Archive for March 2019

Attorney James Sibley is a potent advocate for special needs students and their families fighting for fair treatment. In this episode of the Safety Doc Podcast, Attorney Sibley and host David Perrodin discuss the sprawling practice of limiting or exempting students with disabilities from school safety instruction, drills and access to threat reporting systems. James and David employ authentic stories that educators and parents will relate to in this vibrant discussion that is not about assigning blame and all about a more informed way for parents, educators and students to think about how to calibrate inclusive school safety. REASONS FOR EXEMPTING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS FROM SAFETY INSTRUCTION. Attorney Sibley explains that educators think they are somehow "protecting" students with special needs by limiting their participation in safety drills. Many of these students present unique challenges during emergency situations and they shouldn't just be included in regular safety planning, there should be specialized safety plans in place for them. And, for those plans to be successful there needs to be preparation and practice. Dr. Perrodin adds that the hyper-realistic design of contemporary school intruder drills also prompts educators and parents to limit students with special needs from exposure to these types of drills. However, the question also arises of the appropriateness of these drills for all students and staff. Has the threshold of “reasonable” safety drills been crossed? LAWS FOR STUDENT SAFETY INSTRUCTION: IDEA and ADA. Attorney Sibley describes two of the primary laws that impact student safety instruction. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a piece of legislation that ensures the approximately 8 million students with a disability are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. Students with disabilities that receive special education or related services have a plan developed by the school team and parents to meet the needs of the child. That plan can, and should, include specific instruction and supports to ensure the student’s safety is maintained during a crisis situation. The other significant piece of legislation addressed by Attorney Sibley is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People commonly think of this in terms of ramped entrances and accessible bathrooms. However, he brought awareness to Chapter 7 Addendum 2: The ADA and Emergency Shelters: Access for All in Emergencies and Disasters identifies that one of the government’s (including schools) primary responsibilities is to protect people during disasters and emergencies and to provide shelter that accommodates all persons, including people with disabilities. INCORRECT APPLICATION OF THE IEP PROCESS RELATIVE TO STUDENT SAFETY. First, you can’t do something in the IEP that would violate the ADA. The IEP has a portion that includes testing accommodations and Attorney Sibley mentioned that as teams discuss this section it is sometimes incorrectly broadened to include participation in safety instruction. Ultimately, students can’t be exempted from school safety instruction or drills for any reason. ASKING QUESTIONS IS THE WAY TO LEARN ABOUT A STUDENT’S SAFETY INSTRUCTION AT SCHOOL. Attorney Sibley believes much can be learned when parents adopt an inquiry-based approach to learning about their child’s school safety instruction and participation in drills. He gave the example of the following questions a parent might pose to school staff: “Are these drills designed to increase and enhance the safety on the campus? And if the answer is yes, is there some reason that you don’t want my child to be safe – as I want them to be safe and I assume you do, too.” WE UNDER-ESTIMATE THE POTENTIAL OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES DURING CRISIS SITUATIONS. Dr. Perrodin gave accounts of educators that exempted children with special needs from drills only because they anticipated that they would not perform well during the drill. In fact, the student had never been afforded the opportunity to demonstrate competency in the drill. Attorney Sibley added a story of when he was a Scout Leader and the Scouts, including some with disabilities, needed to respond to a rapidly rising river. Although the Scouts hadn’t practiced for that specific scenario, they had practiced for unforeseen situations and also recognized a chain of command. They processed the flood without panic and, as Attorney Sibley underscores, students with special needs will surprise us with how well they can handle emergency situations.  FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: www.safetyphd.com The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: thesafetydoc@gmail.com LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com Learn more about ADA Chapter 7 Addendum 2 at https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap7shelterprog.pdf

