Toolbox Tuesday!!

The Toolbox is a full day program aimed at campus administrators and special education staff who deal with students in the special education program who engage in challenging behaviors.  When I present The Toolbox, I’m describing the ten “tools” that are available to maintain safety and serve each student appropriately. The emphasis is on what to do, but sometimes we need to talk about what NOT to do.  The Texas Legislature just added a bunch of things to the DON’T DO list. 

One important new law, SB 712, will now be found at T.E.C. 37.0023.  It’s about “aversive techniques,” all of which are now on the DON’T DO list.  The statute defines an “aversive technique” as something that is 1) intended to reduce the likelihood of a behavior reoccurring by 2) intentionally inflicting on a student significant physical or emotional discomfort or pain.

Doesn’t corporal punishment fit that definition?  Yes. But the statute specifically exempts corporal punishment from the definition. So it remains legal, subject to local policy and the parent’s right to prohibit it.

The statute enumerates 13 examples of “aversive techniques” under this umbrella definition.  Today, I’m going to make a few general remarks about SB 712. Tomorrow, we’ll dive into more specifics.

General remarks: first, this new law will apply to all students, not just those in your special education program.  Second, it applies to all school employees, volunteers, and independent contractors.  This would include an SRO or contracted police officer.  Third, this new law is now part of Chapter 37, which does not apply to charters. So charters are not barred from using some of the 13 aversive techniques.  However, some (not all) of the 13 enumerated “aversive techniques” could probably be classified as child abuse, and certainly that would apply to any school.  Why would the legislature protect students in traditional schools from aversive techniques, but not those in charter schools?  I don’t have a good answer to that.


Tomorrow: More on SB 712.