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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 course of action developed as a result of a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) for a specific student using positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports, to address problem behaviors exhibited by the student in the education setting.

  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.

  6. Individual 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. Individual Education Program Team – A school/parent based team established to consider the identification, evaluation, program, or placement for all students suspected of, or identified as, needing special education and related services.

  8. Mechanical Restraint – Any device or material attached or adjacent to the student’s body which restricts freedom of movement or normal access to any portion of the student’s body and that the student cannot easily remove.

  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).

    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 – Use of physical force that restricts the free movement of all or a portion of the student’s body without the use of any device or material.

  11. Positive Behavior Support – A continuum of positive interventions, strategies, and supports that teach appropriate behaviors and replace inappropriate behaviors.

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

  13. Seclusion – Confinement of a student to a supervised area alone for a limited period of time during which the student is physically prevented from leaving so that the student has an opportunity to regain self-control.

  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, health assistants, 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.

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. Trained school staff members will only 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:

    1. 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; or

    2. The student’s BIP describes the specific behaviors and circumstances under which physical restraint or seclusion may be used; or

    3. The parents of a nondisabled student have otherwise provided written consent for the use of physical restraint or seclusion while a BIP is being developed.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

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

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

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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 Board of Education will, upon request, submit any information regarding any matter related to physical restraint or seclusion practices to the MSDE.

  14. 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 schoolwide 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

  1. Legal

    • 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, Family Law Article, §5-507

    • COMAR 13A.08.04, Student Behavior Interventions

  2. Other Board Policies

  3. Relevant Data Sources

  4. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: June 8, 2017

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

REVISED:

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2017