JKAA: Physical Restraint of Students
All Falmouth Public Schools staff members are obligated to maintain an orderly, safe environment conducive to learning. Further, all students of the District are protected by law from the unreasonable use of physical restraint. The Falmouth Public Schools complies with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (hereinafter “DESE”) regulations governing the use of restraint, which can be found at 603 CMR 46.00 et seq. (hereinafter “Regulations”). According to their terms, the Regulations apply not only at school but also at school-sponsored events and activities, whether or not on school property. A brief overview of the Regulations is provided below.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that every student attending the Falmouth Public Schools is free from the unlawful use of physical restraint. Physical restraint shall be considered an emergency procedure of last resort and shall be prohibited in public education programs except when a student’s behavior poses a threat of assault, or imminent, serious, physical harm to self or others, and the student is not responsive to verbal directives or other lawful and less intrusive behavior interventions and/or alternatives, or such interventions and/or alternatives are deemed to be inappropriate under the circumstances. When an emergency situation arises and physical restraint is the only option deemed appropriate to prevent a student from injuring themself, another student, or school community member, a teacher or employee or agent of the district may use such reasonable force needed to protect students, other persons, or themselves from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm. School personnel shall use physical restraint with two goals in mind:
- To administer a physical restraint only when needed to protect a student and/or a member of the school community from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm; and
- To prevent or minimize any harm to the student as a result of the use of physical restraint.
The definitions of forms of restraint shall be as set forth in 603 CMR 46.02. The use of mechanical restraint, medication restraint, and seclusion is prohibited. Seclusion does not include a time-out, as defined within the Regulations. The use of “time-out” procedures during which a staff member remains accessible to the student shall not be considered “seclusion.” Prone restraint is prohibited except in limited circumstances set forth in the 603 CMR 46.03. In the Falmouth Public Schools, prone restraint is prohibited. All physical restraints shall be administered in compliance with 603 CMR 46.05.
Physical restraint shall not be used:
- as a means of discipline or punishment;
- when the student cannot be safely restrained because it is medically contraindicated for reasons including, but not limited to, asthma, seizures, a cardiac condition, obesity, bronchitis, communication-related disabilities, or risk of vomiting;
- as a response to property destruction, disruption of school order, a student's refusal to comply with a policy or directive, or verbal threats when those actions do not constitute a threat of assault, or imminent, serious, physical harm;
- as a standard response for any individual student. No written individual behavior plan or individualized education program (IEP) may include use of physical restraint as a standard response to any behavior. Physical restraint is an emergency procedure of last resort.
The Regulations do not limit the protection afforded publicly funded students under other state or federal laws, including those laws that provide for the rights of students who have been found eligible to receive special education services.
The Superintendent or designee will develop procedures identifying:
- Appropriate responses to student behavior that may require immediate intervention;
- Methods of preventing student violence, self-injurious behavior, and suicide including crisis Planning and de-escalation of potentially dangerous encounters among groups of students or individuals;
- Descriptions and explanations of alternatives to physical restraint as well as the school’s method of restraint for use in emergency situations;
- Descriptions of the school’s training and procedures to comply with reporting requirements including, but not limited to making reasonable efforts to orally notify a parent of the use of restraint within 24 hours of its imposition;
- Procedures for receiving and investigating complaints;
- Methods for engaging parents in discussions about restraint prevention and use of restraint solely as an emergency procedure;
- A statement prohibiting medication restraint, mechanical restraint, prone restraint unless permitted by 603 CMR 46.03 (1)(b), seclusion, and the use of physical restraint in a manner inconsistent with 603 CMR 46.00;
- A process for obtaining Principal approval for the time out exceeding thirty (30) minutes.
All school staff must receive training with respect to the district’s restraint prevention and behavior support policy and requirements when restraint is used. Each Principal will identify staff who are authorized to serve as a school-wide resource to assist in ensuring proper administration of restraint. These individuals must participate in in-depth training in the use of physical restraint and implementation of the Regulations. In addition, each identified staff member will be trained regarding the district’s physical restraint policy and accompanying procedures. The Principal will arrange training to occur in the first month of each school year, or for designated staff hired after the beginning of the school year, within one (1) month of their employment.
Program staff shall report the use of any physical restraint, as required by the Regulations. The report shall be maintained by the school and made available for review by the parent/guardian or the DESE upon request. The Principal or designee shall make reasonable efforts to inform the parent/guardian of the restraint within twenty-four (24) hours of the event, and shall notify the parent/guardian by written report within three (3) school working days of the restraint. The information in the report shall be in conformance with 603 CMR 46.06(4). The written restraint report must be provided to the parent/guardian in the language in which report cards and other necessary school- related information are customarily provided. The Principal or designee shall review restraint data weekly and shall also conduct a monthly review of school-wide restraint data and take steps to reduce or eliminate the use of restraint within the school where appropriate. All physical restraints that result in injury must be must be reported to DESE. In addition, the District will collect and annually report data relating to the district’s use of restraints to DESE.
As set forth in the Regulations, the Falmouth Public Schools shall develop methods for preventing student violence, self-injurious behavior, and suicide, including individual crisis planning, behavior intervention plans, and de-escalation of potentially dangerous behavior occurring among groups of students or with an individual student.
In accordance with the regulations, the Falmouth Public Schools shall engage parents/guardians in discussions about restraint prevention and the use of restraint solely as an emergency procedure.
Complaints and investigations regarding restraint practices are covered by District Policy.
Additional information, including a copy of the regulations, can be obtained from the Office of Student Services, Administration Building, 340 Teaticket Highway, East Falmouth, MA 02536, telephone 508-548-0151, extension 143. A copy of the regulations may also be obtained at www.doe.edu/lawsregs/603cmr46.html.
LEGAL REF: 603 CMR 46.00
CROSS REF: KE, Public Complaints
KE-R, Public Complaints