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In Light of Federal Study on Student Discipline, KSMU Reports on Springfield Public School Policies

A new report the federal government released this week outlines cases where special needs students were injured and in one case died after school officials restrained them. The report takes a broad look at discipline used in public and private schools but found that it’s special needs students who face the most abuse. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports on how Springfield Public Schools strikes a balance between the appropriate use of force and keeping students and teachers safe.

When students act out in a way that’s dangerous to them, their peers or teachers, it presents a challenging situation. On the one hand, there’s a need to maintain a safe environment in schools. On the other hand, there’s a need to do that in a way that doesn’t injure the student who is acting out.A new report from the federal government is raising serious questions about how some schools handle discipline, especially when it comes to special needs students.Jennifer Beuerlein is the assistant director of special services for Springfield Public Schools. She explains how Springfield school personnel can handle a special needs student whose behavior is potentially dangerous.

The federal report noted instances where students were restrained using bungee cords and duct tape. Beuerline says even if restraint is necessary, personnel in Springfield public schools can use what are called “therapeutic holds” on a student. She says they are not allowed to use some of the techniques outlined in the report.

CPI stands for Crisis Prevention Institute. It’s an agency the school district uses to provide training to teachers and other staff. The training specifies how to use appropriate holds to restrain students whose behavior is dangerous.Amy Krause (Kraus-ee) is the director of special services for Springfield Public Schools.She says CPI will send a trainer to Springfield this summer to prepare local school staff to do training within the district. Krause says that will mean more people in the district will have training on how to respond appropriately.

Krause says the goal is to have 5 trained staff members in each school building. She says the hope is that trained personnel can de-escalate a situation quickly and safely. Krause says the federal report confirms that Springfield is on the right track when it comes to discipline and responding to inappropriate and dangerous behavior.

Krause says those reports on student restraint have not been collected in a centralized way. But she says the district will begin collecting those reports. She says she’s not sure if those reports or the cumulative data on cases where students were restrained will be available to the public.