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Policy 9400 - Student Behavior Intervention

The purpose of this policy is to define the process by which the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) promotes positive behavior interventions to ensure the consistent use of exclusion, physical restraint, and seclusion as forms of student behavior interventions in schools and to ensure that the use is limited to necessary/critical situations.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education is committed to providing a safe, engaging, and supportive school environment that fosters the social and emotional safety, dignity, and well-being of all students. In accordance with Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) directive, the Board acknowledges the need for staff members to use an array of research-based positive behavior interventions, strategies, and supports to improve student behaviors and exclusion from the classroom environment, physical restraint, or seclusion may be used only when lesser interventions are ineffective.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define the process by which the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) promotes positive behavior interventions to ensure the consistent use of exclusion, physical restraint, and seclusion as forms of student behavior interventions in schools and to ensure that the use is limited to necessary/critical situations.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) – A proactive, data-based, structured plan that is developed as a result of a functional behavioral assessment which is consistently applied by trained staff to reduce or eliminate a student’s challenging behaviors and to support the development of appropriate behaviors and responses.

  2. Corporal Punishment – Physical penalty or undue physical discomfort inflicted on the body of a student.

  3. Emergency – An imminent threat of serious bodily injury to self or others. It may not include verbal threats alone.

  4. Exclusion – The removal of a student to a supervised area for a limited period of time during which the student has an opportunity to regain self-control and is not receiving instruction including special education, related services, or support and is not physically prevented from leaving or returning to the classroom.

  5. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) – A systematic process of gathering information to guide the development of an effective and efficient BIP for the problem behavior.

    “Functional behavior assessment” includes the:

    1. Identification of the functions of the problem behavior for the student;

    2. Description of the problem behavior exhibited in the educational setting; and

    3. Identification of environmental and other factors and settings that contribute to or predict the occurrence, nonoccurrence, and maintenance of the behavior over time.

  6. Individualized Education Program (IEP) – Written description of the special education and related services for a student with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised by the student’s IEP team.

  7. Individualized Education Program Team – A group of individuals to include parents responsible for identifying and evaluating students with disabilities. The IEP team develops, reviews, and/or revises an IEP for a student with a disability and determines placement in the least restrictive environment.

  8. Mechanical Restraint – The use of any device or equipment to restrict a student’s freedom of movement.

    “Mechanical restraint” does not include devices implemented by trained school personnel, or used by a student, that have been prescribed by an appropriate medical or related services professional and are used for the specific and approved purposes for which such devices were designed, including:

    1. Adaptive devices or mechanical supports used to achieve proper body position, balance, or alignment to allow greater freedom of mobility than would be possible without the use of such devices or mechanical supports;

    2. Vehicle safety restraints when used as intended during the transport of a student in a moving vehicle;

    3. Restraints for medical immobilization; or

    4. Orthopedically prescribed devices that permit a student to participate in activities without risk of harm.

  9. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody, or control over the student but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian, as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care) or has been issued a U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Verification of Release form entering into a custodial arrangement with the federal government.

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  10. Physical Restraint – A personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move the student’s torso, arms, legs, or head freely.

    “Physical restraint” does not include:

    1. Briefly holding a student to calm or comfort the student;

    2. A physical escort, which is the temporary touching or holding of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, or back for the purposes of inducing a student who is acting out to walk to a safe location;

    3. Moving a disruptive student who is unwilling to leave the area if other methods such as counseling have been unsuccessful; or

    4. Intervening in a fight in accordance with Education Article §7-307, Annotated Code of Maryland.

  11. Positive Behavior Support –The school-wide and individual application of data-driven, trauma-informed actions, instruction, and assistance to promote positive social and emotional growth while preventing or reducing challenging behaviors in an effort to encourage educational and social emotional success.

  12. Restraint – The act of limiting an individual’s movement or action.

  13. Seclusion– The involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving.

    “Seclusion” does not include a timeout, which is a behavior management technique that is part of an approved program, involves the monitored separation of the student in a non-locked setting, and is implemented for the purpose of calming.

  14. Serious Bodily Injury – Physical injury which involves:

    1. A substantial risk of death

    2. Extreme physical pain

    3. Protracted and obvious disfigurement

    4. Protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.

  15. Student Support Team (SST) – A diverse group of school-based educators, that may include school counselors, psychologists, administrators, nurses, and teachers, that meets regularly to discuss the educational and behavioral needs of students. When necessary, this group also collaboratively develops interventions to support the specific needs of students.

  16. Trauma-informed Intervention – An approach that is informed by the recognition of the impact that trauma, including violence, abuse, neglect, disaster, terrorism, and war, may have on a student’s physical and emotional health and ability to function effectively in an educational setting.

IV. Standards

  1. Staff members will use effective classroom management strategies followed by a continuum of positive behavior interventions, strategies, and supports to increase or decrease targeted student behavior.

  2. Parents and school staff members may at any time request a meeting in order to, among other things:

    1. Conduct an FBA

    2. Develop, review, or revise a student’s BIP.

  3. Only trained school staff members may use exclusion, physical restraint, or seclusion after a continuum of positive, less restrictive or alternative approaches have been considered, and either attempted or determined to be ineffective or inappropriate for the maintenance of a safe, positive learning environment. The use of exclusion, physical restraint, or seclusion may be used only without intent to do harm or create undue discomfort and consistent with known medical or psychological limitations and the student’s behavior intervention plan.

