On May 8, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Eau Claire Area School District. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district improperly restrained a student with a disability in October 2005, properly developed the students individualized education program (IEP) and placement in April 2006; and provided services required by the students IEP between April 20 and May 8, 2006.
In October, the student was outside with staff and other students, and she broke away from the group and ran into a nearby wooded area. Police were contacted because initially the student could not be found. Staff did locate the student, and tried to redirect the student to the school building, but they were unsuccessful. Staff members then carried the student to the school building and the student was taken to a conference room. The student was restrained in this room by two staff members until the police arrived. Although the student was not physically harmed, in carrying and restraining the student, improper methods were used. The use of restraint was not part of the students IEP in October, although it was incorporated into the students behavioral intervention plan (BIP) in December 2005. The student had engaged in some flight type behavior prior to the October incident, but not to the level that occurred in October. Some of the staff involved in this incident had not been trained in the use of restraint. Other staff had not been trained in the last several years. The district maintains incident reports when restraint is used. An e-mail was also sent to staff with a link to the Department guidelines for the appropriate use of physical restraint in special education programs.
Since the incident, two of the six staff members involved received training in the use of restraint, and the district is providing training for additional staff during the 2006-2007 school year. As additional corrective action, the district must adopt written procedures on the use of restraint consistent with the department guidelines, the procedures must be approved by the department, and they must be disseminated to all district staff. The district, in conjunction with Department of Public Instruction staff, will also provide training on the Department guidelines and district policy and procedures. The training will be provided to regular and special education staff, administrators, pupil services staff, and support staff prior to the 2006-2007 school year. Furthermore, a written assurance must be provided to the department that only those staff members that have been trained on the use of restraint in the last two years are permitted to use restraint, and such use is consistent with the departments guidelines. The district must also notify all district staff of this assurance. All corrective activities must be completed prior to the 2006-2007 school year.
With regard to the remaining issues, on April 20, 2006, the parents removed the student from the school, homebound services were offered by the district on that same day, and the parent agreed to this. However, there was no IEP team meeting conducted, as required, regarding the amount and type of services and change in placement. The district began providing homebound services on April 25, 2006, although the district did not provide all of the programming and services required by the students IEP in effect at the time. Prior to the 2006-2007 school year, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether additional services are required. The district must also within 30 days develop a corrective action plan to ensure that staff are aware of requirements relating to change in placement and services.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 6/28/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy