SECEP’s Core Foundations of Behavior: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs (SECEP) provides comprehensive programming to a diverse population of students with challenging needs. The SECEP programs are based on the premise that the education of children must include dignity and respect for the individual child. It is our belief that all children have rights and choices that must be recognized and honored in the educational setting.
A fundamental part of SECEP’s behavioral philosophy is built on positive-based, proactive interventions and supports that contribute to a climate of safety. SECEP, as an educational agency, utilizes the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to inform the development of positive behavioral supports and interventions for the students served in SECEP centers and classrooms. SECEP has organized its Core Foundations of Behavior procedures and staff training around three overarching behavioral categories of Antecedent/ Behavior/ Consequence (ABC). By considering the unique needs of the individual student when developing positive interventions and supports, SECEP can provide a behavioral program designed to provide efficient and substantive positive behavioral change with the student.
The ABC framework allows SECEP to train staff to have functional understanding of the following:
- Program and Classroom Structure
- Routines and Rituals
- Room Arrangement and Organization
- Daily Transitions
- Engagement and Enriching the Environment
- Antecedent-Based Strategies
- Clear classroom rules and expectations
- Predictability in the environment
- Classroom arrangement
- Instructional strategies
- Opportunities for choice
- Incorporate student interest and preferred activities
- Provide and enriched environment
- Prompting Hierarchy
- Full Physical
- Partial Physical
- Functions of Behavior
- Sensory Stimulation
- Defining Behavior in Objective and Measurable Terms
- Understanding/Analyzing Data
- Date and Staff
- Measurement Procedures (appropriate Data Collection)
- Permanent Product
- ABC Data Collection
- occurs when a consequence follows a behavior that maintains or increases the behavior in the future
- Differential Reinforcement
- the process of delivering reinforcers for desired behaviors and withholding reinforcers for problematic behaviors
The utilization of positive behavioral interventions and supports is primary in reducing and de-escalating challenging behaviors. SECEP staff are trained to utilize a range of positive behavioral interventions and supports to maintain positive student engagement or to deescalate a student’s challenging behavior.
A common element found in all SECEP programs is the occurrence of challenging student behaviors. Some of these challenging behaviors include, but are not limited to, hitting, kicking, biting, and/or scratching self or others. All staff who work for SECEP understand that the potential for these kinds of challenging behaviors is an ever-present risk and staff must be physically capable of responding to these situations to ensure the safety of students as well as their own safety. In most instances, more than one staff will be present to assist in helping de-escalate a student’s challenging behavior by providing additional positive behavioral interventions and supports and if necessary, to physically manage the challenging behavior. However, situations can arise where a staff member is alone with students and must respond immediately to the challenging behavior of a student to ensure the safety of all students. This can be accomplished, for example, by segregating the other students and calling for assistance.
When a student presents a challenging behavior, it is important that the staff begin assessing the underlying “function” of that behavior. Understanding the function of a student’s behavior allows the staff to respond utilizing positive behavioral interventions and supports developed for the student and geared toward maintaining the student’s positive engagement and their safety. To fully analyze the function of a challenging behavior that a student repeatedly uses, staff can initiate a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) process. The results of the FBA can then be used to develop an individual behavioral intervention plan (BIP) for the student to assist the student in modifying their behavior.
Among the positive behavioral interventions and supports that staff utilize is providing a student wait time or time to request help. Another positive behavioral intervention and support is the prompting of the student to use an incompatible or high-probability behavior. There are times that staff may use a physical prompt to assist the student to walk to a designated area inside or outside of the classroom for a “break” until the student is ready to return to his designated schedule/typical routine. These are more fully defined below:
Physical Prompting: Occasionally a student may need to be directed from one location to another for programming and/or safety reasons. In these situations, there is a continuum of approaches used by staff. Attempts to intervene in a non-physical manner are the first priority and can be accomplished through body positioning and verbal/non-verbal prompting or through the use of a light touch to redirect the student.
Walking with a reluctant person
In many cases, efforts to redirect a student to a different area can be accomplished without the use of physical intervention. This is the least restrictive method of prompting and simply requires that the staff walk alongside the student and verbally or non-verbally redirect as needed.
Using a light and occasional touch
Sometimes verbal/non-verbal efforts will not achieve the desired or necessary results and it will be necessary to use a light touch to physically direct a student. In so doing, a staff lightly or occasionally touches the student’s upper arm or shoulder prompt or guide the student to restart or redirect the student.
However, there may be instances where a student is unable or unwilling to respond to verbal/non-verbal prompts when in an unsafe situation. Under such circumstances, the student may be physically escorted to a safer location. In such instances, one of the SECEP approved escort techniques will be used to move the student to a safer location and then discontinued as soon as possible.
It is SECEP’s position, that if a student is at imminent risk of injury to self and/or others and staff have attempted to use all positive behavioral interventions and supports available, if feasible, the student may be restrained or secluded until they no longer pose an imminent risk of harming self or others. The utilization of restraint or seclusion is solely to maintain safety and not used as a behavioral intervention or support.
