Restraint law needs tweaking by Legislature

There's a reason adults must supervise children.

Because, as all parents know, children are impulsive and sometimes do stupid things — even to each other.

Ideally, when that happens a well-meaning adult can quickly step in and keep a dangerous situation from becoming worse.

Yet a year after the Maine Department of Education adopted new rules to prevent the abusive use of restraints in schools, many teachers seem too paralyzed by uncertainty to act appropriately — or at all — when required.

This is a tale of well-meaning people attempting to solve a problem and, in doing so, creating other problems perhaps more serious than the first.

In July of 2011, the Forecaster, a Sun Media newspaper based in Falmouth, began reporting on the concerns of parents who felt their children were injured while being restrained by school personnel.

In one case, Scarborough parents said their five-year-old had been restrained more than 25 times over an 18-month period, resulting in a sprained wrist, hospitalization and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Fearing for their son's safety, the parents pulled him out of school and the child was ultimately placed in a special school.

The Forecaster found a surprising number of children being restrained in many school districts and, after more parents came forward, the Department of Education issued a warning about the using of dangerous restraints.

Meanwhile, a stakeholder group of parents, special education teachers, administrators and disability rights advocates began meeting and ultimately agreed upon a new set of rules.

At about this time last year, parent advocates voiced concern the new rules were not detailed enough. Teachers and principals, meanwhile, worried they were too restrictive.

The rules were meant to safely control students, but to prohibit the type of abuse which had resulted in a handful of deaths nationwide.

Early this week, the Maine Education Association claimed "dozens" of public school teachers and education technicians had been injured by students because of the new rules.

The teacher union, however, offered no specifics on the circumstances or types of injuries that had resulted.

MEA President Lois Kilby-Chesley said the rules seemed clear when they were adopted, but school administrators and teachers across the state are still confused about when and how to intervene when students become disruptive.

Lewiston School Superintendent Bill Webster told the Sun Journal the new rules were having severe unintended consequences for students.

He described several cases where situations escalated unnecessarily because teachers felt they were forbidden to respond as quickly as required.

Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin echoed Webster's complaints and pointed out that parents could not even authorize school employees to use common-sense restraint.

The new rules resulted from an open, month-long process involving multiple stakeholders.

Still, even people with the best of intentions cannot always foresee the negative consequences that might result.

But the Department of Education is now reluctant to re-open the laborious rule-making process.

That means the Legislature must conduct hearings and either tweak the law to make it clearer or provide better training for school employees.

New laws are rarely perfect right out of the gate, and this one needs attention sooner rather than later.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

And there is a reason adults must supervise adults...

There is a reason adults must supervise teachers, too.....

Jails are now videotaped to prevent abuse of detainees by police ...

Schools are, obviously, next.

Children need to be protected from teachers ...plain and simple.

Video tape ... and give the parent of every school child password protected access to real-time video coverage of the classroom, halls and playgrounds.

Thank you very much...

Viola!

No more issue.

Train the teachers ...don't amend anything

Teachers abused students. The laws were changed to protect students. Students didn't change the law. Adults did.

The abusers don't like it. They liked the old rules.

What's so surprising?

O.K. Let's change back to the old rules, but...

In every classroom, corridor and office were students and teachers will be mingling, let's make sure the rule change include mandatory, online video monitoring by the public and, especially, the parents of the students.

Oh. Access can be password protected, of course, to ensure no freaks will be allowed access.

But, yes. If there is a change, let it include transparency that can provide parents and the public real-time monitoring of teacher / student relations, progress, and situations.

After, it's the abuse, behind closed doors, out of sight of parents and the public, that gave rise to the abuse, in my view, in the the first place.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Get a clue Henry...the only

Get a clue Henry...the only people who need to be involved in the decision to restrain a child or not and how to do it are the parents and the staff that interact with that child. Everyone else needs to stay out of it.....abuse...it's abusive to restrain a teacher and not let them do what needs to be done. It is less abusive to properly restrain a child then it is to let the child hurt others.

I agree that the decision is the parent's to make ...

But, to ensure compliance, then it is very useful to harness the available, cheap technology to provide said parents with real-time video monitoring, at least.

No more "out of sight" ..."let's all trust the teachers and staff" stupidity ... the priests blew it for everyone. Didn't you get the memo?

