Date: September 2009
On May 19, 2009, the United States (U.S.) House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing to examine the uses of seclusion and restraint in U.S. schools (http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/testimony/20090519GregKutzTestimony.pdf). In light of this national report, Arne Duncan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, has asked each state to publicize its policies and guidance for school districts to help ensure that "every student in every school is safe and protected from being unnecessarily or inappropriately restrained or secluded" and so that "administrators, teachers, and parents understand and consent to the limited circumstances under which these techniques may be used; ensure that parents are notified when these interventions do occur; and provide the resources needed to successfully implement the policies and hold school districts accountable for adhering to the guidelines." (see http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/090731.html)
The purpose of this memorandum is to publicize the regulations and guidance of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) governing the use of such interventions and to provide information to districts on the importance of developing a district wide approach to promote academic achievement while minimizing problem behavior for all NYS students. Protecting the health and safety of its students is one of the primary responsibilities of each school. As such, each district and approved private school, special act school district and State-operated school is required to establish a school district code of conduct and discipline that meets the requirements of Title 8 of the New York Code of Rules and Regulations (8 NYCRR) 1§100.2(l). Each school's code of conduct and discipline and behavioral interventions must be developed consistent with NYSED regulations that promote the use of positive behavioral supports and interventions and prohibit or limit use of certain types of behavioral interventions for students. NYSED regulations:
The attachment outlines the regulatory requirements relating to corporal punishment, aversive interventions, use of time out rooms, emergency interventions, behavioral assessments and behavioral intervention plans. Please reference the Official Compilation of 8 NYCRR for regulatory language and for any subsequent amendments to these regulations. An unofficial compilation of these regulations can be found at: http://www.dos.state.ny.us/info/nycrr.htm. School personnel should carefully review these requirements to ensure compliance.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
All school districts and approved private schools should be taking steps to implement school-wide, classroom, small group and individualized systems of positive behavioral interventions and supports. Schools that establish systems of positive behavioral supports and interventions have teaching and learning environments that are less reactive and that maximize academic engagement and achievement for all students.
NYSED has technical assistance resources available to promote school safety and school district implementation of school wide systems of positive behavior support, including a State Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative. PBIS is the “decision making framework that guides selection, integration and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students”2. NYSED will be establishing a State Technical Assistance Center on PBIS in the Spring of 2010 to provide further information dissemination on this school wide initiative. Many of the boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) also offer technical assistance resources to school districts on this topic. NYSED has also developed Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides relating to behavioral supports and interventions (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/techassist/behaviorQI.htm).
In addition, because social and emotional development and learning has an important role to play in making schools safe and maintaining a caring school climate; facilitating students’ holistic development; and enhancing student motivation, self-expectations and high achievement, NYSED has drafted for comment “Guidelines and Resources for Social and Emotional Development and Learning (SEDL)”. These guidelines promote the voluntary implementation of SEDL into elementary and secondary school education programs. Additional information on SEDL is available at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/sedl/.
Resources for Technical Assistance
The following are NYS resources for further information and technical assistance to promote safe and appropriate educational environments.
New York State Center for School Safety
Violence Prevention Technical Assistance Center
Student Support Services Network
Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers
Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides relating to behavioral supports and interventions
Coordinated Standards for Children’s System of Care developed by the Committee on Restraint and Crisis Intervention Techniques
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Questions on this memorandum should be directed to the Special Education Policy Unit at 518-473-2878 or to the Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education at 518-486-6090.
Attachment - Outlines the regulatory requirements relating to corporal punishment, aversive interventions, use of time out rooms, emergency interventions, behavioral assessments and behavioral intervention plans