Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Important Special Education Stories

The first story is from OSPI who released data on restraint and isolation for Special Education students in Washington State.  The story from KUOW:
The data follow a new state law that bars public schools from restraining or isolating students unless the student poses an imminent threat to themself or others.

The law also requires public schools to report all cases where a student was restrained or isolated.

According to the report, students were injured 333 times in the isolation or restraint process. There were nearly a thousand staff injuries.
 Data was missing for many schools.
There was one high school student in Bellingham who was isolated 617 times in just six months.

The SPS schools with highest numbers are Laurelhurst, Arbor Heights, B.F. Day, and John Rogers. Northgate had the high with 49 incidents involving seven students.

This data was from January 2016-June 2016.
Districts were not required to report the type of injuries sustained, nor were they required to report information about students, such as their race, ethnicity or gender.

Districts also reported on the types of restraint and isolation used. Due to time and technical issues, though, the data were only available at the district level this year. In future years, data will be available by school. Also, future data will include an entire school year.
From OPSI:
The federal government has required us to collect this data for special education for a number of years now,” Dorn said. “A few of those incidents have received public attention, so the Legislature asked us to expand what we collect so we can find out how often restraints and isolations are being done to all students. This was the first year that districts have had to collect that data.”

Dorn added that the data collected are related to safety and security but do not include discipline-related incidents.

Of the state’s 295 school districts, 217 sent data. “We’re pleased that we now have baseline data,” Dorn said, “although in the future, we hope to receive better participation from districts.”

The data show that:

  • 2,384 students were involved in 11,409 incidents requiring restraint, resulting in 227 injuries to students;
  • 1,441 students were involved in 8,706 incidents requiring isolation, resulting in 106 injuries to students; 
  • 770 teacher were injured in incidents requiring restraint and 219 teachers were injured in incidents requiring isolation.
The other important Special Education story is out of Texas and covered by former Seattle Times education reporter, Brian Rosenthal, who moved on to work at the Houston Chronicle.  (It's an interesting thing how many Seattle Times public education reporters there have been and some I even keep in contact with.

The name of this investigative report is "Denied: Schools push students out of special education to meet state limit.

One key thing to know is that in Washington State there is no limit to the number of Special Education students who can be served but there is a limit to the amount of money that the State will reimburse districts for to serve these students.

Texas, on the other hand, has a cap on the NUMBER of students they will serve which kind of takes your breath away.
A few days before school began here in 2007, district administrators called an emergency staff meeting.

The Texas Education Agency had determined that they had too many students in special education, the administrators announced, and they had come up with a plan: Remove as many kids as possible.
The staffers did as they were told, and during that school year, the Laredo Independent School District purged its rolls, discharging nearly a third of its special education students, according to district data. More than 700 children were forced out of special education and moved back into regular education.

Overall, Texas special education students are now 55 percent more likely to be returned to general education than the national average, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education.
They are five times more likely to be expelled to a disciplinary school, the statistics show.
Rosenthal's story is multi-part and has a great FAQ which they call,  Explainer: How we know the reason for the drop in Texas special education students

Many of these questions and answers could easily apply to nearly any other state.


Anonymous said...

This is peanuts...7 students out 53,000 come on Westbrook stop the pandering!

Look let's be real, these kids are violent period and SPS should send all EBD students to NW SOIL, because it isn't going to get better no matter how many reports come out. In fact now that the data has been released to the public, if one of identified habitually violent students injures another student the district will have to make a 6 figure payout. It's just a matter of time.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not pandering; I'm reporting news. I made no judgment on the numbers but I thought it important for people to know that districts are required to report this to OSPI. That's not pandering.

Anonymous said...

@ TC, where did you get "7 students out of 53,000"? From the 7 Melissa reported for Northgate? That's just one school.


Anonymous said...

Full data here - excel spreadsheet



Just sayin said...

Is this for real or are you being sarcastic? I can't find any starting point where I don't disagree with every part of your response to Melissa's post, to your interpretation of the data, and to your proposed solution. Yikes

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