Agree?

DONALD FERLAND's picture

No I don't agree. Today's

No I don't agree. Today's parents cannot sit there and watch video of their child in school. They have to work and most employers would not be too happy with people watching videos regardless of the reason. The answer is for the parents of children needing to be restrained, staff dealing with that child, and administrators, doctors, and counselors to make the decision on what to do and how to do it and be trained to do it correctly. Everyone else needs to stay out of it as they have no clue what it is like to deal with children who need restraining at times and how gut wrenching that decision is.

So, from your response, I take it that it is possible that..

someday you might be able to understand that it is a realistic suggestion to permit parental monitoring, by way of real-time, online video, of their children in school classrooms in order to ensure teachers do not step over their boundaries and abuse children entrusted to them during the school day.

Parents do not, in this scenario, have to do anything. They don't, as you suggest, "have" to "sit there" and watch a video of their child in school.

In fact, they can do it where-ever they are by way of simple smart phones. Or, weren't you aware of this?

Teachers have no expectation of privacy in public classrooms and neither do children. Parents, therefore, have a legitimate right to insist on real-time video access to any and every class their children may find themselves.

With such monitoring, you can be assured of far less abuse and more participation by both parents and teachers in caring for and training our youth.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Restraint law needs tweaking by Legislature

all 12.11.29 18:22 hst
. .Whelp. .having four kids my self ( that i know of ) it's a struggle at times , especially duirng the co-ed teen sleepovers we host
Teach your children well . School is not a substitute for you or their grandparents
If you were to go over to Bates and ask administrators there how they deal with underage drinking and , hhmm , let's say , stuff like that , they'd probably invoke the legal term ' In loco parentis .'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_loco_parentis
Given that your legislature is simply a unwalled zoo full of lawyers of all stripes and c o l o r s , it's surprising they have not embraced this concept as it applies to your public school system
Bates is a private and very liberal arts and sciences school
/s , Steve , widower , Bates '78
http://wrbcradio.com/home

Steve  Dosh's picture

addendum

 's picture

i think that there is a level

i think that there is a level of behavior that must be attained in a classroom so that learning can take place. there are some children that don't have that ability due to mental health and behavioral issues. those children belong in a special classroom setting with educators specially trained to handle those problems while educating them. the approach of putting all children in a classroom so that everyone can "feel" and "learn about differences" does more harm then good. while the teachers are dealing with disruptive and violent kids, the others in the class are being robbed of an education. while many of these kids can be controlled with drugs and therapy, some can't and shouldn't be left in a classroom with just one or two adults and 20 other kids.

and no i don't know how taxpayers will be able to afford it, how we will get the teachers and training, or how the school systems will be able to accommodate this. i understand that these are a large part of how this issue is currently being dealt with.

Ummmm....wrong.....

Your thinking was exposed long ago when the people decided to pass laws requiring that children and adults with physical and mental disabilities have equal access to public institutions, including schools, etc...

In the past, you're right, we "controlled" people with such physical and mental characteristics and behaviors with the use of "restraints" and "medication". But, that was considered cruel and often led to barbaric consequences, including Hitler's popular eugenics and mass exterminations.

Today, the preferred approach is to integrate people into the mainstream community, schools and society.

Now. for some, especially those who believe this impacts "normal" people / students, this may be uncomfortable or disruptive for "normal" people. But, that is simply too bad.

You may have heard of the idea / term, "No child left behind"?

You may have heard of the Disabilities Act? The Human Rights Act? The Bill of Rights? Things like that?

Take a read...you obviously need one.

Teachers teaching disruptive, physically or mentally disabled or handicapped people does not rob others of an education, Allisa.

That is the education.

Caring for others, especially those who have extreme needs, behaviors, disabilities, mental problems, are freaks, weirdos, emo's, whatever .... and doing it consistently ...with consistent positive regard for these needy individuals ... that is the education your students need most.

It's not about learning how to do something.

It's not about learning how to produce something.

It's not about learning how to be something.

It's about learning how to care from someone ...unconditionally.

It's about helping others.

When students are at school, Allisa.

That is where they are. That is where they live ...for years... and they better learn that everyone .....everyone, even the freaks, those that are "different" ....lives there with them....and your student is not entitled to anything different.

