Public school staff may physically restrain or seclude a child, on an emergency basis, in order to prevent immediate or imminent injury to the
child or to others. Such involuntary physical restraint or seclusion may not be used to discipline a child because it’s convenient or as a substitute for a
less restrictive alternative. In the event that a child is physically restrained or secluded on an emergency basis, the school staff must attempt to notify the child’s parent within 24 hours of the incident.
Seclusion and Restraint
A parent may be proactive by requesting that the PPT develop positive behavioral interventions and supports in order to avoid the use of seclusion or physical restraint. Also, although there is no legal option for a parent to simply “opt out” of the use of seclusion or physical restraint, a parent may submit a letter that details, for the record, how the parent feels about the use of seclusion or physical restraint.
At the first Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting that a child’s school district holds to discuss the child, district staff must inform the child’s parents about the laws, as well as the rights of the parents, regarding physical restraint and seclusion.
Involuntary seclusion may be included as a behavior intervention in a child’s IEP, if other less restrictive positive behavior interventions appropriate to the behavior exhibited by the child have been tried and were not effective. If seclusion is included in the IEP, the IEP must detail when and how the parent will be notified of each incident of seclusion.
If a parent disagrees with the decision to include seclusion in the IEP, the parent has the right to object by utilizing the due process procedures.
Information on Seclusion and Restraint from various organizations:
Wrightslaw re: Abuse & Restraints in School;
Families Against Restraint and Seclusion;
OSEP Center on Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports;
National Disability Rights Network.