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Ohio State Board of Education Vote on Seclusion, Restraint Policy Delayed

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Friday, December 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Gary Knight / Flickr

With more than 100 parents, educators and other commenters weighing in on the Ohio state Board of Education's plan to regulate the use of seclusion rooms and restraint in Ohio schools, the state board has postponed scheduled votes on the proposed regulations.

Seclusion rooms are enclosed spaces that are supposed to be used to calm or restrain children who become violent. Seclusion — and restraint, or physical force used to control a child — are often used on children with disabilities. But an investigation this year by StateImpact Ohio and The Columbus Dispatch found the rooms are often misused.

Ohio does not currently regulate the use of seclusion in schools. Some forms of restraint are banned in schools, but there is no detailed state policy on restraint in schools.

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Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton says the votes on the new policy and an accompanying legislative rule have been tentatively rescheduled for the state board's January meeting to give board members more time to review public comments.

The board's vote on the issue is still scheduled for March, Charlton says. The policy would go into effect by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The regulations the state board is considering would require schools to track and report how often they restrain or seclude children. They also call for:

  • Limiting use of seclusion rooms to cases of "immediate threat" of physical harm;
  • Notifying parents if their children are secluded or restrained; and
  • Training staff in behavior management techniques.

Attempts to regulate the use of seclusion have been met with opposition from some Ohio school-district leaders.

Superintendents have said department existing state law on corporal punishment already provides enough guidance to keep students and staff safe. They have also said requirements that schools evaluate the behavior of all disruptive students and provide staff training are “unfunded mandates.”

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