Following news reports of instances of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint in Illinois schools last November, ISBE developed new rules to govern the use of these interventions. The legislature has also worked on legislation to codify those rules in statute and task ISBE with developing goals and benchmarks aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating these interventions.
Senate Amendment 1 to House Bill 2263 is the result of months of negotiations among special education advocates, school management organizations, special education cooperatives, and private special education facilities. The bill passed the Senate late Tuesday evening and is expected to be considered on concurrence in the House on Wednesday.
A synopsis of the bill is as follows:
Creates a grant program, subject to appropriation, to provide funding to implement school-wide, culturally sensitive, and trauma-informed practices, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and restorative practices aimed at reducing the need for interventions such as time out, isolated time out, and physical restraint.
Allows (but does not require) ISBE to contract with a third party to aid in the oversight and monitoring of the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint by school districts.
Goals and Benchmarks
Within 90 days of the effective date, ISBE will engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders to establish goals to reduce isolated time out, time out and physical restraint within 3 years.
Each school board shall create a time out and physical restraint oversight team (including teachers, paraprofessionals, school service personnel, and administrators) to develop a school-specific plan for reducing and eventually eliminating the use of time out, isolated time out, and physical restraint.
Progress toward goals to reduce and eliminate will be measured by overall reduction in incidents of those interventions and total number of students subjected to those interventions.
In limited cases, and approved by ISBE, the reduction in these interventions may be measured by the frequency of interventions on individual students and the total student population.
School districts shall report to ISBE annually for three years on the progress toward achieving the goals and benchmarks established. School districts shall notify parents and guardians that the plans and reports are available for review. Plans must include actions to:
- Reduce and eventually eliminate a reliance on isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint for behavioral interventions.
- Develop individual student plans toward prevention of the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint, separate from a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan.
- Ensure that appropriate school personnel are informed of a student’s history, consistent with federal and State laws governing confidentiality.
- Support cultural change including positive behavioral interventions instead of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint; effective ways to de-escalate situations; crisis intervention techniques as alternatives; and use of debriefing meetings.
If the school can demonstrate to ISBE that within the past 3 years the school has never engaged in isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint, and the school has a written policy prohibiting these interventions, they are exempt from these plans and annual reports.
Definitions and Regulation of Use
Definitions of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint are consistent with ISBE rules adopted last year (23 Ill. Adm. Code 1.285).
Isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint may still only be used if the student's behavior presents an imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or others, and other less restrictive and intrusive measures have been tried and proven ineffective, there are no known medical contraindications to its use, and the staff member has been trained in safe application of the intervention.
Isolated time out continues to be limited to situations if the adult in the room or enclosure is in imminent danger of serious physical harm because the student is unable to cease extreme physical aggression.
Unlike the current ISBE rules, prone (face-down) restraint is prohibited.
Following each incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint, but no later than 2 school days after the incident, the principal or another designated administrator, shall notify the student's parent or guardian that he or she may request a meeting with appropriate school personnel to discuss the incident.
(Previous versions of the legislation required the principal to convene 2 separate meetings within 2 days of an incident to debrief the incident with staff at the school, and a separate meeting with various school staff to debrief with parents/guardians.)
The meeting shall include the student, if appropriate, at least one school staff member involved in the incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint, the student's parent or guardian, and at least one appropriate school staff member not involved in the incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint, such as a social worker, psychologist, nurse, or behavioral specialist. During the meeting, the school staff, the student, and the student's parent or guardian, shall be provided an opportunity to describe:
- The events that occurred prior to the incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint and any actions that were taken by school personnel or the student leading up to the incident;
- The incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint; and
- The events that occurred or the actions that were taken following the incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint and whether the student returned to regular school activities and, if not, how the student spent the remainder of the school day.
At no point may a student be excluded from school solely because a meeting has not occurred.
Information to Parents/Guardians
After each incident of isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint, schools shall provide the ISBE-prescribed form including a copy of the standards for use of these interventions; information about the rights of parents, guardians, and students; and information about the parent’s or guardian’s rights to file a complaint with the State Superintendent of Education and complaint process. (Form available here.)
Contact Alison Maley for more information or any questions.