Milford schools OK use of exclusionary timeout in some situations

Milford Public Schools

Milford Public Schools

Contributed photo

MILFORD — City schools can use “timeouts” to deescalate situations and allow students to calm themselves, but the practice is not to be used as a punishment, according to an updated school board policy.

The Board of Education, at its meeting on April 11, finally approved the revised policy on the use of exclusionary time-out settings after numerous revisions.

“What we’ve done is made a clarification on the way timeout is used as an intervention,” said Christopher Brown, the school system’s director of pupil personnel series. “It will vary a bit between how it’s implemented with students' special education services compared with students who are receiving a regular education program.”

Behavior management practices for students may sometimes include the use of time-out. A timeout area is a place for students to safely deescalate, self-regulate, self-calm, regain control and prepare to meet expectations to return to his/her educational program, according to the policy.

Timeouts are not used for punishing or disciplining a student, the policy adds.

The policy also says teachers should have general behavior management plans for all students. In one of the early revisions, board member Cindy Wolfe Boynton pointed out that the sentence made it seem that each student needed a behavioral management plan instead of having a general classroom management plan.

“I want to thank all of those who were involved,” said Boynton. “I know it was a process, but I think it was well worth the time put in clarification.”

After several meetings on the policy, the board came to the conclusion there needed to be a clarification on how time-outs would be implemented and used for students receiving special education and those who are not.

“The key piece for students receiving special education purposes is that the behavior intervention plan is part of the student's individualized education plan,” said Brown. “The behavior intervention plan is developed in collaboration with the parents who are part of the planning and placement team.”

For students who are not receiving special education services, Brown said it’s noted that the intervention behavioral plan is part of good classroom management that can happen in any regular education classroom.

“A teacher can have a time-out space that can be helpful to students to regulate their behavior and emotions during a classroom lesson,” he said.

As stated in the policy, for students who do not have disabilities or IEPs, the parent or guardian will have the opportunity to see the time-out area, which is located in the classroom.

“The purpose of this paragraph is to clarify that a timeout can be in a regular education classroom, and used as a proactive strategy, as we refer to it as a calming corner, zen den or something that to that effect,” said Brown.

Additionally, parents or guardians will be notified if their child has used timeout during the school day, the policy states.

“This is a fabulous version of this policy,” said board member Una Petroske. “It is very clear.”