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Eye on Education

Our Neighbors in Kentucky Approve State Policy Limiting Use of Seclusion Rooms

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The Kentucky State Board of Education voted today to sharply limit the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools. The Kentucky policy would also require schools to tell parents when seclusion and restraint are used.

Kentucky did not previously regulate the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools. Ohio does not currently regulate the use of seclusion rooms in schools. However, a 2009 executive order does prohibit restraining students face-down.

Our joint investigation with The Columbus Dispatch found that seclusion, in particular, is misused in Ohio schools. Seclusion rooms are enclosed spaces that are supposed to be used to calm or restrain children who become violent. But some teachers use them to punish children. At times, placing children in the rooms is a convenience for frustrated employees.

Many Ohio schools that StateImpact Ohio and The Dispatch surveyed that use seclusion rooms have no formal policy about when or how the rooms should be used or about how parents should be notified. And many Ohio schools do not train staff in the proper use of seclusion rooms.

Kentucky’s policy says seclusion may only be used when a student’s behavior “poses an imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.”

The superintendent of one Kentucky school district told the Kentucky board the new state policy is similar to his district’s.

“They’re common sense and they’re things that come from a lot of conversations with a lot of constituents,” Marion County Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Hamilton said.

The Kentucky policy says school staff must:

  • Visually monitor students in seclusion rooms;
  • Try less restrictive interventions first; and
  • Be “appropriately trained” to use seclusion.

That training includes teaching a “core team” of teachers and other staff about the proper use of seclusion and restraint, as well as teaching all district staff in positive behavior support.

The Kentucky policy specifically says that seclusion may not be used as punishment, to prevent property damage, a convenience for staff, or as a substitute for less restrictive forms of timeout.

It also requires schools to:

  • Notify parents within 24 hours of putting their child in a seclusion room;
  • Allow parents to request a “debriefing session” with school staff after seclusion is used; and
  • Report to the state how seclusion is used.

Kentucky’s policy also requires all staff who use seclusion and restraint to experience restraint themselves as part of their training.

The Kentucky policy now goes through a public hearing and review process, and could be changed before it’s implemented. A department spokesperson said the new policy will likely not take effect until after the 2012-13 school year.

Comments

  • No Name

    Hey Reporter,

    You really need to go back to Journalism ethics 101 where it says that you should report the facts as they exist, not as you would like them to be.

    FACT: KENTUCKY DID NOT ENACT THE REGULATION WHICH YOU LINK TO. ANY MORON/JOURNALIST WHO CAN READ CAN SEE THAT IT’S A DRAFT.

    YOU SHOULD NOT BE PROMOTING AND LOBBYING FOR A POLICY AND USING KENTUCKY AN EXAMPLE OF A STATE THAT ENACTED REGULATIONS WHEN IN FACT KENTUCKY DID NOT ENACT ANY REGULATION REGARDING RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION AS YET.

    IN FACT: 1. The proposed policy which limits school’s ability to use restraint and/or seclusion except where there is a danger of imminent physical harm is an absolute disaster. This means that schools and teachers will not be able to use restraint, seclusion or time out for any behavior except where there is a danger of imminent physical harm. So you will not be able to move or escort a student who is acting out from a room, you will not be able to put a student in seclusion or time out for disobeying or acting out or tearing up a room or screaming or throwing a tantrum. The proposed policy is an absolute disaster. Just ask Maine.

    Maine just adopted this policy in April, is about to change the policy due to outcry from schools. As one school put it: “We can’t restrict students in any way,” Hall stated. “This is for all students in a student environment. It affects the kinds of things we used to do. We need to move a child quickly, if they are in distress, and if they are knocking things down in a classroom, we are not allowed to touch them — you need to document the reasons, any time you put your hands (in a position) to restrict movement or use restraint.” “If a student is tearing things apart from a room,” Hall said, “unless that child is in harm’s way — what the law is saying is, ‘You can’t stop that child — if you do, that’s illegal.” After reading the policy and the procedure attorneys are advising school districts that “the only safe thing for a school employee to do is call the police”. As a result of this ill-advised regulation, it is expected (Supt. MacDonald said it is “highly probable”) that administrators “will be back next fall or winter with a revised version” of the policy on physical restraint and seclusion. So the same advocates that are putting forth an agenda in Ohio already put forth this same agenda in Maine and it was met with such an outcry of practical resistance they will have to change the regulation. Instead of taking note of this fact, the same advocates are putting forth the same inane policy that Maine enacted that not 4months after enactment Maine is expected to revise. http://www.bridgton.com/new-restraint-policy-could-be-a-touchy-subject/

    Congress REJECTED banning the use of restraint as part of an IEP or behavioral plan on three separate occasions and the Federal legislation was never enacted.

    Congress rejected banning the use of restraint and seclusion as part of an IEP or behavioral plan on three separate occasions. NDRN and Protection and Advocacy, thwarted at the Federal level then started going state by state to try and convince legislators to enact restraint legislation that the Federal government repeatedly dismissed as illegal and out of hand.

    The American Association of State Administrators (“AASA”) Agrees with Congress:

    So does the National Association of School Boards (NASB)

    Despite the belief of some organizations [NDRN, TASH and Protection and Advocacy] most do not believe that restraint and seclusion are written into a student’s IEP so teachers and staff can abuse the child. While NDRN, TASH and Protection and Advocacy are pushing legislation that implies teachers and clinicians cannot be trusted in developing an appropriate IEP or BP, most believe that the people with the personal, professional and emotional interest in the student i.e. parents, guardians, teachers and clinicians are the ones best suited to determine the specific needs of the child.

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