Proposed restraint and seclusion introduced by MDE
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Friday, the Mississippi Department of Education announced that a revised seclusion and restraint policy will be available for public comment for the next 30 days.
According to an MDE release, this is the state’s first policy on secluding or restraining students who become a danger to themselves or others.
Thursday, the Mississippi State Board of Education voted to relaunch the public comment period, the release states. In June 2015, the SBE released a draft policy to the public and based on comments, the MDE revised the policy.
According to the release, the MDE and SBE support a positive approach to behavior and the use of proactive strategies to create a safe school climate, which is conducive to learning.
But, at times, some students demonstrate physically violent behavior or are deemed a danger to themselves or others, the release states.
According to state law, school staff is allowed to intervene when students are exhibiting violent behavior. The state board policy prohibits the use of excessive force or cruel and unusual punishment, the release states.
“Restraint and or seclusion should not be used as a punitive measure,” State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said in the release. “We encourage school districts to ensure they have Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in place. That is a firm foundation for any school environment.”
The proposed policy states that physical restraint is only used as an emergency response after all verbal de-escalation measures have failed.
Seclusion is the use of a specifically designated room that is physically isolated from common areas and from which the student is physically prevented from leaving, the proposed policy states.
The proposed policy also outlines requirements, which include:
• Documenting each incident when a student is placed in restraint or seclusion.
• After the incident, school personnel involved in the incident and appropriate administrative staff must hold a debriefing session.
• School districts that permit restraint and seclusion must train staff members in the use of restraint.
• Policies and procedures must apply to all students and not focus on one or more subgroups of students.
“Our goal is to ensure the safety and security of all students and school staff while providing school districts with guidance for handling serious student behavior issues,” Wright said in the release.
The proposed policy can be found online at www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/2016-board-agenda/tab-03-apa-restraint-sec_001.pdf?sfvrsn=2.
Written comments must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Tollie Thigpen, Office of Safe and Orderly Schools, Mississippi Department of Education, P.O. Box 771, Suite 210, Jackson, MS 39205-0771.