Public School Works
May/June Newsletter | 2015
Safety News

In This Issue

Problematic Lack of Uniformity Among State Restraint & Seclusion Policies

Creating a Culture of Safety

Keep an Eye Out for PSW Schools Showcased in the Media

Summer Playground Safety Tips

Summer Kickoff


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Problematic Lack of Uniformity Among State Restraint & Seclusion Policies

This is not a new issue, but districts around the country repeatedly have faced litigation over the use of unnecessary or improper restraint and seclusion techniques, particularly with special education populations. In its On Special Education blog, Education Week discussed a recent report by Jessica Butler, the congressional affairs coordinator for the Autism National Committee.

In "How Safe is the Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies," Butler established that 22 states have "meaningful" restraint and seclusion laws that apply to all students, and 34 states have such laws that apply specifically to students with disabilities. To Butler, a state has "meaningful" laws if they "prohibit the use of restraint and seclusion except to prevent injury to the student or others," or "offer multiple protections against restraint and seclusion." (Report: More States Adopting Restrictions on Restraint and Seclusion, March 27, 2015)

The report goes on to say that although the increasing number of states passing laws around restraint and seclusion for both general and special education populations is worth recognizing, the lack of consistency among the laws passed is still problematic. If a student were to move from one state to another, his or her protection against inappropriate or improper restraint and seclusion is not uniform.

As state governments and the U.S. federal government work to make restraint and seclusion laws more uniform across state lines, the deployment of the PublicSchoolWORKS "Restraint & Seclusion training" course as part of your staff training requirements can help meet mandates. As part of the Student Safety, Wellness and Social Responsibility catalog, the 20-minute course addresses:

  • The definitions, purpose and techniques for restraint, seclusion and time-outs.
  • The seven-phase acting out cycle, including phase-specific tips for intervention to decrease the likelihood that the conflict will escalate to the peak stage.
  • The use of preventative tactics such as functional behavioral assessments (FBAs), behavioral intervention plans (BIPs), and positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) strategies to proactively address behavior issues before they become problematic.
  • How improper use of restraint and seclusion has endangered students and led to legal issues for the educator and the district.

Contact today to learn more about how your district can become trained on the correct uses of restraint and seclusion, as well as alternate de-escalation techniques.

Creating a Culture of Safety

Summer break is the perfect time for year-round staff to reiterate safety precautions in schools . The National Safety Council (NSC) sponsors National Safety Month in June to bring focus to reducing leading causes of injury in all aspects of life, including schools. NSC provides free posters, fact sheets and more that you may download here.

One way school districts can create a culture of safety for all staff and students is to implement the following:

  • Extensive safety training for staff
  • Effective incident/accident reporting tools and prevention tactics
  • A comprehensive calendar and completion plan for all district, state and federal compliance tasks.

This not only creates a heightened awareness and culture of safety, it helps lower the likelihood of staff and student injuries, district property damage and other associated issues.

Keep an Eye Out for PSW Schools Showcased in the Media

Have a subscription to ASBO International’s School Business Affairs magazine? Flip to page 33 in the May issue to read an article about how districts in California are purchasing EmployeeSafe Suite through their joint powers association, Schools Insurance Group (SIG), to make their districts safer and save money – all while creating a more meaningful relationship with SIG. Read the free online version of the article here.

The May issue of School Planning & Management magazine features an article by Joshua Reiss, Safety Risk Officer/Program Coordinator at Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES and Steve Waldmann, Manager of School Business Affairs at Kings Local School District. This article focuses on how both were able to use the EmployeeSafe Suite to create and sustain compliance and safer schools.

Also, District Administration magazine features a story using two PSW schools as part of their feature on The Business of Workers’ Comp in Education. The article shares firsthand experience with incident/accident prevention from both Tom Wohlleber, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services at Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District and Director of ASBO International, and Rick Toepfer, Treasurer at Forest Hills Local School District. Both districts are using EmployeeSafe as the foundation for their preventative safety program.

And lastly, Tom Wohlleber authored an article for the July/August issue of School Business Affairs. His expert experience will teach readers how to properly prevent incidents and accidents, and how this ultimately saves district funds. Like our Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep an eye out for a link to the digital issue!

Summer Playground Safety Tips

With summer, comes great weather and more outdoor play, especially on playgrounds. However older playgrounds are not always safe. Between 2001 and 2008, approximately 15 percent of playground injuries were labeled severe and 3 percent required hospitalization (Consumer Product Safety Commission, October 2009). According to 2009 data from the National Electronic Surveillance System (NEISS), the most common injuries are as follows:

Playground Safety

The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) created this 10-point Summer Safety Checklist for playgrounds. NPPS also created a four-part safety checklist called the “Kid Checker” to help evaluate a playground’s supervision, age-appropriateness, fall surfacing and necessary equipment maintenance and then how to address any issues. You can download Kid Checker here.

The NPPS also has addressed additional safety recommendations such as bicycle helmets, preventing burns on hot surfaces and temperature considerations in their Head to Toe Safety checklist. Lastly, this video details the appropriate attire for children playing on playgrounds which you can share with parents.

Many of these tips can be applied year-round. So whether your schools are in session or your playgrounds are being used while students are out for the summer, make sure you playgrounds are safe!