WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Local school bus drivers who transport students with special needs will receive training in restraint and seclusion techniques in time for the start of the 2016-17 school year, The Virginia Gazette reports.
Williamsburg James City County Public Schools spokesperson Betsy Overkamp-Smith told the newspaper that the training will be conducted over two days and will include "verbal and non-verbal de-escalation techniques and appropriate restraint methods." The techniques are intended to be used as a last resort and the district’s policy states that only employees who have been trained are allowed to use the techniques, The Virginia Gazette reports.
The new training follows an alleged assault on a special-needs student by a district bus driver and aide in June, according to the newspaper. However, Overkamp-Smith told The Virginia Gazette that the training is not being conducted in response to the incident. Overkamp-Smith also told the newspaper that she believes that a lack of training, the stressful environment, and a school bus driver shortage can lead to events like the recent alleged assault.
Bus driver Paul Smith told The Virginia-Gazette that he will welcome the training, and in the past has only had training that he described as “generic” and “very vague.” Meanwhile, bus driver Nicole Holloway told the newspaper that she often hears drivers asking for help with an unruly child and being told there is no backup available.
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