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Preventing Physical Restraints Scott F. Johnson, Esq. Education Law Resource Center PO Box 1803 Concord, NH 03302 888-474-3137.

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Presentation on theme: "Preventing Physical Restraints Scott F. Johnson, Esq. Education Law Resource Center PO Box 1803 Concord, NH 03302 888-474-3137."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preventing Physical Restraints Scott F. Johnson, Esq. Education Law Resource Center PO Box 1803 Concord, NH 03302 888-474-3137

2 About me Franklin Pierce Law Center and Concord University School of Law. New Hampshire Education Law (NHEdLaw, LLC) Resources and the book New Hampshire Special Education Law Manual. Education Law Resource Center, Resources mostly on restraints so far and the book Preventing Physical Restraints in Schools: A Guide for Parents Educators & Professionals.

3 This Info This powerpoint is on the website. Links to various school policies and other resources also on that site. New Hampshire Guidance document is on that website as well.

4 Overview Focus on physical restraints in public schools Some applicability to private schools Terminology Risks Sources of law Professional standards Suggestions with policies

5 Terminology Physical restraints defined different ways in different places. Generally means some physical method of restricting another’s freedom of movement. Some state laws distinguish holding or escorts that are done without the use of force.

6 Terminology NH law does not define restraints Guidance says the restriction of a child’s movement against his or her will and that Districts will need to further define and decide things like whether physical escort, touching to provide instructional assistance and other forms of physical contact will be specifically excluded from the definition of physical restraint.

7 Terminology Other types of restraints as well. Mechanical – devices to limit student movement Chemical – drugs that alter student behavior

8 Terminology Aversives – unpleasant or painful things done to students to discourage unwanted behavior. Range from electric shock, to odor therapy to time out. Corporal punishment – spanking, slapping, hitting.

9 Terminology New Hampshire’s state special education regulations prohibit public and private schools from using aversive or deprivational measures that subject a child to humiliation, unsupervised confinement, abuse or neglect, or a denial of basic necessities. Ed 1119.02 (e); Ed 1133.07(c).

10 One more Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS or PBS). Important concept with preventing restraints. A function based approach that looks a number of factors that could affect the student in order to affect change in student behavior. Can decrease or eliminate need for restraints.

11 PBIS Covers 4 areas: 1. Systems change 2. Environmental alteration 3. Skill instruction 4. Behavioral consequence Group process to evaluate and address all four areas. Resources on PBIS on website and in book

12 Risks Restraints are a dangerous method of intervention. A number of children have died while being restrained in other states. One NH student in private Massachusetts school some years ago. The Child Welfare League of American (CWLA) estimates that between 8 to 10 children die each year due to restraints with numerous others suffering various injuries from bumps and bruises to broken bones (not just in schools). Also emotional injuries to the students

13 Risks  Also dangerous for staff  Can be injured physically and emotionally Trauma of the situation with or without injury to a student  Opens up a variety of legal claims

14 Risks One of the leading causes of deaths during restraint is “asphyxia” which is a restriction of the person’s ability to breathe. It is referred to as restraint associated or positional asphyxia and sometimes called “Sudden Death Syndrome.” Restraint associated occurs during the process of restraining a person in a manner that causes difficulty with breathing in and out. This leads to insufficient oxygen in the blood which leads to a disturbed heart rhythm which leads to death.

15 Risks Any restraint that restricts the free movement of the chest or diaphragm may restrict breathing and contribute to positional or restraint associated asphyxia. Research shows that “prone restraints” or “floor restraints” are the most dangerous and most likely to cause asphyxia because they involve placing the child face down on the floor which puts pressure on the child’s ribs, chest.

16 Risks Students may also have risk factors such as medical conditions that exacerbate the risks of restraints. Students with asthma, epilepsy or heart conditions can be more prone to have adverse reactions, including death, with certain types of restraints. Obese students and students taking certain medications may also be more prone to adverse reactions with certain types of restraints.

17 Risks As a result of the dangers of prone restraints, some organizations and training programs have advocated that they never be used. Because of the risks of all types of restraints, many professional organizations and associations involved with children or behavioral health issues take the position that restraints should either not be used at all, or used only to prevent imminent harm to the student or others that cannot be prevented in any other way.

18 Risks The child’s treatment or programming should focus on other methods of addressing behavior, such as PBIS. If restraints are used, it is very important that safety measures to protect the child and the person restraining the child are implemented. Safety measures include training, monitoring and reporting.

