Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports of Arizona

DDNN Fall 2015
John McDermott, Institute for Human Development
Northern Arizona University

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports of ArizonaDr. Dan Davidson of the Institute for Human Development (IHD) at Northern Arizona University (NAU) has a long history of collaborating with colleagues and valuable community partners to help children and adults with disabilities and challenging behaviors. The IHD, Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC), Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL), and the Sonoran UCEDD make up the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Network (DD Network) of partner organizations that are fostering independence, advocacy, and community integration of people with developmental disabilities.  One such collaboration centers on Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

PBIS is a framework of best practices that lead to improved school climates and student outcomes.  School personnel are trained extensively in the multi-tiered approach to preventing and responding to challenging behavior known as PBIS.  School personnel are taught to prevent problem behaviors by teaching and acknowledging expected behaviors, and by responding supportively to children during times of stress and challenging behavior. This in turn reduces the number of student behavior problems in a school and improves the school climate. Evidence for this can be found in the reductions of office discipline referrals, suspensions, arrests, and in incidents of restraint and/or seclusion.

IHD currently manages a grant funded by the ADDPC to build the state’s capacity to train and support schools, districts and charters, to implement PBIS. The ADDPC funded this project because of their desire to eliminate the use of needless and dangerous restraint and seclusion among students with developmental disabilities in schools. The ADDPC serves a crucial role by not only providing funding for the program but working to mutually support and ensure the success of the PBIS Programs.  ADDPC Director, Larry Clausen, stresses the collaborative strengths of the program. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” he says.  “We rely on each other extensively.  Our partners are critical to the success of PBIS.”  A unique strength of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports of Arizona (PBISAz) is the Advisory Council that brings a wide range of expertise and invaluable resources to support the goals of PBISAz.

Acting as an external evaluator for the grant, Dr. Lynn Tomasa of the Sonoran UCEDD interviews and surveys the PBISAz Advisory Council and other interested stakeholders in order to collect data on the climate and status of PBIS in Arizona.  In pulling together the information, Dr. Tomasa, with the guidance of the Advisory Council, reports on the issues surrounding, barriers to, and impact of PBIS in schools.

Rounding out the network is ACDL, and the various roles it has taken to provide information and advocacy to parents and educators on student rights regarding discipline. Renaldo Fowler has worked persistently over many years to provide training on Arizona laws and policies. On January 13, 2016, ACDL and IHD will host a workshop in Tucson that details the recently passed law limiting restraint or seclusion in schools (see Free Special Education Training for more information). SB 1459 - was signed into law by the governor on April 10, 2015 and can be found in Arizona Revised Statues (ARS 15-105). This law was a notable outcome of the collaborative efforts of the DD Network. Contact the ACDL for details about the Tucson workshop and plans for future workshops.

PBISAz represents only one example of the collaborative efforts of the DD Network, but one example that will have long lasting impact on Arizona’s young people with developmental disabilities.

For more information about PBISAz, please visit http://pbisaz.org