Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Colonial Intermediate Unit Staff Hand Book 2007-2008

We found a copy of the 2007-2008 Staff handbook online at

Would you mind giving us your thoughts on their "policies" on Corporal Punishment? It starts on page 100, but we've copied and pasted some parts that have us more than a little concerned; namely, that staff are permitted to use ANY means necessary to stop self-injurious behaviors.

This policy also permits restraints, but does not instruct staff on how to properly restrain a child, and does not mention seclusion at all. We have bolded the parts we're particularly concerned with and placed comments in ( ).

We'd love to hear from you! Thanks!


Corporal punishment, the practice of physically punishing a student as a disciplinary measure or in retaliation for an offense, is strictly prohibited in accordance with the established policy of the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 Board of School Directors.

*Only reasonable force may be used in the form of physical restraint by an Intermediate Unit 20 teacher, administrator or staff member in the following circumstances:
1. To protect the lives and property of students and school personnel.
2. To protect themselves in matters of self-defense.
3. To remove from a student’s possession weapons or other dangerous objects.
4. To quell disturbances which infringe upon the educational rights of other students (What does this mean? Does this mean if a child starts screaming that he/she can be restrained?)

Students with disabilities who engage in inappropriate behavior, disruptive or prohibited activities and/or actions injurious to themselves or others shall be disciplined in accordance with their individualized education programs (IEP), behavior support plan and IU20 policy. (This language bothers me for some reason. It's so vague. If a child doesn't have "punishment" spelled out in his IEP, does this mean that he is subject only to IU20 policy?)

The Board directs that IU20 shall comply with the provisions of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and federal and state regulations when disciplining students with disabilities for violations of IU20 policy or school rules and regulations. (IDEA is a federal statute. How can a board "direct" otherwise?)

All disciplinary action will be reviewed by the Multi Disciplinary Team in order to ensure that all laws and regulations regarding special education are complied with and to ensure that each student is considered individually with respect to his/her handicapped condition.

During any period of disciplinary action, the student shall continue to receive free and appropriate education in accordance with federal law. (How can the student do so if they are permitted to be removed from school DUE TO A MANIFESTATION OF THEIR DISABILITY for 10 consecutive days and 15 cumulative days? See below).

A student with a disability may be suspended for ten (10) consecutive and fifteen (15) cumulative days of school per year regardless of whether the student’s behavior is a manifestation of his/her disability. (So they're saying they CAN punish children for behaviors DIRECTLY RELATED to their disability?)*

Any removal from school is a change of placement for student identified with mental retardation.

A student with a disability whose behavior is not a manifestation of his or her disability may be expelled pursuant to IU20 policies and procedures.

Students who have not been identified as disabled may be subject to the same disciplinary measures applied to students without disabilities if IU20 did not have knowledge of the disability. A request for evaluation is made during the period the student is subject to disciplinary measures, the evaluation shall be expedited.

B. Defacing, Injuring or Destroying Intermediate Unit Property

Breaking into, entering, defacing, writing upon, marking or placing any obscene or improper matter upon any IU20 building or defacing, injuring, damaging or destroying any IU20 property shall not be tolerated.

C. Electronic Devices, Beepers and Pagers

The possession by students of beepers, telephones, pagers, cellular phones, and all other electronic communication devices is prohibited on IU20 grounds, at IU20 sponsored activities and on school buses and other vehicles provided by the IU20 policy. Students violating this policy may be suspended up to ten (10) days and referred to proper authorities. Individual exceptions, with an Administrators permission, might be allowed for a student who is a member of volunteer fire company, ambulance, or rescue squad or for a student who has a need for a beeper due to the medical condition of an immediate family member. (All OTHER communication devices? Does this mean a child who uses a Dynavox communication system is prohibited from using it?)

D. False Fire Alarms

Students who turn in false fire alarms any time that school is in session, or when IU20 is open for a school activity, may be suspended for period of up to ten (10) days and referred to proper authorities. The second offense will mean automatic suspension up to ten (10) days and possible referral to Director for expulsion proceedings.

