Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Alexa Posny Interview - Part IV

My recent interview with Dr. Alexa Posny, the new Assistant Secretary of Education for OSERS (the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services) covered a lot of ground. This is the fourth in a series of occasional posts concerning the interview over the next few weeks. "JG" indicates that I am speaking. "AP" indicates that Secretary Posny is speaking.

This post deals with whether IDEA should be changed in view of the revelations about abuse of seclusion and restraints, especially as used on children with disabilities:

JG: Let me give you a couple of specific issues and ask you whether or not you think they should be part of reauthorization. The one that's actually back in the news again this week is seclusion and restraints.

AP: That's correct.

JG: Congress has just offered a new law about that and not part IDEA, but do you think that and given all the things that were in the GAO report and that National Disability Rights Network report that maybe IDEA should beef up its sections on behavior-type issues?

AP: That's a tough one to respond to. You know, the revisions in the past and the versions of IDEA try to stay away from specifics, especially in terms of appropriate methods or methodologies or whatever. So, I'm not necessarily - - I can't give you a definitive answer, but I guess I would not be leaning towards that.

JG: Okay. Well, let me try it a different way. Do you think that maybe positive behavior support should get more play in IDEA somewhere? Because, basically, because behavior is only covered in IDEA as a vague reference in the IEP section and there's really nothing else except the part when there's a manifestation determination, it says there's no manifestation, which is very specific. But in terms of positive behavior supports, do you think we should merge that into IDEA somewhere?

AP: Well, again, often it's viewed as a specific methodology and you know, as a hearing officer, we don't even put that into IEPs.

JG: Right.

AP: So, we would have to stay away from looking at it and basically saying that we're supporting one particular methodology. So, will you see those exact words. My guess is probably not. But the information about training and providing professional development, about appropriate techniques, I mean, that kind of language, I'm sure. But again, it's been a term that's phrased because of response to intervention. Those words aren't even in there.

JG: Right.

AP: So, and it's very - - it's done intentionally.

JG: And some of us, as hearing officers, call that (methodology) the "M" word , you know (laughing) - -

AP: Um hmm.

JG: Because you're not supposed to say it or go near it. You know what I mean?

AP: That's correct.

JG: And it think that - - I understand what you're saying, but just the way that some kids with disabilities have been abused though, it's so horrible and it's just, you know - -

AP: Well, it's traumatic. I mean, no one wants to see that, but is the law to really - - you know, is IDEA the law to take that on? You know, I think that's the question more than anything else. IDEA has so much in it.

JG: Right.

AP: And believe me, I don't want any child to ever be hurt or abused or whatever. My first job was teaching emotionally disturbed middle school kids. So, believe me, I understand the behaviors their talking about, but there is, you know - - but to harm a child, oh, my gosh.

JG: Yeah. That's scary.

AP: Yeah, not at all.

JG: I haven't actually read the new legislation, yet. I just saw a release about it this morning. I don't think it assigns you any duties, does it, in terms of - -

AP: Well, no because it's really pertaining to all kids.

JG: Okay.

AP: It just so happens that students with disabilities tend to be probably the recipients of that more often because of their behavior, but it's for all.

JG: Okay.

AP: So, it would not be assigned specifically to us.

JG: Okay, and that's what I was assuming, but I thought you might already know because it - - if that course is proposed, it hasn't even made it through the committee yet.

AP: That's correct.

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  1. Positive Behavioral Interventions can be address in a BIP(Behavioral Intervention Plan) This can be obtained by having a FBA (Functional Behavioral Assessment). The problem is that IDEA or FAPE doesn't address some of the problems I have added below...
    A FBA should pinpoint the triggers for the behavior which then limits the outburst for the child.
    The problem with this is when a child doesn't meet a state criteria for special education. There is no IEP and so there fore a BIP is implimented outside a IEP with no oversight. There is no recourse for the parents. No 504 plan. One of the major issues I see is that schools don't understand the use of a FBA or when one should be required. IDEA needs to set a clear set of guidelines. What are the requirements during an evaluation needs to be more detailed and outlined.
    When does the behavior take head in the learning process of the child?
    What if this child has a LD, and put into RTI, will this only prolong the Identy of a child with a disability? What does RTI cover for behavioral isuses, Or is the behavior not a menafestation of disability? Should FBA be required prior to RTI? Should FBA be included into PDD and Autism assessments evaluation? Why dont the school refer children to a FBA's? Should a BIP(behavioral intervention plan) if determined from a FBA be implimented outside of an IEP? If so where to restraints play a part outside a IEP? Should a BIP that has restraints be an automatic for special education under IDEA? Shouldn't a IEP team including Parents have the right to what restraints are going to be used. Without an IEP for a BIP, the answer is NO. Is that then consider FAPE?
    IDEA needs to revamp the law to include more details of how a FBA and BIP are used, referals, when to? and so on. This could prevent a child from needing restraints and could higher a childs learning enviroment.

