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Restraint and Seclusion

Oct. 13, 2022

In Connecticut, the use of restraint and seclusion is prohibited except in emergency situations that pose risk of immediate injuries to self or others. Restraint is the use of physical force, mechanical devices, or drugs to restrict freedom of movement or control behavior. 

Seclusion is the confinement of a student in a locked room or other space in which the student is physically prevented from leaving. Neither restraint nor seclusion should not be used for discipline or convenience. Behaviors such as throwing objects, tipping chairs, running around or out of the classroom, and swearing are not examples of emergencies, and therefore, should not be managed using restraint or seclusion. Although restraint and seclusion are supposed to be used as a last resort, school districts often do not follow state laws – with a disproportionate impact on children with disabilities. As a result, children are left with the loss of educational opportunities, personal injuries, and trauma. 

Although there is nothing in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that specifically addresses the use of seclusion and restraints, seclusion denies students with disabilities the right to free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) because the students are being excluded from participation in academics. 

In addition, the need for restraint and seclusion should signal that there are inadequacies in the special education and related services the student is receiving, and therefore, a more effective behavior plan is needed. In fact, as of 2018, seclusion is no longer permitted to be used as a behavior intervention in a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Instead, IEP teams are required to consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports. 

There is no evidence that restraint or seclusion provides any educational or therapeutic benefit to that child. However, there is evidence of the significant physical, psychological, and emotional danger that restraint and seclusion causes. Therefore, schools must replace these practices with positive behavior interventions and supports, programs that focus on social and emotional learning and restorative justice, and other services that protect the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of students. 

Your child should not be injured or traumatized while at school. Nor should your child be afraid to go to school each morning. If your child is repeatedly restrained or secluded at school, you should meet with your student’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT) as soon as possible. In addition, if the school is restraining or secluding your child illegally, failing to notify you within twenty-fours after the incident, or failing to send you a copy of the incident report within two days of the incident, a special education lawyer can help you work through your legal options and pursue the best course of action for your child. 

You can find further information here.