I have a 10 year old son who has Down syndrome. He is significantly developmentally delayed and does not speak. His teacher decided to make a storage closet in his classroom his timeout room. She put a chair in the closet facing the wall, several times a day she sat him in there and made him stay .
She said she wasn’t sure if it was “ethical” or “unethical” but his behavior was much better for the rest of the day. What action should I take?
1. You need to write a letter that describes your child and his disability. You need to describe what the teacher told you she did.
Clearly state, in writing, that you did not consent to your child being put in the closet before the teacher took that action. State that you do not consent to this happening again.
The special education law contains provisions about dealing with children’s behavior problems and/or issues. The IEP team needs to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). Using data from the assessment, they need to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to address those behaviors.
These articles will describe how IEP team should conduct these assessments and plans:
An IEP Team’s Introduction to Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans – Describes the IEP team’s responsibility to do a functional behavioral assessment to identify the cause of the child’s behavior and develop positive behavioral interventions and supports to address problem behavior.
Functional Behavioral Assessment & Positive Interventions: What Parents Need to Know by Dixie Jordan. Is the child a problem? Does the child have a problem? Is suspension from school “good medicine for bad behavior?” Article describes strategies parents and teachers can use to assess problem behavior and teach appropriate behavior skills to children.
Functional Behavioral Assessments: What? Why? When? Where? Who? Dr. Stephen Starin describes problem behaviors, functional behavior assessments, environmental manipulation, and qualifications and training of evaluators.
After you read the articles, you will have a good handle on what needs to be done.
2. You need to request an IEP team meeting (in writing).
Describe your concerns. Advise the team that the team needs to develop appropriate strategies to deal with your child’s behavior issues, issues that may be fueled by frustration at his difficulties learning.
The IEP team is required to consider your concerns about your child’s special education program, progress, etc.
3. You need to keep notes. Your notes should tell the story beginning with the teacher telling you that she put him in the closet, your emotional response, what you did, what you requested, what the school agreed to do, etc. You need to keep a cool head and try not to overtly blame, and be persistent about resolving the problems.
This link will take you to a page about how to document problems, how to write letters to the school, and includes several sample letters: