the less restrictive means. A teacher would ask the student to calm down, ask the student to leave, or try to communicate something verbally with the student to stop that imminent threat.
But if no other less restrictive means are available, then by state law, the educator or the staff member at the school may restrain that student.
School Policy on Restraint and Seclusion
Also, the school is likely to have a policy on this, which you can typically find in the parent or student handbook.
Another thing to remember is that if a student is restrained, it must be by a school staff member with specialized training. So, they know how to do this properly so that the staff member is not injured and the student is not hurt. So, that’s when restraint can happen.
State Laws for Seclusion
Seclusion, on the other hand, is the involuntary isolation of a student in a room or space they cannot leave.
There are special rules in state laws for seclusion as well. Students usually must be restrained to put them into seclusion. But if the teacher places the student into seclusion, that student must always be able to get observed. There must be a window into the room or in an area where staff always has eyes on them.
How Long Should a Student be Placed in Seclusion?
The student is only allowed to be secluded for as long as needed. So, if the student calms down, there’s no imminent threat, and they’ve corrected their behavior, then they cannot be secluded for any longer than necessary.
The other thing parents and guardians also need to know about restraints and seclusion is that if this happens, the school must notify the parent the same day.
If there’s some reasonable explanation that they couldn’t notify the parents within that same school day, they’re required to give notification within 24 hours. It is important. In state laws and regulations, the school must also notify parents of this.
Proper Restraint and Seclusion of Arizona Students
So, this is how a student would be restrained or secluded. Why there must be an imminent threat and no other way after they’ve used the least restrictive manner, maybe verbally or any other behavioral cues did not stop this behavior.
An educator with special training may restrain the student. And then also, seclusion may happen, but only for as long as necessary.
As soon as the student calms down and there’s no longer a threat, they must be placed back in the general education classroom or their general setting, and the school must notify their parents.
Arizona Special Education Attorney | AZ Special Needs Advocate Attorneys
Statistics indicate that about 112,000 students in Arizona fall under the special needs category.
That’s about 11% of the total student population, which suggests that this is a significant issue that parents and learning institutions need to understand. Unfortunately, some parents don’t know what special education means.
In the United States, the Disabilities Education Act protects the rights of students with a disability using various approaches. One of the main approaches in the country is using a Least Restrictive Environment, commonly known as LRE, to enable such students to access their education smoothly.
However, there are a few aspects parents with such students don’t understand, which I will elaborate on below.
Who Determines Placement of LRE Students in Arizona?
The first thing parents need to understand is that determining where they will place their child for learning is a collaborative effort between the school team and themselves.
The IEP or Individualized Education Program team, which comprises the student’s teachers, therapists, parents, and administrators, makes this decision.
Therefore, as a parent, you must ensure that you actively participate in all the meetings convened by this team. Your active participation is vital because you are the only person who knows your child best.
You understand their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses better than anyone else, and thus your input is essential in making the right decision.
What are the 2 Components of LRE in Arizona?
The LRE approach comprises two main components, which are:
The General Education Setting
Most people think of the general education setting when they hear the phrase ‘Least Restrictive Environment.’
It refers to the typical classroom setting where students with special needs learn alongside their general education counterparts. It helps such students interact with their peers regularly, learn how to socialize, and develop their communication skills.
The supportive services, on the other hand, are the extra services and accommodations that these students require to be successful in the general education setting.
These may include having a smaller class size, having a paraprofessional in the classroom, or receiving occupational or physical therapy. You must ensure that your child’s IEP team puts these services in place before placing them in the general education setting.
When is a Parent Entitled to an Individual Educational Evaluation in Arizona?
As a parent, you have the right to request an Individual Educational Evaluation for your child if you disagree with the school’s evaluation of your child. However, you need to know that the public school is only obliged to pay for one IEE per disability per student.
You also have the right to choose the professional conducting the IEE. However, this professional must not be working in the public school that your child attends. Once the IEE is complete, the professional will share the results with the IEP team, who will use it to make decisions about your child’s education.
