Ohio

Eye on Education

Here’s Your Chance to Shape Ohio’s Seclusion and Restraint Policy

Tina M. Steele / Flickr

Seclusion rooms are enclosed spaces that are supposed to be used to calm or restrain children who become violent. Seclusion — and restraint, or physical force used to control a child — are often used for children with disabilities.

Seclusion and restraint are supposed to be used only in emergencies. But they’re misused in Ohio schools, sometimes as a tool of convenience for frustrated staff.

In Ohio, no state law governs the use of seclusion rooms, and the Ohio Department of Education has provided little guidance and virtually no oversight to schools. But there’s a national movement towards regulating the use of seclusion and restraint. And now Ohio is moving towards developing its own rules on the use of seclusion and restraint in schools.

That’s where you come in.

The Ohio Department of Education is collecting public feedback regarding a draft policy and state rule concerning seclusion and restraint in schools:

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives regarding allegations of death and abuse at facilities where children are in the care of adults that are charged with providing safe and secure learning environments. The GAO reviewed federal and state seclusion and restraint laws applicable to children in public and private schools. The GAO found no federal laws restricting the use of restraint and seclusion in public and private schools and minimal and varied laws at the state level.

Seven state departments joined together to create a work group dedicated to researching issues related to the use of physical and chemical restraints within their systems. Those departments agreed on recommendations that were incorporated into a state-wide policy on the use of prone restraints in particular. The use of seclusion interventions or physical restraint may only be used by trained staff and under the approval, guidance and restrictions as outlined within each state department’s policies.

We are collecting public comments and feedback regarding the draft policy and rule. Both include a purpose, applicability, definitions, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, prohibited practices, seclusion, restraint, training/professional development, required data and reporting, monitoring and references.

You can view the draft policy and rules online. You’ve got until Oct. 24 to submit feedback via this Ohio Department of Education online form.

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