Toolbox Tuesday!! Dealing with resistance to “time out”

The special education lawyers in our firm held our annual internal Continuing Legal Education seminar a few weeks ago, and as usual, I was blown away by the depth of experience and insight the lawyers in Walsh Gallegos can offer.  For today, I want to just offer one specific example of a suggestion that was made by one of my partners from the Irving Office, Jan Watson. 

We were talking about misunderstanding and/or resistance to the use of any form of “time out.” Texas requires that if this technique will be used recurrently it must be listed in the student’s IEP or BIP.  So put yourself at the ARD meeting where this is being discussed and the parent balks: “I don’t want any use of time out with my child.” What to do?

Jan’s suggestion was first to ask: what is it about time out that you object to?  The answer to that question might reveal that the parent’s understanding of “time out” is much different from the way the district uses this technique. So that discussion, clarifying exactly how “time out” works, would be a good idea and it might resolve the problem.

If the parent is still hesitant, Jan had a second suggestion: to accompany “time out” with a goal that we could monitor for progress. The goal, for example, could be to reduce the amount of time the student takes to regain self-control. Remember that the entire premise of “time out” is that it is used in an effort to help the student regain self-control. 

In our firm’s Toolbox Training we spend a lot of time on Tool #1—the BIP.  The use of time out, like anything else that goes into a student’s behavior plan should be designed to teach, nurture, and encourage the kind of behaviors that facilitate learning.  A BIP does not describe what the school will do TO the student. The Code of Conduct does that. A BIP describes what the school will do FOR the student. That should be emphasized anytime parents are resistant to the content of the BIP.


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Tomorrow: remember when the coach ordered the football players to attack the ref?