Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2006

State education board considers restraints for special ed students

July 12, 2006


Right now in Kansas, there are no statewide guidelines for how teachers and their helpers should handle unruly special education students.

On Tuesday, members of the Disability Rights Center attended the Kansas State Board of Education meeting to hear proposed guidelines for schools to follow when special education students get out of control.

Advocates for the disabled said the mandates are necessary to prevent mistreatment of the students.

Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center, said during the 2005 legislative session he heard many parents speak about the mistreatment of their children.

"Hundreds and hundreds of parents from around the state came forward, testified and talked about how their kids were secluded and restrained inappropriately," Nichols said. "We have kids who have been sat on by gym teachers. Their arms have been duct-taped together as a form of restraint. They've been rolled up in gym mats. They've been placed in little boxes."

Those are the extreme cases, but members of the Disability Rights Center said they hoped a few guidelines would spell out what is appropriate when it comes to handling special education students with behavior problems.

If a child gets out of control and must be separated from other students, they can be placed in what's called a seclusion room. The proposal recommends the room be at least 36 square feet.

But board member Carol Rupe expressed concern about the small size. "Thirty-six square feet - that's about 5-by-7. It's euphemistic to call it a room. We used to call them time-out boxes," Rupe said.

Rodney Bieker, who presented the proposal on behalf of the Department of Education, said the committees working on the proposal had to take several factors into account when determining the optimum size for the room.

"If you get a room too big, the child might get a pretty good run in and hurt himself. You get a room too small, and you got a poor little child that's claustrophobic and can't even breathe in there," Bieker said.

Nichols said the proposal was the result of compromise among several groups.

"We've had many, many meetings on these with school officials and others. It's not everything we want. It's not everything the disability community wants. It's not everything the public safety community wants. It's a good compromise, though," he said.

The proposal also places restrictions on when and how a child can be restrained. Restraint could only be used by trained staff if the child's actions were putting the child or others in danger.

Supporters of the new guidelines said they hoped the state education board would be prepared to adopt the new policy when it meets in August.


tolawdjk 11 years, 10 months ago

What does the Bible say we should do?

Isn't there someplace in Leviticus where it gives the green light to sell them off to slavery? Or is that only if they are your daughters?

kmat 11 years, 10 months ago

I used to be a special ed teacher. I am shocked to hear that students have been put in boxes and had their arms duct taped. I am a very small person, and I never had a problem the few times I had to restrain a child. If you get an education degree at KU with minors in Special Ed, you are taught the appropriate ways to restrain children without hurting them (physically or mentally). They don't teach these techniques to regular classroom teachers. At least it's getting addressed now.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 10 months ago

Most states already have laws passed that rule it illegal to impose restraints on any student, let alone special education students.

Law enforcement officials can use their trained tactics as necessary.

I'm scared that the KS State Board of Education is involved--this could mean an immediate ruling of death to all special education students.

For God, of course.

satchel 11 years, 10 months ago

toladwjk, Maybe we could look at the Quran? I wonder what it says for us to do, maybe behead them since they are infidels anyway.. I mean they could never really understand Islam. Maybe we should just give in and become an Islamist nation, then we would have great burkas to wear and kids with special needs would just be put out of the way.

Or, better yet what about euthenasia? Yes, that is the American way... or abort them before they are born since they are special needs... wow, I wonder what bible that stuff comes from since it is being done in the United States and is legal. Oh yes, the secular bible of liberalism.. Abortion, and sucking up to Islam.

Calliope877 11 years, 10 months ago

Again, it never ceases to amaze me as to why some people feel the need to bring up absurd references to religion and the Conservative Vs. Liberals B.S.

Jeez, people, can we stay on topic for once?

My brother was in Special Ed classes for a long time before he dropped out of high school. His teachers were cruel and treated the Special Ed students like non-humans. I'm glad this is finally being addressed. There are too many bad teachers out there, and people wonder why the drop-out rate is so high among students, including Special Eds.

StirrrThePot 11 years, 10 months ago

My sister went through SPED, and it wasn't the teachers who were cruel, it was other students (and "normal" ones at that). My sister became a different person after being ridiculed throughout middle school--she picked up terrible habits as a result of her treatment from other kids she otherwise would not have done. To help alleviate these new problems, she had to undergo therapy at Mennigers. Can't we put mean kids in duct tape restraints instead?

