BSE Releases Updated 2019-20 Restraint Reporting Info (November 20, 2019)

On November 20, 2019, Carole L. Clancy, Director of PDE’s Bureau of Special Education disseminated a memo via PennLink titled 2019-2020 School Year Restraint Information System Collection Tracking and Training – Second Quarter Reporting Window.The memo states that the 2019-2020 school year Restraint Information System Collection (RISC) is open for data entry. The system has been enhanced and gives local education agencies (LEAs) greater opportunity to provide both more detail about restraints and to analyze trends in reducing the use of physical restraints.

The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) continues to require LEAs to report the restraints that occurred in each quarter. This reporting process permits LEAs to report restraints in a timely manner which, in turn, allows LEAs to monitor patterns of episodic behaviors and address them accordingly. The quarterly windows of reporting for the 2019-2020 school year are as follows:

Qtr 2

Begin Date:10/01/2019

End Date: 12/31/2019

Last Report Day:  01/15/2020

Window Opens: 01/01/2020

Window Closes: 01/15/2020

Qtr 3

Begin Date: 01/01/2020

End Date: 03/31/2020

Last Report Day: 04/15/2020

Window Opens:04/01/2020

Window Closes:04/15/2020

Qtr 4

Begin Date: 04/01/2020

End Date: 06/30/2020

Last Report Day: 07/15/2020

Window Opens:07/01/2020

Window Closes:07/15/2020

The RISC reporting design provides an “End Date” for LEAs to comply with their end of quarterly reporting. In addition, there is a two-week window date labeled “Last Day to Report” to allow LEAs to gather and report on those students that attend an out-of-district facility where they were placed in a restraint during that quarter. This two-week period is also a designated time for LEAs that had no restraints during the quarter to report zero in RISC. BSE will continue to send out reminder PENN*LINKS about this quarterly reporting requirement.

BSE will continue to monitor the restraint information reported by LEAs. RISC continues to require each LEA to report the event prior to the incident, the incident, the unsafe behavior, and the de-escalation techniques utilized. The LEA must notify the parent(s) of the use of a restraint and convene an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting within 10-school days of the use of the restraint in the educational program, unless after written notice, the parent agrees in writing to waive the IEP meeting. Additionally, restraints occurring during Extended School Year sessions should be reported within three weeks of the start of the school year.

In reviewing restraints submitted in RISC, the Special Education Advisers of BSE will continue to focus on LEA monitoring responsibilities as well as:

  • Training of staff in de-escalation techniques;
  • Excessive time of restraint;
  • Excessive use of parent waivers;
  • Mechanical restraints;
  • Injuries;
  • Number of restraints; and
  • 10-day window (school days) to convene an IEP after a restraint occurs.

A RISC reporting webinar is posted on the RISC site at https://apps.leaderservices.com/_risc/index.aspxThe RISC reporting webinar link is located below the login box of the Leader Services RISC sign-in page. This webinar explains the reporting process and how to use the RISC system. The webinar also shares how to update your LEA’s contact information. All parties involved with RISC are highly encouraged to view this webinar to learn how to report restraints, how to use the system, and to understand the regulatory responsibility of LEAs.

Additionally, BSE’s “Guidelines for De-escalation and the Use of/and Reporting of Restraints in Education Entities” is available for review on the RISC site.

Questions regarding RISC should be directed to either of the following Special Education Advisers: Keith Focht at 717.783.6921 or kfocht@pa.gov / Pat Haglund at 814.662.2662 or phaglund@pa.gov.

OJRSD to Hold a Public Session on Later School Start Times for Secondary Students (November 17, 2019)

In October, as a result of SR 417, the PA Joint State Commission on Secondary School Start Times published its report recommending that the best start time for secondary school students (grades seven through 12) is 8:30 AM or later. Reasons for such a recommendation include:

  • The secondary school-age student requires between eight and 10 hours of sleep per night to aid in their continuing development;
  • The circadian rhythms of secondary school-age children are roughly two hours later than adults and their younger peers due to a delay on the release of the melatonin hormone, which induces sleep and occurs at about 11PM;  
  • The above two factors are difficult to reconcile without the adjustment to a later school start time;
  • There are negative effects to a lack of sleep in secondary school-age children, such as mental and behavioral health issues and risky behaviors as well as a higher rate of athletic injuries; and
  • Sleep is associated with one’s memory and ability to learn.

