|Action||Promulgating new regulation governing seclusion & restraint in public elementary & secondary schools|
|Comment Period||Ends 4/19/2019|
Restraint & Seclusion Considerations
I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization that provides services to children with developmental differences and I am a parent. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my concerns about 8VAC20-750. It’s concerning that the State of Virginia has decided to establish the parameters in which adults can legally enact trauma upon a child. Legislating the use of Restraint and Seclusion rather than outright banning its use is exactly just that- creating the legal justification for Restraint and Seclusion. However, I would ask that if you must legislate the use of Restraint and Seclusion you please consider several factors:
- Ban the use of Prone Restraints, face down physical restraints, or any restraint that impedes breathing. These techniques are especially dangerous, and there are several documented cases of these types of restraints causing deaths in adults and children. The use of prone restraint on children with disabilities has been banned in 33 states and simply, is outdated and unsafe.
- According to the U.S. Department of Education Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document, Restraint and Seclusion “should not be used as a routine strategy implemented to address instructional problems or inappropriate behavior (e.g., disrespect, noncompliance, or insubordination), and it may not be used as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience.” (1) As such, I would suggest that following language and justifications in 8VAC20-750 be stricken from the legislation as they are in violation of the USDOE guidance document. The use of Restraint and Seclusion:
1) to “maintain order & control”
2) when investigating or questioning about violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
3) to “quell a disturbance”
- The regulations state that restraint “may only be used in an emergency situation.” However, this definition of when restraint and seclusion may be used is subjective in nature and lacking clear guidance on when it is acceptable for teachers and administrators to act. What constitutes an emergency for one teacher may not for another. We need to ensure that if we are going to give permission for teachers and administrators to conduct this type of intervention then it must be clearly defined what circumstances in which action it is deemed appropriate.
- If the state is going to permit the use of restraint and seclusion, then it needs to ensure that all teachers, administrators and school employees (to include bus drivers) are equally trained.
- Rather than focusing on training staff on how to restrain, efforts should be focused on training school personnel how best not to restrain in crisis situations while keeping themselves and their students safe. To achieve this training should not be limited to verbal de-escalation techniques but also education about trauma-informed practices and disabilities.
- Training is not FREE. Requiring school divisions to align with the necessary training requirements without providing funding to support this directive only creates another financial burden on school divisions already struggling to keep pace with the many unfunded mandates of federal and state requirements. Please ensure that any training mandate is accompanied by funding from the state to divisions.