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I was attending a convention for school safety “experts” - I suppose. The presentations were a mix of pitches from field experts and product vendors. There wasn’t much new for me to learn and I found myself rather cynical and skeptical watching others present on school safety as everyone has a self-serving agenda. One of the veteran experts, someone I knew and tipped my hat to his work in both law enforcement and then in schools.  He begins his presentation with an amazing example of confirmation bias and headline research.  Headlines appear on the screen - the baited / incomplete headlines of school shootings and school violence.  A few seconds of audio from a newsreporter interrupted by another clip and another.  Headline after headline and faster and faster and more dramatic, rising background music for maybe 100 seconds. The screen goes dark. The presenter stands silent for an uncomfortable number of seconds. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is the urgency of school safety in America”, he said. I countered that this was not the state of school safety in America, but rather a perfect example of “headline research” manifesting in confirmation bias.  Yet, had that convention room been filled with parents, they would have demanded action – or fortification. Now. At any cost. WHAT IS CONFIRMATION BIAS. Per Wikipedia, confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations). HOW CONFIRMATION BIAS IMPACTS SCHOOL SAFETY. Remember, people will seek information that supports their beliefs. I can recognize this immediately when I’m not a “fit” for a school district that has hired me as a consultant. When I deviate from their company line, the audience frowns or they get a worried look. Confirmation bias often assumes there’s been some type of research conducted - but I’ve found that’s just not accurate - it’s more like my colleague and his headlines. Confirmation bias will prevent systems from evolving.  New thinking is dismissed. THEY SAW A GAME; A CASE STUDY. “When the Dartmouth football team played Princeton in 1951, much controversy was generated over what actually took place during the game. Basically, there was disagreement between the two schools as to what had happened during the game. A questionnaire designed to get reactions to the game and to learn something of the climate of opinion was administered at each school and the same motion picture of the game was shown to a sample of undergraduate at each school, followed by another questionnnaire. Results indicate that the "game" was actually many different games and that each version of the events that transpired was just as "real" to a particular person as other versions were to other people.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved) Hastorf, A. H., & Cantril, H. (1954). They saw a game; a case study. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 49(1), 129-134. FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: www.safetyphd.com The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward  productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: thesafetydoc@gmail.com LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com

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Schools are exempting students with disabilities from participating in safety instruction and safety drills. These misplaced pardons are enabled via an incorrect application of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP)  process or a district-generated parent “opt-out” form. First, let’s be clear that it is illegal to exempt students from mandated fire drills. However, the practice is sprawling, unchecked and not enforced. Dr. Perrodin predicts deadly consequences from “protecting” children with special needs from receiving proper safety instruction. ANECDOTES. David kickstarts this episode by noting he is donning a beanie and insulated jacket as the basement of his North Star Studio was barely pushing the thermometer to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Worse yet, the evening temperature would dip to minus ten degrees - a bit brisk for March. He shuffles through a few thoughts on his mind including: Why aren’t windshield’s more durable; How his home town issued a rare decree liberating residents from shoveling their sidewalks for the rest of winter; Why is it that people forget the blatant racism of Dr. Seuss’ cartoons during World War II; and looking ahead to the August 10th release of his book School of Errors - Rethinking School Safety in America. THE PROBLEM WITH EXEMPTING STUDENTS FROM SAFETY DRILLS: There are at least 10 million school-age children with disabilities in America and they aren’t receiving the same quality of safety instruction as their non-disabled peers. Per disability rights attorney James Sibley, “It is amazing how schools think that "sparing" special ed students from participation in fire drills active shooter drills and the like is showing them some sort of kindness. Many disabled students present special challenges during emergency situations and they shouldn't just be included in regular safety planning, there should be specialized safety plans in place for them. And, for those plans to be successful there needs to be preparation and practice.” Students must be provided skills that will generalize to home, stores or trips.  And, these skills must be resilient and reliable as the student exits school and enters the post-secondary setting. WHAT THE RESEARCH TELLS US ABOUT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AND SCHOOL SAFETY. Davis, Alicia & Gast, David. (1998). Social safety for young children: A review of the literature on safety skills instruction. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. 18. 222-234. “Young children in today's society may find themselves in situations that require appropriate action in order to avoid dire consequences, such as injury of death. These situations may be the result of contact with objects in the physical environment action in order to avoid dire consequences, such as injury or death. such as guns, knives, or toxins. In other cases, children may be faced with confronting dangers in the social environment, such as avoiding the lures of strangers or responding to the abuse or neglect of a caregiver. Although safety education programs are implemented frequently in school settings, few research studies have systematically evaluated the methodology for teaching safety skills to young children.” Dr. Perrodin praised this study and also noted it was perhaps the best available on school safety instruction although it was done more than 2 decades ago. He pointed out that the study urged future research not be conducted in a group style, but individualized, and that it was critical to conduct “in vivo” data gathering - or to observe the child in various natural settings including school. FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: www.safetyphd.com The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward  productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: thesafetydoc@gmail.com LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com

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