In response to hearings before the Education and Labor Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives on "the abusive and potentially deadly misapplication of seclusion and restraint techniques in schools" Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to the states. His July 31 letter asked states to have "revised policies and guidance in place prior to the start of the 2009-2010 school year." That would have been about two weeks notice.
On Wednesday the Kentucky Department of Education sent a letter to school districts on the matter.
Duncan told the states,
I urge each of you to develop or review and, if appropriate, revise your State policies and guidelines to ensure that every student in every school under your jurisdiction is safe and protected from being unnecessarily or inappropriately restrained or secluded. I also urge you to publicize these policies and guidelines so that administrators, teachers, and parents understand and consent to the limited circumstances under which these techniques may be used; ensure that parents are notified when these interventions do occur; and provide the resources needed to successfully implement the policies and hold school districts accountable for adhering to the guidelines. I encourage you to have your revised policies and guidance in place prior to the start of the 2009-2010 school year to help ensure that no child is subjected to the abusive or potentially deadly use of seclusion or restraint in a school.
The Government Accountability Office also publicized testimony on “Seclusions and Restraints: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers.”
KDE informed state superintendents it has an initiative in place to implement Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), known as the Kentucky Center for Instructional Discipline (KYCID). KYCID has provided PBIS training to 303 schools. There are currently 25 district-level initiatives to implement PBIS. Additional information regarding PBIS can be found at the KYCID Web site.
Superintendents were told they could can find guidance regarding the use of time-out rooms posted on the Behavior Homepage Web site at the University of Kentucky.
KDE's guidance conforms to the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders guidelines and includes the following:
- physical restraint or seclusion procedures should be used in school settings only when the physical safety of the student or others is in immediate danger.
- Mechanical or chemical restraints should never be used in school settings.
- Neither restraints nor seclusion should be used as a punishment to force compliance or as
a substitute for appropriate educational support.
- any school which employs physical restraint or seclusion procedures should have a written positive behavior support plan specific to that program, pre-established emergency procedures, specific procedures and training related to the use of restraint and seclusion, and data to support the implementation of the principles of positive behavior supports in that environment as well as data regarding the specific uses of restraint and seclusion.
- Any student in seclusion must be continuously observed by an adult both visually and
aurally for the entire period of the seclusion. Occasional checks are not acceptable.