Seclusion & Restraint of School Children Remains Problematic

It has now been over 2 years since Wisconsin passed a law prohibiting inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint and regulating its reporting and use.  Just last month, Alaska became the latest state to pass a law regulating seclusion and restraint of students in schools, making it the 33rd state to have some level of regulation of this dangerous practice, although the nature of the regulation amongst the states is highly inconsistent.  This is why many educators, parents and advocates have called for passage of the Keep All Students Safe Act (KASA) by Congress so that our nation has uniform protection of children to be safe from the dangerous inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint.

Even when states, such as Wisconsin, pass laws on seclusion and restraint, enforcement of those laws and reporting of the use of seclusion and restraint is often inconsistent.  Indeed, a recent study concludes that that use of seclusion and restraint on students with disabilities continues to be a problem despite passage of these state laws.

In this study, the authors compared nationwide data from the 2009-10 school year to that same  data from the 2011-12 school year.  While this data does not include possible reductions in seclusion and restraint due to recently passed laws, such as in Wisconsin  and Alaska, the authors findings should still cause concern.  Their conclusions include:

  • Low poverty, low minority school districts are more likely to report use of seclusion and restraint than high poverty, high minority districts; and
  • Use of seclusion and restraint is more common in cities than in rural school districts.
In addition to advocating for Congressional passage of KASA, concerned parents, educators and advocates can also consider advocating for the following key improvements to reduce the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint of children in our schools:
  1. Provide training and funding for implementation of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) in our schools;
  2. Provide training for parents and funding for advocates for children to make sure their rights to be free from the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint in school is honored;
  3. Pressure state education agencies to enforce the laws which they have on the books which restrict the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint; and
  4. Provide sufficient funding for adequate staffing in the classroom so that teachers and their aides do not react impulsively by inappropriately using seclusion and restraints due to insufficient support.

Our children deserve better and their staff deserve clear guidance and the support they need to provide appropriate behavioral interventions and support instead of the inappropriate and dangerous use of seclusion and restraint.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change e-mail Jeff Spitzer-Resnick or visit Systems Change Consulting.

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