Call to Action: NYS Regs Allow Schools to Use "Aversive Interventions" on Children - Including Electric Shock
According to the New York regulations,
"aversive behavioral intervention means:
(i) application of noxious, painful, intrusive stimuli or activities intended to induce pain such as electric skin shock, ice applications, hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, hurling, strangling, shoving, deep muscle squeezes or other similar stimuli;
Note: These regulations are 18 pages when printed. Please study them. You will find an Action Plan and more advocacy tips at the end of this article.
Regulation 200.22(e) describes "child-specific exception to use of aversive behavioral interventions to reduce or modify student behaviors." (pages 12-14 of print document)
Public hearings and a public comment period are scheduled for August. By declaring them "emergency regulations," the Regents could pass the regulations in June without public hearings or a period for public commentary.
In September, the Board of Regents will vote and decide whether to make these regulations permanent. if you are the parent of a child with a disability and live in New York, you have work to do. Call to Action.
"Appropriate Supervision" of Staff
The regulations state, "Any person who uses aversive behavioral interventions on students shall receive appropriate supervision, including direct observation."
What is "appropriate supervision" of school personnel who are using "noxious, painful, intrusive stimuli or activities intended to induce pain" including electric shock, hitting, and strangling?
What type of supervision is appropriate for school staff who "withhold sleep, shelter, bedding, bathroom facilities, clothing, food, or hydration"?
Research on Use of Aversive Behavioral Interventions
"Humane and Dignified Treatment"
The regulations state that a program that uses aversive behavioral interventions on a child "shall provide for the humane and dignified treatment of the student and for the development of such student’s full potential at all times."
"The program shall promote respect for the student’s personal dignity and right to privacy and shall not employ the use of threats of harm, ridicule or humiliation, nor implement behavioral interventions in a manner that shows a lack of respect for basic human needs and rights."
How can a program that may include electric shock, punching, strangling, withholding sleep, shelter, bedding, bathroom facilities, clothing, withholding meals, limiting essential nutrition or hydration "promote respect for personal dignity and right to privacy"?
The regulation about time-out rooms is at Section 200.22(c) (see pages 11-12 of the print regulations)
Here are three examples of time-out room abuses:
* A child clawed his fingers bloody trying to get out of a time room.
* A young child with autism who was "included" in a regular classroom was thrown into a time-out room when he couldn't sit down and do his assigned work quietly. The school district had not performed a Functional Behavior Assessmentand had not developed a Behavior Intervention Plan, as required by law.
Given this dismal track record, how can parents believe that the New York state department of education will protect their children with disabilities from abuse in time-out rooms?
New York's regulations contradict federal regulations and policies about using restraint and seclusion for mentally ill youth in inpatient facilities and other non-hospital settings.
Note: The federal regulations cited below (42 CFR Ch. IV Subpart G) are for youth aged 21 or younger who are in inpatient psychiatric facilities or psychiatric residential treatment facilities.
"Right to be free from restraint or seclusion..."
Federal regulations state, “Each resident has the right to be free from restraint or seclusion, of any form, used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation.”
New York's new regulations permits restraints and time out rooms to be used as a means of discipline or coercion.
Genuine Safety Emergencies
New York's new regulations allow schools to plan to use restraints and time-out rooms for non-emergency situations. The regulations do not limit how long a child can be put in restraint or a time-out room.
Restraints & Time Out Rooms Should Never Be Used as Punishment
The New York department of education takes the opposite position and allows schools to use restraint and seclusion/time out rooms as punishment.
Trained Clinician Continually Monitors Physical and Psychological Status
The NYSED regulations state that a "staff member" has to monitor the child who is in a time-out room. The regulations do not specify the staff member or the training of the staff member, so this is likely to be an untrained aide -- or the janitor.
Three public hearings have been scheduled:
Albany on Tuesday, August 8
The New York State Department of Education will accept public comments until August 28, 2006. Please send your comments to:
Dr. Rebecca H. Cort, Deputy Commissioner
For information about providing testimony and/or comments, please go to:
If you are the parent of a child with a disability, you represent your child's interests. You need to be knowledgeable about these regulations - they may be used on your child.
Read the regulations. Study them. Make your voice heard.
Here is your Game Plan.
1. Print and study the regulations.
Print these regulations. Study them carefully so you know what they do and don't say. Use a highlighter. Make margin notes.
The regulations are confusing and difficult to follow if you try read them on a computer screen. For example, the regulations state that aversive interventions are not permitted, until you read "child specific exceptions" in Section 200.22(e).
2. Write to your policymakers, legislators, and the media.
Contact Your Senators: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer
The more people who write to their Regents, Assembly members, State Senators, Representatives, Senators, and newspapers, the more likely it is that your voice will be heard. Your goal is to overturn this regulation that allows schools to use aversive behavior interventions on disabled children.
Note: For suggestions about writing letters to policymakers and contacting the media, see the resources at the end of this article.
If your child has experienced aversive behavioral interventions, you need to document these incidents and the setting where they occurred (regular education building, BOCES center, etc) in a letter to the Regents and the New York State Education Department. Please email a copy of your letter to Dr. Leslie Packer at admin[at]tourettesyndrome.net
3. Provide testimony at one of the scheduled hearings. When you provide oral testimony, be sure to provide your testimony in written form at the same time. If you cannot provide testimony, write to your Regent and the state department of education and send copies of your letter to the individuals described in #2 (above).
4. Get the Word Out. Please forward this article and Action Alert for Parents to email lists, parent groups, PTAs, SEPTA groups, and individuals who are involved in educating children with disabilities.
5. Send Copies of Statements. If your organization sends a statement to the New York state department of education, or you write a letter that includes specific examples of abuses that your child or your client experienced, please send a copy of statement or letter by email to admin[at]tourettesyndrome.net so advocates can track how many statements NYSED received.
Contact Your Senators: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer
Articles About State-Sanctioned Physical Abuse
Action Alert: Abu Ghraib on the Hudson (html)
Chapters 23 and 24 in From Emotions to Advocacy describe how to write effective letters; sample letters; and tips for writing letters.
Working with the Media - http://www.ncld.org/at-school/your-childs-rights/advocacy-self-advocacy/working-with-the-media