The Kansas State Board of Education approved regulations regarding emergency safety intervention for students last week, which will result in some changes for Kansas schools.
The regulations replace guidelines passed in June 2011 and stress the importance of prevention rather than implementation of emergency safety intervention. The regulations come with a number of specific definitions, but ultimately conclude that emergency safety intervention is only appropriate when students pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. This approach applies to all students, not just those with special needs.
Any intervention, which could be seclusion or restraint, must be reported to parents, administrators and the Kansas Department of Education, and must also be discontinued as soon as immediate danger has passed.
Gordon Mohn, director of McPherson County Special Education Cooperative, said these changes mean two things for area schools.
First, staff and personnel will need to attend additional training on proper prevention and use of emergency safety intervention. The county currently uses the Mandt System, a nationally-used approach to behavior in adults and children.
Second, Mohn said districts will have to adopt their own policies. USD 418 would likely adopt a policy recommended by the Kansas Association of School Boards in spring.
“I think it’s important that we have guidelines and regulations for all physical interaction with kids,” Mohn said.
Although the state's approach is prevention, Mohn said it is important to know what to do when there are immediate dangers.
“You can't just stand and watch,” he said, “and if we're going to do something, we need to
make sure what we do is safe and we keep the child safe.”
Within one year, Mohn said McPherson County averages less than 10 cases of reported intervention. Most of these are at the middle school or elementary level.
“With the increased awareness we have for potential for danger and harmful things, we want to be prepared in a way that's proactive, and we help kids to avoid situations where they might be aggressive, and if they are, find ways to act safely,” Mohn said.
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