INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state commission is drafting new guidelines for how
Indiana schools should handle students with behavioral problems, with a
focus 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
The General Assembly approved a law creating the commission this year
following reports in recent years of incidents involving special-needs
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
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."
"We want to make sure everyone listens to this policy and plan — not just
special-education teachers and special-education educators," she said.
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.