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:
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:
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.
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.
Corporal Punishment and Use of Force
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