Restraint of students with disabilities | TCTA
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Restraint of students with disabilities

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TEA rules (19 TAC, Sec. 89.1053) limit the use of physical force or a mechanical device that would significantly restrict the free movement of all or a portion of a student’s body.

The use of restraint must:

  • be limited to such force as is reasonable to address an emergency;
  • be discontinued when an emergency no longer exists,
  • be implemented to protect the health and safety of the student and others; and
  • not deprive the student of basic human necessities.

Anyone who restrains a student must receive training within 30 school days, if not previously trained in restraint. The training must include prevention and de-escalation techniques, restraint alternatives, accepted practices and standards regarding behavior management.

If an employee restrains a student:

  • a principal or designee must receive notice of the restraint that day;
  • a good faith effort must be made that day to notify the student’s parent(s);
  • written notice to the parent must be placed in the mail or given to the parent within one business day; and
  • the student’s eligibility folder must contain documentation of the use of restraint.

The documentation of the restraint and the parent notice must include the “who, what, when, where and how” of the restraint, a description of the conduct requiring the restraint, and the alternatives and de-escalation attempted. Recently passed legislation directs the commissioner rules to require districts to provide detailed written notification to a parent for each use of restraint that notes (if the student has a behavioral plan) whether the plan may need to be revised due to the student’s behavior or (if the student does not have a behavioral plan) information on how to request an ARD committee meeting to discuss conducting a functional behavioral assessment and developing a plan.


Actions that are not considered restraint include limited physical contact with a student to promote safety (e.g., holding a student’s hand), prevent a potentially harmful action (e.g., running into the street), teach a skill, redirect attention, provide guidance to a location, or provide comfort.

Timeouts and seclusion

The rules also include limitations on the use of timeout and seclusion. Timeout occurs when a student is separated from other students for a limited period in a setting that is not locked and in which the exit is not physically blocked by furniture, a closed door held shut from the outside, or another inanimate object. Recent legislation prohibits the use of timeout that precludes a student from progressing appropriately in the curriculum and annual goals in the IEP, including physically isolating the student; or a technique or intervention that deprives a student of one or more senses or results in a denial of supervision of the student. But it specifies that these provisions do not prohibit a teacher from removing a student from class under current discipline laws.

If a special education student has a behavioral intervention plan or a behavioral improvement plan, the school district must document each use of timeout due to a behavior specified in the plan, including a description of the behavior that led to the timeout.

View the rules online here.

See also:

Corporal Punishment and Use of Force

Discipline Under IDEA

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)