A Word from the Legal Team

A New Law Addresses Behavioral Health interventions

A bill banning seclusion and limiting when restraints may be used in public schools became law this year. This law prohibits the use of seclusion as a behavioral health intervention in public schools and limits the use of physical restraint except in certain circumstances.

The definitions in the law are riddled with exceptions, making application difficult. Seclusion is defined as confinement of a student alone in a room or any other space from which the student is physically prevented from leaving during school hours. This does not include a behavior intervention plan that requires the separation of a student by placing the student into an unlocked room from which the student is allowed to leave or within a separate location in a classroom from which the student is not physically prevented from leaving.

Physical restraints may only be used in certain circumstances and must be tracked. After a student’s 10th incident of restraint, there must be a review and analysis of the pattern of the behavioral health interventions. Physical restraint is defined as a physical restriction that immobilizes a student or reduces the ability of a student to move their torso, arms, legs, or head freely. This expressly does not include a brief hold to calm or comfort a student, holding a student’s arm or hand to escort the student safely, moving a disruptive student who is unwilling to leave an area when other methods proved unsuccessful, or breaking up a fight.

Physical restraints are permitted to protect oneself or others from imminent serious physical harm when other less intrusive, non-physical interventions have failed. Most importantly, physical restraints may be used in order to maintain a safe educational environment for all.

The law took effect on July 1, 2022. Local school systems should be providing additional guiance during back-to-school events.

If you have additional questions, please contact your UniServ director.

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