In fact, they have, in the place we all hope to live, a duty to help the so-called teacher, if they can.

They have a duty to BE the teacher, if they can.

And, don't assume that the freak doesn't have something, in some unique way, something to teach you, too.

Students must learn a little .... No. Students must learn a lot of tolerance ... up front. And, teachers are teachers only if that is what they are capable and willing to do.

All we have heard in these articles, including this dribble from the Editorial Board, is a reinforcing of an escape route for these teachers ....of a perpetuation of intolerance and of it's attending violence ...restraint abuse ... stigmatizing of certain children, etc....

What a bunch of "entitled" intolerants!

 's picture

believe it or not, i probably

believe it or not, i probably know more then you think since my daughter has an iep (integrated education plan) due to learning problems associated with her turner's syndrome. however, she does not hit, punch, kick, throw books or desks, or bite other students. those are the ones i'm talking about. the ones who can get out of control and violent and dangerous to other students. when those kids lose control of themselves, they not only disrupt the classroom but create a dangerous and inconsistent learning environment for the other students, some of whom are struggling with their own problems. those are the kids who should be separated and with specially trained teachers who can still meet the "no child left behind" standards while not allowing them to hurt themselves or others.

I agree with you when you put it into that context...

First of all, I want to say that I certainly respect you for what you have and are doing on behalf of your daughter. To be sure, you are providing the kind of natural supports that are needed, including being her advocate for a safe classroom.

Secondly, I believe there is a difference between children who are incapable of controlling, without treatment, their behaviors and other students who are capable of doing so.

In the case of the latter, especially where the problem is caused by wilfull, bad attitudes, and result in violence or danger to other students, including your daughter, then, yes, those children / young people may need to be separated or removed from the class to ensure their own or other student's safety when those situations occur.

But, only when those situations occur, which, we know, rarely happens. But, when they do, repeat offenders are forcefully, under police escort, even, expelled ...and for good reason ...until their attitudes improve ...substantially ...before they are allowed to return to the public class room.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Liberalism is a mental

Liberalism is a mental disorder - Q.E.D.

People with mental disorders have rights ...and

Like the children, weak and elderly we advocate for, we people with so-called mental disorders have rights ...and will remind you of them.

This may make you and others dog paddling around in the "status quo" uncomfortable, but, remember, there are more of us than there are of you; ... the deluded who are in chronic denial.

Just pay your child support and we, the abused and neglected, will do just fine without you.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ostensibly, everyone has

Ostensibly, everyone has rights. Changing the topic slightly, granting a right to one individual does not mean you have to violate the rights of others, such as what we see contemporarily with liberals and the big push for income redistribution.

Income redistribution is exactly what we need to balance...

The past 25 years or so, since the Reagan and Bush giveaways to their military industrial complex, big oil, Wall Street welfare clients, the redistribution of income from the poor to the rich has gotten way out of balance and needs to be made right again.

The biggest welfare recipients of income distribution has been the plane, tank and bomb makers at Boeing, Chrysler and General Electric, respectively.

But, almost as egregious and forocious an appetite, came by way of Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton, with their $60 dollar hammers and $200 toilet seats, and multi-billion dollar meals-ready-to-eat contract during the unlawful Iraq attack.

That Halliburton continues to walk free of American Justice even after their complicity in the Gulf Oil spill with their partners, British Petroleum, is another huge tax break being borne by the people of the world and, especially, the people of the United States.

Wall Streeters like Madoff, Bush's Abramoff, Bernachi, Greenspan stole and scammed trillions, and still are, from the poor taxpayer.

All of this ...however ...can and will be clawed back.... and with a vengence, you can be sure.

Four years of investigations and prosecutions are in the works...the likes of which will make the Salem witch trials look like a morning church picnic.

Hundreds of millions of American democrats and republicans will be standing by this administration and cheering them on ...too.

And, the ill-gotten booty mentioned above will form a large part of what will be redistributed "back" to the people.

You can call it a "big push" for income redistribution, Mark.

I calls it justice ...long overdue.

And, I think you know it...too.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Assume Obama gets all the

Assume Obama gets all the revenue he wants plus a blank check to raise the debt ceiling.

Fast forward to the next election or the one after that. After all, the republicans will get elected again someday. If you think the republicans are giving favors now, just think what the will do will all the new revenue.

