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?
It’s defined in Arizona law, and it means that it’s any method of immobilizing or reducing the ability of a student to move their body freely. Seclusion is the involuntary confinement of a student who’s alone in space, who’s not freely able to leave, or who’s prevented from leaving that area. So, we have our definition of what restraint means and what seclusion means. Now, we can talk about when that can be used 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 either another student or staff within the school. And there’s a second part to that: less restrictive ways we’re not able to 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 as a staff member, that the only way to stop a pending threat that a student may physically harm another student or staff, is to restrain them and immobilize them. This is serious. Some examples would be if a student was trying to maybe hit or throw something large, normally like a chair or a desk, or they’re trying to physically assault another student or staff. That would be an imminent threat.
When Less Restrictive Means are not Effective
And then when we go to the less restrictive means, this might mean that a teacher would ask the student to calm down, ask the student to leave, or try to communicate maybe verbally something 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 as well, which you can normally find in the parent or student handbook or both. Also, another thing to remember is that if a student is placed in restraint, it must be by a staff member at the school who has specialized training. So, they know how to do this properly so that the staff member is not injured, and the student is not injured as well. So, that’s when restraint can happen.
State Laws for Seclusion
But let’s talk about seclusion. Seclusion, on the other hand, is the involuntary isolation of a student in a room or space from which they cannot exit. There are special rules in state laws for seclusion as well. Students normally must be restrained to put them into seclusion. But if a student is put into seclusion, they must be able to be always observed. If there’s a window into the room or if they’re placed in an area where staff always has eyes on them.
How Long Should a Student be Placed in Seclusion?
They’re only allowed to be placed into seclusion 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 that parents and guardians also need to know about restraints and seclusion is that if this happens, the parent must be notified the same day. If there’s some reasonable explanation that they couldn’t notify the parents within that same school day, they’re absolutely required to give notification within 24 hours. This is important. It is in state laws and regulations that parents must be notified of this as well.
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 that they’ve used the least restrictive way, maybe verbally or any other type of behavioral cues did not stop this behavior, then 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 parents must be notified.
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 indicates that this is a major issue of concern that both the parents and the 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 acquire their education easily. However, there are a few aspects that parents with such students don’t understand, which have been elaborated on below.
Who Determines Placement of LRE Students in Arizona?
The first thing parents need to understand is that determining where their child will be placed for learning purposes 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 key 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.’ This 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 they are placed 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 employed by the public school that your child attends. Once the IEE is complete, the results will be shared 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, as a parent, you have the right to request an IEE at any time. If you want to write a letter asking for an IEE, you need to include certain information in the letter. This includes:
- 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 off with the 504 plan. The 504 plan is codified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which grants civil rights to people who may have a disability. And there are disabilities that impair them in the classroom, so there may be accommodations needed. Now, a 504 plan does not give a specific definition of 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 really anybody who has a disability and needs support. Also, a 504 plan covers anyone, K-12, and then also in the college setting or university, and 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. So, a 504 plan might look like students being able to take medication at school, certain technology that’s granted to them, maybe changes to their environment, more time on a test, or being able to be in a quiet room by yourself if you’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. They’re easier to get and the process is a little bit 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, you’re going to be pulled out for your child for special education. Although in an IEP, you might also get those same exact accommodations. So, let’s talk about an IEP. An IEP is codified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And what that is, is it grants people who have a specified disability, and there’s a list of 13 categories and your student must qualify under one of those categories. And they will have an actual plan, a legally binding document.
How IEP Works
An IEP is going to give goals for your student to achieve, and how they’re going to get there. This is when we’re talking about accommodations, testing, progress monitoring, all of that. You’re going to meet annually to check those goals to make sure that you’re reaching or you’re on the right track.
Categories of Disabilities
And then every three years, the student will then need to be reevaluated to see if they’re still eligible for the IEP. 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 basic list and the categories, and your student must qualify underneath one of those categories. If they don’t, they would not receive an IEP. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t get a 504 plan, because a 504 disability is defined in a much broader term 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, IEP’s must be tailored to each child’s individual needs. IEP’s are specifically designed for the individual student and should not be confused with the school district’s general curriculum or any other educational materials. IEP’s 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 statement describing testing adaptations and modifications
- statement of length and duration of services- services must be explained
- statement of transition
- age of majority
You should be aware that as a parent, you have rights when it comes to disputes with schools. You can submit an appeal in order for your position on something such as special education and how much time she/he spends at home without being considered neglectful by taking part of mediation or another meeting where people from both sides come together trying resolve their differences amicably; however if this does not work out then there are due process hearings available which will provide more information about what happened between them.
If you have a student that is being disciplined for breaking the rules, it’s important to know about their rights under federal law. The student with disabilities must be treated fairly and equally by teachers or administrators so they can’t take advantage of any special treatment just because they’re supposed 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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