Georgia School Board Bans Restraint and Seclusion in Schools

In Georgia, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to enact Rule 160-5-1-.35 which prohibits the use of seclusion, prone restraint, mechanical restraint, and chemical restraint. The Rule will limit the use of physical restraint to those situations involving imminent danger. Additionally, the Rule requires schools to notify parents within one school day that their child has been restrained.
Before the historic vote, schools could restrain or seclude any student, at any time, for any reason.

The Safe Schools Initiative commended the Department of Education and the State Board of Edu- cation on this inaugural action to limit these dangerous practices. However, one key safeguard is noticeably missing: there are no provisions for reporting incidents of restraint beyond informing par- ents. Oversight, data collection and analysis are pivotal in identifying schools that need additional support to appropriately maintain a safe educational environment. After receiving overwhelming public support for data collection, the Board decided to withhold data collection about individual dis- tricts until the federal government mandates such practice. There is federal legislation considering the issue that is currently in committee, but the timetable and outcome are unknown. The Board publicly announced its eventual intent to collect outcome data; but the timeline, methodology, and stakeholder access to information are all unknown. [Ed. Note: The Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has started collecting data on restraint and seclusion use in selected school districts across the country].

The Safe Schools Initiative is a collaborative effort of five organizations - The Georgia Advocacy Office (the Georgia P&A), the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Center for Lead- ership in Disability at Georgia State University, the Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia, and Parent to Parent of Georgia - to end the restraint and seclusion of students in Georgia schools.

Reported in TASC Update Vol. 16, No9/10 June/July 2010