  4. Trained school staff members may use exclusion to address a student’s behavior if the student’s behavior unreasonably interferes with the student’s learning or the learning of others and/or constitutes an emergency and exclusion is necessary to protect a student or other person from imminent, serious, physical harm after other less intrusive, nonphysical interventions have failed or been determined inappropriate; is requested by the student; or is supported by the student’s BIP.

  5. The use of physical restraint or seclusion is prohibited in HCPSS unless there is an emergency situation and physical restraint or seclusion is necessary to protect a student or other person from imminent, serious, physical harm after other less intrusive, nonphysical interventions have failed or been determined inappropriate.

  6. If an emergency situation results in the use of physical restraint or seclusion or school personnel have made a student-specific determination that it may need to be used consistent with Section IV.E. of these policy, physical restraint or seclusion may be included in a student’s BIP or IEP to address the student’s behavior in an emergency situation, provided that school personnel:

    1. Review available data, including consultation with medical health professionals as appropriate, to identify whether the use of physical restraint or seclusion may be unsafe based on medical history or past trauma,

    2. Identify in the student’s IEP or BIP the less intrusive, non-physical interventions that will be used to respond to the student’s behavior until the physical restraint or seclusion is used in an emergency situation, and

    3. Obtain written consent from parent, consistent with Education Article, Section 8-405, Meetings to Discuss and Evaluate Educational Program.

  7. If excessive exclusion, physical restraint, or seclusion is used for a student who has not been identified as a student with a disability, the student will immediately be referred to the school’s Student Support team (SST) or an IEP team.

  8. If physical restraint or seclusion is used for a student with a disability, and the student’s IEP or behavior intervention plan does not include the use of physical restraint or seclusion, the IEP team will meet, within 10 business days of the incident to consider: the need for a functional behavioral assessment; developing appropriate behavioral interventions; and implementing a behavioral intervention plan.

  9. The use of corporal punishment and mechanical restraint are prohibited in HCPSS.

  10. Annually, HCPSS will provide professional development to designated school staff members on the appropriate implementation of this policy.

  11. Designated staff members will be trained on how to administer physical restraint. Only those trained staff will implement physical restraints.

  12. Each school will establish and maintain a team trained to implement physical restraints in emergency situations.

  13. Each time a student is in a physical restraint or seclusion, school staff members will document the incident using Student Behavior Intervention Data Collection Form for Restraint or Seclusion.

  14. Monitoring and Compliance

    1. Schoolwide resource personnel will review and collect data quarterly pertaining to physical restraint and seclusion and forward it to the Department of Special Education.

    2. Data will be collected by:

      1. Total number of physical restraint and seclusion incidents,

      2. Total number of students;

      3. Type of physical restraint utilized;

      4. Length of time of physical restraint or seclusion;

      5. Student’s gender, race, disability, and grade;

      6. Behavior that precipitated the use of physical restraint or seclusion; and

      7. Number of students referred to the school’s SST.

    3. In cases whereby a student, staff member or parent of a student feels there has been a violation or a misinterpretation of this policy or procedure, the grievance process outlined in the HCPSS Student and Parent Handbook, Policy 9020 Students Rights and Responsibilities, and Policy 9200 Student Discipline will be utilized.

    4. The HCPSS will, upon request, submit any information regarding any matter related to physical restraint or seclusion practices to the MSDE.

  15. This policy does not prohibit school personnel from initiating appropriate student disciplinary actions; nor does it prohibit law enforcement, judicial authorities, or school security personnel from exercising their responsibilities.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee will implement this policy and will ensure that students and parents are provided annual notice of this policy.

  2. The Department of Special Education will monitor the use of physical restraint and seclusion.

  3. School administrators and HCPSS supervisors will ensure that professional learning occurs annually for all staff members outlining the key components of this policy.

  4. At the beginning of each school year, the principal/designee will identify a team made up of staff members who receive professional development and serve as a school wide resource to assist in ensuring proper administration of this policy.

  5. The principal will inform all school staff members that only trained and identified staff members may administer physical restraint and/or seclusion.

  6. The principal will inform the school staff members that corporal punishment and mechanical restraint are prohibited and that the administering of such punishment is grounds for disciplinary action.

  7. The principal/designee will make every effort to notify parents immediately, but no more than 24 hours after, both verbally and in writing, of an instance of physical restraint and/or seclusion and the behavior that warranted the intervention.

  8. The principal/designee will implement this policy at his/her school and ensure that students, staff members, and parents are provided annual notice of this policy.

  9. The principal/designee will receive, investigate, and document complaints regarding exclusion, physical restraint, and seclusion practices.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VII. References

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-307, Principals, teachers, and school security guards intervening in fights

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §8-405, Meetings to Discuss and Evaluate Educational Program

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Family Law Article, §5-507

  • COMAR 13A.08.04, Student Behavior Interventions

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: June 8, 2017

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED: September 5, 2019

REVISED:

EFFECTIVE: September 5, 2019