That said, why in the hell do you and more money flowing through Washington - you're not going to get any of it.

Before we talk about raising the debt ceiling ...

The fact is, there exists more than enough hidden revenue in the form of off-shore tax "shelters", estate and corporate welfare to pay down and eliminate the debt, or simply write it off. Then, contrary to the hopes of the private bankers cartel ....the so-called "Federal Reserve", we "nationalize" and make our own money at cost, and without baseless "interest", to permanently eliminate the existing and future debt.

Fast forward to future elections and there just ain't a republican party due to natural attrition. It will, at best, be a rural, regional party, which it is now rapidly becoming, of old, confederate, KKK holdouts.

It is already over. Welcome to the new Jerusalem, but without the Chase, Lehman's, Koch's, Rothchilds, Bernache's, Bloombergs.

There's an independant at the button and he can and will take out America's foreign or domestic enemines as he, with his huge mandate, sees fit...metaphorically speaking.

If there are any republicans left who think they are going to have a shot, given this election and the political and demographic trend in this country now, that is wishful thinking, at best, and pure delusion, because there just aint no, "the republicans will get elected again someday".

Their days of "giving favors", as the news is playing out right now with the make believe, "fiscal cliff" rhetoric, is over once Harry finishes their fillibuster shennanigans and legislation, including much needed infrastructure spending and judicial appointments, can be passed and filled.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Not like I haven't heard this

Not like I haven't heard this crap before. It was said during the Clinton administration. Moreover, you are in denial to think Obama is not paying favors - GE, Solyndra, etc... Funny how history repeats itself.

But, I do believe in a two political party system, at least...

However, the two parties will likely now be a dominant Democratic party along side a growing Green and Independant party system, which is going to be wonderful to see evolve and mature over these next election periods.

Yee Hah.....

I love this country ...yipper.

No more confederacy, no more KKK and, finally, no more republicans in the very near future.

Signed:

Republican for Obama
(Soon to be anything but republican party member)

When we voted ...

Personally, I have no specific problem with trusting the President's decisions on who to "pay favors" to ...That is exactly why I voted for him.

Now, I would be surprised to learn that he is paying any favors to GE, specifically. If he is, there is, I am sure, a good, national security purpose for it.

Solyndra and the promotion of alternative energy will always have my vote ...especially since we are at absolutely NO risk of running out of gas anytime in the near future thanks to INCEASED production during the past four Obama years.

Imagine that..... Obama has been the catalyst for more energy production ....not Bush, Cheney or Halliburton ...

No. It is definately over for the republican party, generally, and the confederacy, specifically. ...finally.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

That is something that will

That is something that will never happen as long as states have to follow the No Child Left Behind Act because it says that ALL children will be taught in the least restrictive environment. The funding levels allow for special classrooms for Special Education but if a child is academically on level they do not qualify for the special ed classrooms. It is time for the government to get out of our schools and allow teachers to do what they need to do in order to educate our children. It is also time for parents to step up and be parents and for the medical professionals to give referrals for help instead of saying the child will out grow it. It is a battle every day and a battle that needs to be fought over and over with our school systems. For the parents who do pay attention and try to get things in place to keep the class day as calm as possible it is like running into a brick wall because teachers are not allowed to do what really needs to be done.

Steve  Dosh's picture

all, 18:40 hst ? " It is

all, 18:40 hst ?
" It is time for the government to get out of our schools ". .Hmm. .you seem to forget about charter , private , and parochial schools , NGO - PVO's [ non-governmental , private volutary organizations ] and home schooling as options
We home schooled our kids in Africa . There were no schools . We also hired a tutor
Volunteering is a solution . In fact , that's the ticket ? . Go volunteer. i did it for > 7 years ( K - 6 ) at my son's schools . The teachers can certainly use the help http://www.americorps.gov/about/programs/vista.asp
i saw mainstraming in practce and , to tell you the truth , liked what i saw
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainstreaming_%28education%29
At the very least , the slower kids get invited to all the birthday parties here
In any given classroom you will have kids who are smarter and kids who are less intelligent that their teachers
The average I Q is 1 0 0 , by definition . Even the slower learners get as frustrated as the geniuses . Catching up to the learning horizon is fairly easy . Pushing that horizon further forward is more difficult . i am not confusing wisdom and experience with smarts here . i am not a teacher , though i taught statististics at Bates for a while and E S L in Loystone while a student there . E S L in L/A
There are educators . Maybe you are one , too • You'll get more out of it than they do , especially during these EID , Hannuka , Kwanzaa holiday seasons
/s , Steve , former peace corps volunteer , Micronesia '78 - '85