In acknowledging the use of restraint and seclusion, SECEP will comply with 8VAC20-750, the Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia (Regulations). These Regulations are effective as of January 1, 2021. As stipulated in the Regulations, SECEP does not train or utilize a “prone” restraint or other restraint or seclusion technique that restricts a student’s breathing or harms the student. Physical restraint or seclusion is not used to punish or discipline; a means of coercion or retaliation; a convenience; nor to prevent property damage.
Annually, SECEP staff are required to complete the ODU/VDOE training modules to inform Virginia school personnel on the Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia. (https://www.odu.edu/eps/programs/ciees/initiatives/restraint-and-seclusion.html)
Additionally, SECEP trains staff annually on the development and use of positive behavioral interventions and supports. A second tier of staff training is the annual training on the correct implementation of a physical restraint through Handle with Care™. SECEP trains staff in SECEP Centers on the appropriate procedures and utilization of seclusion. When a student is at imminent risk, staff are trained to continue the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports to de-escalate the student’s behavior, if feasible, prior to initiating a restraint or secluding a student.
A more detailed description of restraint and seclusion is provided below:
Restraint and Seclusion:
When a student is at imminent risk of harming self, other students, and/or staff and staff have utilized less restrictive positive supports, interventions, and de-escalation techniques, a physical restraint or seclusion may be initiated to maintain the safety of the student and/or others. Seclusion or physical restraint is never used as a consequence or punishment for inappropriate behavior. The restraint or seclusion of a student is to be discontinued once the imminent risk of harm to self or others no longer exists.
Physical restraint means a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move freely. SECEP trains staff in the use of the Handle with Care™ primary restraint technique (PRT) to immobilize or reduce the ability of the student to move freely and is only used when there is an imminent risk of harm to self or others. Once the student is no longer in imminent risk of harming self or others, the restraint is discontinued.
When a student is restrained, staff monitor the student for signs of physical distress or trauma and adjust the restraint as needed to maintain the safety of the student. Upon ending the restraint, the student must be seen by the nurse who will document if any injury to the student is evident and the contact with the nurse logged in the student information system (Synergy). If the school nurse is not available, a SECEP administrator must examine the student and document if any injury to the student is evident. The incident must be reported to the Principal no later than the end of the school day on which the restraint occurred. The parent/guardian is contacted by phone by the end of the same school day on which the restraint occurred.
Seclusion means the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving [i.e., a designated seclusion room with the door closed, preventing the student from leaving]. Once the student is no longer in imminent risk of harming self or others, seclusion is discontinued.
During the seclusion, staff document behaviors the student engages in while secluded and the length of time seclusion was used. Staff are always required to maintain visual contact of the student while the student is secluded. Staff will use the door window to view the student directly or view the student through the door window utilizing a mirror installed in the seclusion room that provides a view of the entire seclusion room. Prior to returning the student to their typical routine after an instance of seclusion, the student must be examined by the school nurse who will document if any injury to the student is evident. If the school nurse is not available, a SECEP administrator must examine the student and document if any injury to the student is evident. The incident must be reported to the Principal no later than the end of the school day on which the seclusion occurred. The parent/guardian is contacted by phone by the end of the same school day on which the seclusion occurred.
Notification and Reporting the Use of Restraint or Seclusion:
As noted above, SECEP staff involved in initiating a restraint or seclusion with a student are to report the use to the SECEP principal or designee and to the student’s parent/guardian the same day the use of restraint or seclusion occurred.
Within two (2) school days from when a restraint or seclusion has occurred, SECEP staff who initiated the restraint or seclusion, or SECEP staff designated by the SECEP principal, are to complete a written incident report in Synergy and notify the principal, or their designee, of its completion. The principal, or their designee, will review the incident report. The principal, or their designee, will provide the parent/guardian and the student’s responsible school division a copy of the report within seven (7) calendar days from the date of the incident.
Additionally, following an incident of physical restraint or seclusion, principals will ensure that within two (2) school days, they or their designee review the incident with all persons who implemented the restraint or seclusion to determine (1) whether the use of restraint or seclusion was implemented in compliance to the Regulations and SECEP procedures; and (2) How to prevent or reduce the future need for physical restraint or seclusion.
Within 10 school days following the second school day in a single school year on which an incident of physical restraint or seclusion has occurred, the student’s IEP or 504 team shall meet to discuss the incident and to consider, among other things, the need for: (i) an FBA; (ii) a new or revised BIP that addresses the underlying causes or purposes of the behaviors as well as de-escalation strategies, conflict prevention, and positive behavioral interventions; (iii) any new or revised behavioral goals; and (iv) any additional evaluations or reevaluations.
For students not under a 504 Plan or IEP, a team consisting of the parent, the principal or the principal’s designee, a teacher of the student, school personnel involved in the incident (if not the teacher or administrator already invited), and other appropriate school personnel, shall meet to discuss the incident and to consider, among other things, the need for: (i) an FBA; (ii) a new or revised BIP that addresses the underlying causes or purposes of the behaviors as well as de-escalation strategies, conflict prevention, and positive behavioral interventions; and (iii) a referral for evaluation.
During orientation and again each new school year parents/guardians are given a letter informing them of SECEP’s procedures regarding the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, student safety, the use of restraint, and make them aware of the possible use of seclusion in SECEP center-based programs. The parent’s signature on the returned letter only indicates that they have been informed of the use of these procedures.
- Program and Classroom Structure
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