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(8.24) Are there laws that specifically prohibit some behavior programming or techniques?

(8.24) Are there laws that specifically prohibit some behavior programming or techniques?

Yes. Under state law, “emergency interventions” such as restraint and seclusion may only be used when:

  1. Your child engages in unpredictable, spontaneous behavior, and
  2. The behavior presents a danger of serious physical harm to the student or others, and
  3. The dangerous behavior cannot be immediately prevented by a less restrictive response than the emergency intervention.

Emergency interventions cannot be used as a substitute for a positive behavioral intervention plan, last longer than is needed to contain the behavior, or involve an amount of force that exceeds that which is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56521.1.]

State law contains very specific guidelines on the handling and documentation of behavioral emergencies. After the emergency intervention, the school must contact the parent/guardian within one schoolday. Further, the school must “immediately” complete a Behavioral Emergency Report (BER) that will be kept in the student’s file. The BER must contain:

  1. The name and age of the individual with exceptional needs;
  2. The setting and location of the incident;
  3. The name of the staff or other persons involved;
  4. A description of the incident and the emergency intervention used, and whether the student currently has a BIP; and
  5. Details of any injuries sustained by the student, or others, including staff.[Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56521.1(e).]

All BERs must be immediately forwarded to, and reviewed by, a designated administrator. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56521.1(f).] If the BER is written about a student who does not have a BIP, the school must schedule an IEP meeting within two days to discuss whether one is needed. If the student has a BIP and the incident involved a previously unseen serious behavior problem, or a previously designed intervention is ineffective, the IEP should meet to determine whether to modify the BIP. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56521.1(g)-(h).]

Even in emergencies (and in all other behavior services), emergency interventions used by the school district cannot involve the infliction of pain or trauma. [Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56520(a)(4), 56521.2(a).] Specific prohibited emergency interventions include:

  1.  Causing physical pain, including, but not limited to, electric shock;
  2.  Releasing noxious, toxic, or otherwise unpleasant sprays, mists, or substances near a student’s face;
  3.  Denying adequate sleep, food, water, shelter, bedding, physical comfort, or access to bathroom facilities;
  4.  Subjecting the student to verbal abuse, ridicule, or humiliation;
  5.  Using an object that simultaneously immobilizes all four extremities;
  6.  Locked seclusion;
  7.  Precluding adequate supervision of the individual; and
  8.  Depriving the individual of one or more of his or her senses.
    [Cal. Educ. Code Sec. 56521.2(a).]

However, in a behavioral emergency, properly trained school personnel may use prone containment. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56521.1(d)(2).]