How Do I Write a Letter Asking for an IEE in Arizona?
As highlighted above, you can request an IEE at any time as a parent.
You must include specific information to write a letter asking for an IEE, such as:
- Your child’s name
- The name of the school they attend
- Your contact information
- A description of your child’s disability
- The reason why you are requesting an IEE
You must also send this letter to your school district’s Director of Special Education. You can find the contact information for this person on your school district’s website. The goal of this letter is to give the school district notice that you are requesting an IEE.
It is important to note that you do not need to state a reason for requesting the IEE in this letter.
What is a 504 Plan in Arizona?
So, starting with the 504 plan. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act codifies the 504 plan, which grants civil rights to people who may have a disability. Some disabilities impair them in the classroom so they may need accommodations. Now, a 504 plan does not define what is considered a disability to grant a 504 plan—an IEP does.
Is your Child Eligible for a 504 Plan?
So, a 504 plan is just for anybody with a disability who needs support. Also, a 504 plan covers anyone, K-12, in the college setting or university, while the IEP stops at grade 12. Those are the main differences. It’s easier to qualify for a 504 plan than it is for an IEP when it comes to a specific sort of disability.
Scope of a 504 Plan
Also, the 504 plan is only going to address accommodations. It does not address specialized education or instruction. A 504 plan might look like students can take medication at school or have particular technology granted to them. Maybe changes to their environment, more time on a test, or being able to be in a quiet room alone if they’re taking an exam. Things like that are going to be more of a 504 plan.
It’s just an accommodation; it’s written on a document. That’s how it is. It’s easier to get, and the process is quicker. However, you’re just getting those accommodations.
What is an IEP in Arizona?
Now, with an IEP, this is when you’re going to get that specialized education. So, the school will pull you out for your child for special education. Although in an IEP, you might also get those same accommodations.
Let’s talk about an IEP. An IEP is codified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It grants people with a specified disability, and there’s a list of 13 categories your student must qualify under. And they will have an actual plan, a legally binding document.
How IEP Works
An IEP will give goals for your student to achieve and how they will get there. It is when we discuss accommodations, testing, progress monitoring, etc. You will meet annually to check those goals to ensure that you’re reaching or on the right track.
Categories of Disabilities
Then, every three years, the student will need to be reevaluated to see if they’re still eligible for the IEP. In the IEP, as I said, you do have to have one of the 13 categories of disabilities. And those are anywhere from:
- Emotional disorders
- Specific learning disabilities
- Speech or Language
- Visual Impairment,
- And traumatic brain injury.
Those are the main list and the categories; your student must qualify underneath one. If they don’t, they will not receive an IEP. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get a 504 plan because a 504 disability is defined broadly to qualify for it.
So, those are the main differences.
Special Needs Education Law Issues
The IEP is the document schools use to provide students with disabilities an appropriate free public education.
By law, schools must tailor IEPs according to each child’s individual needs. IEPs are specifically designed for the individual student and should not be confused with the school district’s general curriculum or other educational materials.
IEPs include nine elements that address all areas of a child’s educational competency:
- Must have statements of present levels of educational performance, both academic and functional
- Measurable annual goals
- Explanation of progress measurement
- Individual education programs need a description of special education services
- Statement of participation in the regular education program
- IEPs and testing—a description of testing adaptations and modifications
- Disclosure of length and duration of services—they must explain services
- Statement of transition
- Age of majority
You should know that you have rights regarding school disputes as a parent. You can submit an appeal for your position on special education and how much time your child spends at home without being considered neglectful. You can do this by participating in mediation or another meeting where people from both sides come together to resolve their differences amicably.
However, if this does not work out, then due process hearings are available, providing more information about what happened between them.
If a student gets disciplined for breaking the rules, the parents must know about their rights under federal law. Students with disabilities must be treated fairly and equally by teachers or administrators, so they can’t take advantage of special treatment just because they’re supposed to leak out an IEP.
Special Education Lawyers
The attorneys with Chelle Law can assist with all Special Education needs in Arizona.
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