Ok seriously...while my sister's teachers were amazing, there are scores of other teachers who are not, that is unforunate. People need to be trained in how to deal with the issue, not react to it.

Has anyone on the Board ever heard of MANDT? Probably not, since it isn't in the Bible...anyhow, it is a method of de-escalating people using physical restraint. The restraint methods are highly effective and are designed to restrain but not hurt the person being restrained. The system's philosophy is "Putting people first". Many places use it (including Osawatomie State Hospital), and I have found a few school districts on the web whose SPED depts use it also. There is training involved with doing it right. For more info, visit: I may need to write a letter...

Shelby 11 years, 10 months ago

this article depresses the hell out of me.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 10 months ago

some how this is the most scary thing I have ever read, be very afraid people we seem to be in a time warp going backwards.

ksmoderate 11 years, 10 months ago

Some schools put camera systems in the seclusion rooms to ensure the safety of the child. Other schools spend their money on bright new athletic uniforms.

A large part of the problem lies with each local school board and administration. The prinicpal and vice-principals in the community I work in could give a crap less about the special ed. classrooms. Really--don't you all know that sports is what school is all about in Kansas?

Linda Endicott 11 years, 10 months ago

Stirr, I work with developmentally disabled adults. I have had Mandt training, and am required to update that training every year.

We are no longer allowed to use any type of restraint at all. We used to be able to, but then the state decided that only a few people in each organization would be licensed and authorized to use any kind of Mandt restraint. All that the other employees can do is "redirect", or "assist".

In this organization, we have lots and lots of consumers, but only about five people who are authorized to use any type of Mandt restraint. Those five are not usually available to help when restraint is actually needed.

I suspect the same would probably be true in any school system.

I'm also very surprised to find out that it is allowable to put students who could injure themselves or others in a seclusion room. We are not allowed to do that at all, and they're adults. They have the physical size and potential to do a lot more damage than kids, but we aren't allowed to seclude them, regardless of their behavior.

ksmoderate 11 years, 10 months ago

Is there a better idea for isolation other than a seclusion room? Remember, this is a classroom setting. There is supposed to be teaching happening from bell to bell. I cringe to think of how many minutes of actual teaching happen in an average class period in most special ed. classrooms--as opposed to all the minutes spent disciplining/diffusing/isolating.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 10 months ago

When I was in school the principal had a long paddle, hanging by a leather cord, in his office. He wasn't afraid to use it, and we knew it. It solved all disciplinary and other types of problems quite well. If corporal punishment were reinstated in all schools, and well publicized, we wouldn't have disciplinary problems. Thank you, Lynn

windex 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh, good lord. Back in the days of principals with paddles, schools didn't include the kids this article is talking about. They spent their days in other kinds of institutions, not public schools. Get a clue and don't comment if you don't have any idea what schools are like now.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 10 months ago

hope things improve for the special ed kids! this is really amazing.
seems 99% of the time our detainees at Gitmo and Abu Graib were treated better than this!
this is dehumanizing and can't teach these kids anything good.

now for the controversy: these days there is a big push to mainstream kids with various disabilities and I agree w/that in most circumstances.
however, there are also kids being mainstreamed who simply shouldn't be! kids who disrupt education for others, take too many resources, or simply can't benefit from the social/educational environment being mainstreamed. you can't cook all the beans in the same pot!

Linda Endicott 11 years, 10 months ago

Well, actually, Windex, they did. When I went to school, teachers were still allowed to paddle students, and we also had special ed kids in the school.

StirrrThePot 11 years, 10 months ago

Lynn, We are dealing with kids who may not have the function or capacity to understand why they are being paddled. Some may not understand their own actions. All they get from this method is pain, and the natural response is to then try to protect themselves using basic instinct. This is NOT even close to the right solution. This is why institutions of the 1950s-70s do not exist anymore. You might as well use the duct tape and boxes these other teachers have tried.

StirrrThePot 11 years, 10 months ago

Crazyks--that is too bad. I think that everyone who works with people with disabilities should have this training. I am amazed that we would consider using the same tactics on people who in most cases cannot help themselves that we do on violent, convicted felons. Just when I think we've come a long way, it appears we haven't come all that far.

Kudos to you for working folks with disabilities. A major problem is we don't have anough patient, well-skilled people in this world who will.

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