  2. Thanks Anon,

    I appreciate your comments.

    This is a tough issue.


  3. Ok so here is why I posted what I did.

    A estimated 240lb 6'2" male school Psychologist who proformed the Psychological evalution report and who helped in the FBA (functional behavioral assessment) Fell on top of my 40 lb son. Grade K.

    They have taken his BIP (behavioral intervention Plan)out of his IEP stating that his BIP is not related to his disability. Speech....

    That right and during his Autism evalutaion they didn't include his speech, nor did they include his speech into any area expect Speech/ Language. They say it's not connected to his behavior or his suspected Asperger's by his doctor and his Nuro doctor. There is no oversight with IDEA, No child left behind or even Child Find. There is no group per each state making sure these laws are being violated. Now to add restraints to this, there is no way. I actually REVOKED all services for my son last year due to they wanted to add RESTRAINTS to his IEP.....

    ARE THEY KIDDING< how about they just follow his BIP! That would prevent the excape. No, they don't have to is what were told.

    Then after I REVOKED Services for special education, the school then told me they could use restraints weather we agreed or not. So I had to remove my son from that school all due to they would not follow his IEP and BIP to keep him safe! Yet I have to hire an attorny with money I don' t have to make them accountable for following the law? This is not what Congress intended when they put IDEA. We as parents don't have the luxuary of Weaverly Law firm at our Beakon Call. We don't get Tax payer dollors to pay for our Bills.

  4. Here is a good link to information about doing functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans.

    One of the elements to consider with regard to this topic is how complicated and detailed these plans can become. First of all you need a great plan, and good plans - plans that are tailored to an individual child, are not easy to write. They are also not easy to implement. The teacher must be intimately familiar with a particular plan to make it work and must also be very skilled. Highly skilled professionals end up working with or advising those who work with, the toughest kids. Other students, who could probably benefit the most from a well-thought-out plan and from a skilled teacher don't get these services. Solid professionals in this area burn out quickly and/or move on to administration or academia.

    I get the feeling that the Feds want to stay out of the realm of pretending they have answers to some of life's most serious problems. Which is a good thing. Student misbehavior is a serious problem with no easy solutions.

    The reason methodology won't make its way into the law (here in the area of behavioral interventions and in other areas of methodology) is the same reason the government has trouble finding a reading program to back, nothing really works very well. Or nothing works consistently enough to get the thumbs up. There are too many variables involved. You have cultural, social, economic, genetic and medical factors involved. If a parent has money they will be able to find suitable programs. If you don't, it is very tough.

  5. Thanks Anon,

    I appreciate the information as well as your thoughts.


  6. Venting and ranting....that was.

    I will agree with the previous poster that it would be wonderful to have some more beef added to the law around behavioral interventions. If done correctly it would help many students without being burdensome to school districts. Extra funding would probably be needed and the Feds are probably unlikely to add more unfunded mandates with the current economic situation alas.

  7. Great post Anon,
    I have found that school useing BFA and BIP don't really understand them or there purpose. The main issue I have seen is a school is adding too many crutches into a BIP which then dumbs down the child. Too many or incorrect crutches will in time hurt the child.

    But that is the problem with it. There is no guidelines under IDEA.

    A BIP should not be used outside a IEP, this is why Congress needs to look more into the Behavioral issues that affect many students. IDEA should cover and outline more of a criteria for these types of behavior.

    Another issue to look at is how many Autism Specturm Disorder children are being denied Services, but are considered having just behavioral problems.

    Another thing to look at is the DSM-4,the DSM 4 is changing to cover Sensory processing/ intergration disorder, which has found to be related to Austim / ADHD. It looks like the revised publication of the DSM-4 has been postponed until 2013... so in the meantime many children go undignosed and can not help nor control having sensory overload.
    Sensory overload, can be as simple as a child walking into a doorway and finding 20 kids inside the room. Lights, or perfume.

    Example-One of the things that has help my child is riding the bus to school. He is the first to get on in the mornings and then the bus fills slowly with students, giving my son time to adjust to the sound of other kids, and the amount of them. By the time he gets to school his sensory stimuli is not overwhelming as he has had 45 mins of adjustment time in small increments.

    Something as simple of having smaller classrooms or sensory classrooms might work as well.