19 Sources of Law The law provides parameters Professional standards are incorporated into the law in various ways Three main sources of law: 1. Constitution 2. Federal Statutes 3. State statutes and rules

20 Constitutional Requirements Due Process protections in 14 th amendment apply to all public school students United States Supreme Court decision Youngberg v. Romeo Individual has a right to be free from unnecessary or unreasonable restraints State has an obligation to train individuals performing restraints to ensure safety

21 Youngberg Focus is the exercise of professional judgment by qualified professionals Qualified by education, training or experience Restraints may be performed only when professional judgment deems necessary to ensure safety

22 Professional Judgment Based on standards of professional associations. Restraints used only in emergency situations to ensure safety of student or others Not used to punish or for compliance with rules Last resort when other methods have failed or can’t be used

23 Professional Judgment Staff must be trained in restraints and in de-escalation to avoid restraints Least restrictive form of restraint should be used Health and safety of student should be monitored during restraint Restraints should be documented and reported

24 Due Process Wrap Up Courts provide some deference to decisions about restraint if: 1.Restraints are performed by adequately trained personnel as a last resort when necessary to protect safety of students or others, and 2.Personnel making decisions about whether to restrain or not are qualified professionals based on education training or experience and make decisions based on professional judgment.

25 IDEA & 504/ADA IDEA now the IDEIA Applies only to students with disabilities Different definitions under the laws of students with disabilities IDEA applies to all public schools and some private schools 504 applies to schools that receive any federal funding ADA applies to public schools and some private schools

26 IDEA Does not specifically mention restraints Does specifically address behavior and PBIS Has been interpreted as requiring preventative methods like PBIS when possible before using restraints

27 IDEA Part of FAPE includes addressing behavior When behavior impedes learning of student or others team must consider strategies including PBIS to address the behavior. Functional behavioral assessments are a key component to PBIS. FBA’s are required in some circumstances with discipline and should be used when assessing behavior and ways to address it.

28 IDEA Discussion about appropriate assessments, interventions and supports should occur in IEP team. Students who require interventions, strategies or supports to address behavior should have that included in their IEP or behavior plan.

29 IDEA While preference for PBIS seems inconsistent with physical restraints, the USDOE has not prohibited them under the IDEA. Courts also have allowed restraints under IDEA.

30 IDEA Courts and administrative agencies have followed the IDEA’s preference for PBIS and positive interventions prior to using restraints Find IDEA violations when restraints are unnecessary or inconsistent with student’s IEP

31 IDEA By contrast when restraints are performed consistent with requirements of IEP and to protect the student or others generally no violation.

32 504/ADA Prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities. Some students who are not eligible under IDEA may be protected by 504/ADA Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has interpreted these statutes as requiring schools to develop behavioral plans for students whose disability related behavior interferes with their ability to receive educational benefit.

33 504/ADA OCR has found the use of restraints violates 504/ADA in some circumstances:  Using restraints to control behavior without fully considering evaluations of qualified individuals  Unilaterally restraining (without consent of parents) 15-20 times in 2 month period. Not in IEP or behavior plan. Strapped student into a wheelchair tied to a radiator. Some lasted 30-45 minutes.  Restraining a student for refusing to listen to directions to move to another location.

34 504/ADA By contrast when the restraint is done as a last resort to prevent harm or done pursuant to a behavior plan or IEP, OCR generally finds no violation

35 Summary of Legal Requirements Restraints should be viewed as a last resort and performed only when other less restrictive methods have failed or cannot be implemented because of the emergency nature of the situation. Restraints should be performed only to protect the student or others from imminent physical harm. Restraints should be performed only for the amount of time necessary to resolve the danger to self or others.

36 Summary of Legal Requirements Restraints should be performed with the least amount of force possible to protect the student and others. Restraints should never be done to punish or force compliance with a rule just for compliance sake (as opposed to complying with a rule that involves protecting a student from imminent harm). Restraints should only be performed by trained individuals.

37 Summary of Legal Requirements Individuals making the decisions about whether to restrain or not to restrain must be qualified professionals who are competent by education, training or experience to make the decision. Parents should be included in decisions about performing restraints when possible and notified as soon as possible after the restraint.

38 Summary of Legal Requirements If restraints are considered for students with disabilities, the student’s IEP team should meet and determine if they will be used and include the decision in a behavior plan, 504 Plan or IEP. Restraints should then be performed, or not performed, pursuant to the provisions of the behavior plan, 504 Plan or IEP.

39 Suggestions Develop a policy on the use or non- use of physical restraints Helps ensure everyone knows what they are supposed to do Provides a framework for staff to make decisions Provides notice to parents and students about the process

40 Suggestions #1) If restraints are permitted think about:  Incorporating PBIS requirements in the policy  When restraints can and cannot be used  What types of restraints can and cannot be used  Who can restrain  Monitoring requirements Have a 3 rd person monitor when possible  Documentation and reporting requirements Book has an example incident report  Notification provisions  Debriefing

41 Suggestions #2) Implement and enforce the policy

42 Suggestions #3) Train staff  on the requirements of the policy  on de-escalation Including staff counter-aggression  on when restraints can be used, if they can under the policy  on how to restrain in a way that minimizes risk or harm and legal liability

43 Training Resource The Education Law Resource Center initiated the Restraint Prevention Project. The Project provides funding to assist in the cost of training. Application process Volunteer committee selects applicants Funding for the project is from proceeds from the book and has run out. Looking for ways to raise funds for the project. Maybe a conference?

44 Resources Preventing Physical Restraints in Schools: A Guide of Parents, Educators & Professionals has more info on these topics and on developing school polices. Website, has links to a variety of resources about

45 The End Questions?

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