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Seclusion and Restraint in Schools

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Restraint and seclusion in our nation’s public schools has become an important topic in education in recent years. There have been reports of children being injured and even killed while being restrained or secluded in school. Restraint and seclusion has been reported to often be misused to force a student to stay on task or as a disciplinary measure, despite the generally-held belief that restraint and seclusion are not proactive strategies. To add to this, until recently, there were no federal laws to prevent or reduce restraint or seclusion of school children.

Advocacy organizations for people with disabilities, including the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P & A) organizations, have reported that children with disabilities have been inappropriately restrained and secluded in schools and have called for further attention to the restraint and seclusion of children in schools. At the same time, there have been disciplined and professional approaches to the appropriate use of restraints with school children that will need to be assessed as changes are made in the regulatory and educational environments.

This increased focus on the appropriate treatment of school children during distressed situations has resulted in increased regulatory attention, both at the Federal and State levels. As a result of this regulatory attention, changes will be required in local school environments across the nation to address these issues. Regulatory action has been taken at the Federal level, as well as the State level. The State of Minnesota, for example, has instituted legislation regarding restrictive procedures relative to seclusion and restraint, as well as training requirements for teachers, that will be in effect August 1, 2011.

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