The U.S. Department of Education has entered the debate around the use of restraint and seclusion in its most substantive way yet. In a 40 page document released last week, the Department identified 15 principles that it suggests states, local school districts, preschool, elementary, and secondary schools, parents, and other stakeholders consider as the framework for policies and procedures related to restraint and seclusion.
“As education leaders, our first responsibility must be to make sure that schools foster learning in a safe environment for all of our children and teachers,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “I believe this document is an important step toward this goal. I also want to salute leaders in Congress for their vigilance on this issue.”
The 15 principles that frame the document ultimately highlight how schoolwide behavioral interventions can significantly reduce or eliminate the use of restraint or seclusion. These guiding principles offer states, districts and other education leaders a framework for developing appropriate policies related to restraint and seclusion to ensure the safety of adults and children.
Importantly, the document emphasizes that restraint and seclusion are not treatment for behavior disorders and it affirms CEC’s position that any use of restraint or seclusion in schools should only occur in emergency situations - when there is a threat of imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or others. The document also provides a synopsis of ongoing efforts by federal agencies to address national concerns about using restraint and seclusion in schools, and includes links to state restraint and seclusion policies and procedures.
“Ultimately, the standard for educators should be the same standard that parents use for their own children,” Duncan added. “There is a difference between a brief time out in the corner of a classroom to help a child calm down and locking a child in an isolated room for hours. This really comes down to common sense.”
CEC applauds the Department for its work on this document and for the continued emphasis on this important issue.
Rea d CEC’s resources on Restraint & Seclusion.
Read the Department of Education’s full document here.