West End SELPA Procedural Advisory – Behavioral Emergencies

This advisory is written to assist staff in appropriately responding to serious behavior problems, which may require the use of physical intervention or result in serious property damage. The information is based on California’s AB 2586, commonly referred to as the Hughes Bill and the Title 5 implementing regulations.

What is a behavioral emergency?

A behavior emergency is the demonstration of a serious behavior problem, requiring a physical intervention:

  1. which has not previously been observed and for which a behavior plan has not been developed; or
  2. for which a previously developed behavior plan is not effective during the emergency.

To be defined as a behavioral emergency a behavior must pose a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the student or others, or it must pose the threat of serious property damage.

An individual can identify a behavioral emergency by asking the following questions:

  1. Is there a threat of serious physical harm to the student, to another student, or to a staff member? Is there a threat of serious property damage?
  2. Is the possibility of serious physical harm or property damage imminent?
  3. Are less restrictive alternatives unavailable?

If the behavior can be contained by techniques such as: redirecting the student, removing the other students, removing a demand, providing the student with a break, allowing the student to vent, or maintaining a safe distance from the acting out person, then it is not a behavioral emergency and physical restraint may not be used. For example if a student is non-compliant, refusing to comply with a teacher directive, it is not permissible to physically force compliance, unless failure to follow the directive would cause imminent serious physical harm.

 Emergency Interventions

Emergency interventions may only be used to control unpredictable, spontaneous behavior which poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the individual or others and which cannot be immediately prevented by a response less restrictive than the temporary application of a technique used to contain the behavior.

Only approved emergency interventions techniques may be used. The approved emergency intervention techniques for the West End SELPA are those developed by the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). These techniques are:

  1. Child control position
  2. team control position
  3. transport position

Staff employing these techniques must be trained and certified in the approved non-violent crisis intervention -CPI. This training is available through the West End SELPA. The initial training is a two day training. Certification is valid for a two year period; staff may renew their certification by completing a one day refresher course within the two year period, or by retaking the complete two day training. The West End SELPA strongly encourages that all staff who work with potentially acting out students become certified in CPI. Behavior Intervention Case Managers are required to be certified in CPI.  

Behavioral Emergency Incident Reports

California Education Code requires that any time an emergency intervention is used or serious property damage has occurred; a Behavioral Emergency Incident Report must be completed and maintained in the student’s file. A copy of the completed Behavior Emergency Incident Report must be sent to the parent or care provider within 24 hours of the incident. A copy of the Behavior Emergency Incident Report must also be sent to:

  • Site Administrator/County Principal
  • West End SELPA, Due Process Office
  • District Director of Special Education/Area Director

The designated responsible administrator must review the behavioral emergency incident report.

If the student does have a current behavioral support plan, an IEP must be scheduled within two days to review the Behavior Emergency Incident Report, to determine the need for a functional analysis assessment and to determine the need for an interim behavior intervention plan. If the IEP team determines that an interim behavior intervention plan and/or functional analysis assessment is not needed, the IEP team shall document their reasons using the West End SELPA Determination of Need for a Functional Analysis Assessment form.

If the student does not have a current behavior support plan or a behavioral intervention plan, an IEP must be scheduled within two days to review the Behavior Emergency Incident Report, to determine the need for a functional analysis assessment and to determine the need for an interim behavior intervention plan. If the IEP team determines that an interim behavior intervention plan and/or functional analysis assessment is not needed, the IEP team shall document their reasons using the West End SELPA Determination of Need for a Functional Analysis Assessment form.

If the student does have a current behavior intervention plan, the IEP team shall review the Behavior Emergency Incident Report and determine if the behavior intervention plan needs to be modified or revised.

The West End SELPA shall, on an annual basis, report the number of Behavioral Emergency Incident Reports to the California Department of Education.

Note: While this advisory specifically addresses the issue of Behavioral Emergencies, California’s regulations on Positive Behavior Intervention also require the use of Functional Analysis Assessment and Behavior Intervention Planning not just in response to behavioral emergencies, but also in cases when behavior is interfering with mastery of IEP goals and the behavioral/instructional approaches specified in the IEP have been ineffective. Please refer to Chapter 9 of the West End SELPA Procedural Manual for further information.

The following forms can be located in the SEIS Document Library for forms:

  • Behavior Emergency Incident Report Form
  • Behavior Emergency Incident IEP Follow-Up Form
  • Determination of Need for a Functional Analysis Assessment