To The Editor:

Dear HUUSD Board members,

The United States Department of Health and Human Services has emphasized that the use of restraint and seclusion is a result of treatment failure. Two hundred eighty-one restraints at Brookside Primary School is a very strong indication that something is not working. Brookside Primary School (BPS) needs to stop doing what is not working. During my time as the BPS behavior support educator, I often heard that the school is “high needs.” The high needs was a reference to a high number of students who need a high level of specialized services. The idea that BPS has higher needs than other schools in Vermont is evidence of irrational thinking used to justify the high frequency of physical restraints.

The blame should not be placed on students with high needs, the blame lies squarely on the administration and the contracted service providers they hire for not fixing systemic treatment failures. BPS certainly does have high needs, but it is a high need for a paradigm shift amongst the administrators. BPS has a high need for trauma-informed practices that align with current neuroscience and a high need for more thorough de-escalation training. The administration should invest in education and training opportunities that are proven to help bring emotional crises to an end peacefully without violence. The administration should invest in training opportunities that are proven to help prevent these crises from occurring in the first place. There are better ways.

Brian Dalla Mura