Parents Will Know Quickly if Spec. Ed Student is Restrained

By Paige Browning

When a student is physically restrained at a public school in Spokane, the parent will now find out within a days time. The Spokane Public School board adopted a district policy Wednesday night that puts schools in line with state law.
 
The reporting policy only applies to students on Individualized Education Programs and other special accommodations (504 plan), who are the most commonly restrained. Under the policy, notification of a restraint must go to the principle right way, to parents by verbal notice within 24 hours, and to the district office within two days. Spokane Public Schools Director of Special Education, Angela Johnstone, says restraint is used in response to spontaneous behavior by a child, but never for discipline.
 
Angela Johnstone: “We’ve always had a system in place of contacting families when in fact a student has been needing to be restrained and/or isolated. But this actually places in effect a formalization, and a required timeline.”
 
The district defines isolation as excluding a student from the regular instruction area, and defines restraint as physical intervention to control a student, which could include use of handcuffs, plastic ties, pepper spray, and other tools.
 
Last year the Washington legislature passed a measure that requires an incident review each time a special needs student is restrained, and the school districts are gradually implementing that procedure. The East Valley School District is having discussions about it now.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio
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