The Owen J. Roberts School District in suburban Philadelphia is a school district looking into whether to go to a later start time and, on November 20th, the school district will host Dr. Wendy Troxel, who served as an advisory member of the Joint Commission. Dr. Troxel will present at a public session at the Owen J. Roberts Middle school starting at 6:30 PM.

Thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Secret Service Releases Long-awaited School Shooting Study (November 10, 2019)

On Thursday, November 7, 2019, The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center released the results of a study on 41 school shootings (grades K-12) from 2008 to 2017 in the US. The study showed that most students who committed deadly school attacks for that 10-year span displayed behavior that concerned others but were unreported, had disciplinary issues, and were victims of bullying. Attackers were also influenced by and/or emulated previous school shootings.

Previously, the Secret Service published a best practices guide based on some of its research. In addition, the center has scheduled almost 40 training sessions for groups of up to 2,000. Another 7,500 people have already been trained. The training is free.

The study was aimed at determining effective means for training school personnel and law enforcement entities in identifying students who may be at risk of planning attacks and how to effectively intervene prior to an opportunity to attack. The study also showed that attacks usually occurred during school hours and happened in one location (e.g., cafeteria, bathroom or classroom). Attackers were mainly male, but seven were female. 63% of the attackers were white, 15% were black, 5% were Hispanic, 2% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 10% were of two or more races, and 5% were undetermined. Guns were the weapon most commonly used, and most weapons came from the home of the attacker.

Most attackers were young adults, but some were middle schoolers. Many attackers were absent from school before the attack, many due to a school suspension. Many felt they were mistreated by others and over 75% attacked after having problems with someone at school. Some attackers were looking to become famous. A significant number of attackers were suicidal. Most attackers were fixated on violence, watched it online, played games featuring violence, and/or read books and publications that depicted violence.

Click here to see the study.

PDE Releases Special Education Plan Information for Phase 2 School Districts (November 10, 2019)

To help ensure that all special education programs in schools are appropriate and effective, school districts must submit a Special Education Plan every three years to PDE as required under 22 PA Code 14.104. The school district’s Special Education Plan focuses on plans generated from compliance monitoring, professional development activities, and training necessary to provide appropriate programs to students with disabilities.  School districts in Phase 2 must submit their full plans by May 1, 2020, via the Comprehensive Planning Web Application. Training regarding the Comprehensive Planning Web Application will be held on December 6, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. via webinar utilizing the following information. To join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device go to https://paiu.zoom.us/j/590763404. To join by phone, dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location) US: +1-646-558-8656 or +1-669-900-6833; Webinar ID: 590 763 404. Register in advance for this webinar by clicking here. Questions should be directed to Amy Deluca in PDE’s Bureau of Special Education at amdeluca@pa.gov or Cortney Verner at cverner@pa.gov.

PDE Announces 2019-2020 Contingency Funds for Extraordinary Expenses (October 27, 2019)

Contingency Funds provide funding for the implementation of the Individualized Education Program for a student with significant disabilities and extraordinary expenses. PDE has announced that it will begin accepting applications for the Special Education Contingency Funds for Extraordinary Expenses on November 18, 2019.  Interested local educational agencies (LEAs) will have until January 3, 2020 to submit applications.

The application and review process for the 2019-2020 school year is specified in the Contingency Funds Guidelines.  Applications for the Special Education Contingency Funds should be submitted electronically through the contingency funds request system website at https://apps.leaderservices.com/cfunds.  LEAs that have not previously used the system may request a password from Leader Services by emailing cfunds@leaderservices.com.  The LEA’s address will be verified, and a password will be issued, along with the information regarding the primary account.

Questions regarding Special Education Contingency Funds for Extraordinary Expenses should be directed to Dr. Del Hart, Chief, Division of Analysis and Financial Reporting, at 717.772.1114 or dehart@pa.gov.