INDIANAPOLIS – A state commission is drafting new guidelines for how Indiana schools should handle students with behavioral problems.
The commission’s focus will be on improving the safety of the students.
Among its goals, the nine-member commission is seeking to reduce the number of children who have been improperly confined in so-called school safe rooms.
The General Assembly approved a law creating the commission this year following reports in recent years of incidents involving special-needs students.
Wayne Township Schools, in suburban Indianapolis, has dealt with two incidents in the past two years, including an April lawsuit by the family of a student who had a finger severed when a staff member allegedly slammed a metal door on her hand last year.
In the other incident, the mother of a 9-year-old reported that her son was locked in a safe room last November in a Pike Township school without her being notified.
The commission will work this summer to create a state policy and a plan spelling out the methods school officials can use, its chairwoman, Danielle Shockey, told The Indianapolis Star.
Shockey, who’s the state’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, said public schools and some private ones won’t be required to follow those standards exactly.
Schools will instead be asked to review their current behavior-intervention plan and compare it with the commission’s recommendations.
Joan McCormick, a member of the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education, said the commission’s work is about keeping all students safe in a school environment.
The State Board of Education already recommends schools use a 2009 federal policy as a basis for their own discipline rules, but not all schools have plans in place.
During the commission’s first meeting last month, panel members discussed some of the cases of student injuries they knew of and sought to prevent more incidents by writing clear guidelines for schools to adopt and parents to understand.
The commission was scheduled to meet again Monday and will meet at least once more before Aug. 31.