    When looking at Sensory issues, with ASD children, you have to keep in mind that giving these type children too many choice or directions can look like a bad behavior when in reality it is sensory overload. Something the child can not help and is affected by. Not somthing the child is seeking out. With many of these types children you will probably find Anxiety involved as well.
    If you limit the sensory, your at the same time limiting the anxiety, which then your outcome is, good behavior. We have to target the triggers, by assessing the different levels of sensory.

    Many schools will use a sensory profile, but it's not really taken into consideration on a level proformace. As IDEA doesn't require it.

    But under NO child left behind, one would think that sensory is a disabilty due to is cause an educational impact.

    but until the DSM-4 is published, many children who have ASD will be left behind due to the criteria standards. Talk about the M word!

    I hope I'm making sense....

  8. The US Department of Education and many state DOE's have known about the abuse going on in the public school system for years on children with disabilities in regards to restraint, seclusion and aversive treatments because parents have been telling them and begging for help and yet they have done NOTHING to protect our children. It took parents, advocates and national organizations working years to get this hidden secret out in the open to get national attention and now bills introduced.

    I can't tell you how many people I called and emailed for help from my School District, FLDOE, USDOE, DCF to the Governors office and no one did one thing to investigate or help. What kind of people close their eyes to parents begging for help to keep their children safe. I even wrote to Ms. Posny and Mr. Duncan but I never heard back from them either.

    I have been working on this issue for 3 1/2 years now and have met hundreds of parents who all had restraint, seclusion and aversive treatments used on their children in the public school system and turned to their district, DOE and USDOE for help and they all received NO HELP.

    The complaint system set up for parents to file a complaint with their DOE is a farce. I don't know one parent who received any help when they filed issues about restraint, seclusion and aversive treatments. My school district went as low as telling the DOE that they brought me in and demonstrated PCM restraints on me so that I knew what they were doing to my son. When I read this on the final report from the state DOE I couldn't believe what I was reading. I called the DOE and told them that this never happened and asked them for proof of this alleged demonstration. They said they would send me what the school district sent them for the investigation. When I received the package there was nothing about any demonstration. I called the DOE, they told me I would have to call the school district. I called and wrote to the district and they told me they could not find anything on any demonstration and that the paperwork must have been lost. This lie that was made up by my school district followed me all the way to due process where it was brought up again in writing by the school district attorney.

  9. 3 x Anons,

    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.


  10. Hello
    I worked very hard to get regulations passed in MA and could not believe how hard it was to have anyone take this issue serious. In 1998 my child and other children were being restrained in a potentionally deadly and abuse manner in a public school program in MA on Cape Cod
    My child was only age 10 and she was restrained for non compliance and minor aggressions. She was also put in a box that was built in the classroom
    In April of 2001 we did get regulation passed due to a video of my child being restrained that I made public.
    You can see this on this court tv segment of me and my child and other advocates.

    Court TV Violent lessons

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  12. Jean,

    Thanks for sharing your situation.


  13. I guess my question are when should a BIP be required to be put into a IEP?

    Can behavioral issues be consider an educational impact all by it's self if a child doesn't meet any other state standards?

    At what point is a BIP required to be in a IEP.

    Should it be a regulation that if a FBA shows that a child learning is impeded by his behavior then be consider a disability?

    If a BIP is required for a child educational needs, should the schools be required to provide an IEP for that child?

    To help reduce the restaints on a child, wouldn't a BIP if put into a IEP require school districts to follow these BIP to the extent of the law.

    Is having a BIP with restraints outside a IEP allowing schools to abuse IDEA? Under FAPE

    I feel that having restraints in a school for a child is the "last resort", and to make sure that the restraints law are being following to the extent of the law, the only protections the child has is in an IEP. Which then you have to take into consideration, is the child behavior consider a educational impact being that the child is being removed or restrained during school instructional time.
    How much of class instruction did the child miss?
    Who is responsable for reviewing with the child lost instruction time?
    When is this time made up?
    Or is it the child just miss out?
    Having positive interventions is good, but what about what isn't said or covered?

    My son BIP says that the teacher will write and read for him, but it doesn't state the reason for this, nor how they plan to teach him how to read or write. There are NO set goals for learning, but only to prevent the non disired behaviors which now have affected is ability to move to the next grade. My son will move into the 2nd grade but will not know how to read or write? He has good behavior but when is this considered and educational impact???

  14. I forgot to add, my son is now consider failing, he falls in the 6% for our school district. The cut off is 25% to be consider "AT RISK" So now my son is consider severly AT RISK for learning. He can not read or write.

  15. Thanks Anon,

    I appreciate your experience and comments.


  16. By signing the petition your U.S. Legislatures will be contacted.

    Protect Children by Supporting the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act

    Please click on the link below to sign the restraint and seclusion petition


  17. FLMom,

    thanks for the information.


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