E. Loud, Abrasive and/or Profane Language or Behavior

It is the policy of IU20 to prevent disruptions to its operations and the educational process. All persons, including but not limited to, students, parents, employees, visitors and members of the general public are prohibited from the use of foul, profane and abusive language, whether spoken or written, or a tirade in any manner in IU20 buildings or upon IU20 grounds. This policy will be particularly enforced if language or actions are profoundly loud and/or offensive manner or in a manner observable by other persons. (Again, so they are saying that they WILL discriminate against a child with a disability, should that child yell something loudly? Even if it could be BECAUSE of their disability?)

All persons are therefore warned that violation of this policy may result in removal from IU20 property by appropriate IU20 authorities or other authorities. Students and employees may be subject to disciplinary procedures in accordance with IU20 policies and the laws of Pennsylvania . Members of the public may be subject to removal from IU20 property and may be charged with trespassing for failure to promptly vacate the property.

In all cases, violators may be subject to appropriate laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania .

F. Terroristic Threats/Acts

IU20 recognizes the danger that terroristic threats and acts by students presents the safety and welfare of students, staff and community. IU20 acknowledges the needs for an immediate and effective response to a situation involving such a threat or act.

A terroristic threat shall mean a threat to commit violence communicated with the intent to terrorize another; to cause evacuation of the building; or to cause serious public inconvenience in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.

Terroristic act shall mean an offense against property or involving danger to another person. (Does this same hold true for the student when being physically restrained?)

IU20 prohibits any student from communicating terroristic threats or committing terroristic acts directed at any other student, IU20 employee, Board Member, community member or IU20 property.

The Board directs the Executive Director to react promptly and appropriately to information and knowledge concerning a possible or actual terroristic threat or act.

The Executive Director or Designee shall be responsible for developing administrative procedures to implement this policy.

Where School Districts have their own terroristic threats/acts policy, IU20 staff shall follow the guidelines of the District/building where the class is located. IU20 personnel in other locations will be expected to follow the guidelines listed below.

Staff members and student shall be responsible for informing the building administrator/program supervisor regarding any information or knowledge relevant to a possible or actual terroristic threat or act.

The building administrator/program supervisor shall immediately inform the Executive Director
after receiving a report of such a threat or act.

When an administrator has evidence that a student has made a terroristic threat or committed a terroristic act, the following guidelines shall be applied:

1. The building administrator/program supervisor may recommend suspension of the student, according to state and federal regulations and/or IU20 program guidelines.
2. The building administrator/program supervisor shall promptly report the incident to the Executive Director or Designee.
3. Based on further investigation, the Executive Director or Designee may report the student to law enforcement officials.
4. The Executive Director or Designee may recommend expulsion of the student or placement in an alternative educational program to the IU Board or the student’s district of residence.

If a student is expelled for making terroristic threats or committing terroristic acts, the Board may require, prior to readmission, that the student provide competent and credible evidence that the student does not pose a risk of harm to others.

*In the case of students with disabilities, IU20 will take all steps necessary to comply with the IDEA and follow Board policy. (*Notice this is the ONLY place where this exception is noted under these infractions).*

G. Smoking, Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The use of tobacco and controlled substances is governed by IU20 policy.

A student with a disability who knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs or solicits the sale of a controlled substance while at school or IU20 function or program may be removed from his or her current placement. This student shall be place in an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for no more than forty-five (45) days.

H. Weapons

A student with a disability who carries a weapon to school or IU20 function or program may be removed from his or her current placement. This student shall be [place in an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for no more than forty-five (45) days.

According to the IDEA, weapons shall be defined as a device, instrument, material or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2 ½ inches in length.

I. Miscellaneous

The following items are of no less importance to the educational and individual development of the exceptional child:

***1. The staff shall take all steps necessary to guard against student self-inflicted injuries. *** (ALL STEPS NECESSARY? What SPECIFICALLY does this permit them to do?)
2. Students leaving the school without proper written permission from the head/contact teacher is prohibited.
3. Illegal absences are prohibited.

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