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Not everyone has the money to

Not everyone has the money to send children to private, charter, or parochial schools. Not everyone has the ability to stay home and home school their children. Not everyone has the time to volunteer in the schools due to work schedules. Not everyone can afford a tutor. Congrats that you had all the time and ability to volunteer so much of your times but in this day people cannot always afford the options. Government is known for creating mandates that they cannot afford...hence No Child Left Behind which DOES NOT WORK. They make rules without ever being in the classrooms on a daily basis. The rules do not change because of a child's needs. Hell YES government needs to stay out of our schools. Let educators do what they are trained to do, let students learn in the different ways students learn, and let parents do what they can to assist in the schools and then be parents while at home. The options to public schools really are not open to all as not all are rich and can afford to not work.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Dealing with kids can be tricky......

Everything I've read the past couple of days regarding the "Restraint law" has expressed concern for children in school environments. When reading about children in school, you tend to think of young children. I have a slightly different slant on this.
For many years, I worked at an "After Hours" club which offered "Chem Free" entertainment for younger teens during the early evening hours. Being outside the structured school setting and away from parental supervision, gave us a unique experience in dealing with kids, aged 13 to 18. These are the same kids that Middle and High school teachers deal with, but we see them in a totally different environment. We had to deal with many different situations, many of which would never happen in a school setting. Yet we had to deal with them in the same manner. You can't take a fifteen year old, who's 6'1",and weighs 220 pounds, and put him in time out if he misbehaves. I'm not sure how the Restraint law would affect us today in that situation, but with or without the law, we still had to treat him as a child.
I was always proud of the way my colleagues and I dealt with disruptive kids, to my knowledge no one has ever been injured on our watch. Unfortunately, left to themselves, they kept us busy. I can relate to the plight of Middle and High school teachers. As a former bouncer, I can tell you, this age group can be a handful, but a little common seance goes a long way........

Steve  Dosh's picture

Frank . .. . t y v m , and

Frank . .. . t y v m , and we all know that common sense is in short supply these days . Enjoy the holy days , /s Santa Stave HO , ho , HoO0øø º• *<;-Q~

DONALD FERLAND's picture

I think those that do not

I think those that do not have children that have behavior issues are basically clueless as to what is best for all involved. There was a time when my child was out of control due to various medical conditions and he would go around biting, hitting, kicking, and punching others. Restraining him was the only way to keep everyone safe. We addressed his needs and the safety of others in a plan with the school. Other parents have the same option, if the child is not a special ed student they can request a 504 meeting which makes accommodations based on the child's needs. If the child is a special ed student the parent can request and IEP meeting. The choice to restrain a child is a difficult one and should only be made when absolutely necessary, however, this is not a decision that should be made by people other than those that deal with the child because if you are not dealing with an out of control child you have no idea of the danger you are putting the child or others in. People who restrain the child can be trained to do it properly. So unless a person has been in the position of having to restrain a child then they should not be in a position of telling others what they can or cannot do. Now, years later, my son no longer needs to be restrained and is able to interact in an appropriate manner and other children are not afraid of him and are willing to interact with him. Let the teachers do what they need to do and stop tying their hands because all that is being accomplished is the teachers are now being restrained instead of being allowed to do their jobs.

Robert McQueeney's picture

"Meanwhile, a stakeholder

"Meanwhile, a stakeholder group of parents, special education teachers, administrators and disability rights advocates began meeting and ultimately agreed upon a new set of rules."

I find it interesting that in this group who made up the new rules, no input was given by regular teachers or education technicians. Just seems to me that when you have people who are not "in the trenches" telling people who are "in the trenches" what to do without their input, you miss out on valuable input in drafting any set of rules.

I agree this rule needs a good looking at and some tweaking, but the folks who make the final decisions should take to heart the input of the teachers who are actually tasked with following these rules. At the very least give some consideration to their voice.

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