Disability Rights Ohio issues statement on ODE seclusion and restraint policy, rule

January 9, 2013 / restraint and seclusion

The Ohio Department of Education is expected to approve a policy and a rule next week that would create statewide standards around seclusion and restraint of students in schools. Disability Rights Ohio has released the following statement from its Chief Legal Counsel Sue Tobin:

The proposed adoption of a rule regulating the use of restraint and seclusion in Ohio schools is welcomed and long overdue. It provides for their use as a last resort and only in the case of serious and imminent harm to the student or others. We hope that this rule will end some of practices observed during the course of our investigations, such as the use of seclusion for minor behaviors and the use of restraints that restrict a student’s breathing.

While there are many positive aspects to the rule, we are disappointed that the rule does not ban seclusion, which prevents a student from leaving, and fails to include community schools. No research supports the use of seclusion as therapeutic, effective or as an instructional strategy. To the contrary, research shows that individuals often suffer physical and emotional harm when placed in solitary confinement against their will. Schools should provide sensory and calming environments when needed by the student, but these settings are different than seclusion in their purpose and effect.

We applaud requirements for: notification to parents, reporting and oversight by the Ohio Department of Education, a system for registering complaints about violations of the rule, prohibition of techniques that restrict breathing, prohibitions on the use of restraint and seclusion for the purpose of punishment, convenience of staff or as a substitute for appropriate positive services and supports, and prohibition of seclusion in a locked room.

We hope that school districts will embrace these rules and will implement positive, research-based strategies that ultimately will result in the elimination of the use of seclusion and restraint of Ohio’s school children.

View the whole text of the ODE rule: 3301-35-15 Standards concerning the implementation of positive behavior intervention supports and of restraint and seclusion [PDF]

View the whole text of the ODE policy: Policy on Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, and Restraint and Seclusion [PDF]

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