CATEGORY J: Students
PROCEDURE J9: Physical Restraint of Students
Maintaining a school environment that is conducive to student learning requires that the environment be orderly and safe. Physical restraint of a student may sometimes be necessary to protect the student or other individuals. Physical restraint is the use of bodily force to limit a student’s freedom of movement. Students in the district are protected by law from the unreasonable use of physical restraint.
The two goals of the physical restraint policy are:
1. To administer physical restraint only when needed to protect a student and/or member of the school community from imminent, serious, physical harm; and
2. To prevent or minimize any harm to the student as a result of the use of physical restraint.
The School Districts’ emphasis is on prevention and de-escalation, which reduces the risk of injury to both students and program staff. The emphasis is always on the care, safety, and welfare of our students and the primary technique used is verbal de-escalation. Physical restraint may only be used when non-physical interventions would not be effective and the student’s behavior poses a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm to self and/or others.
The district will adhere to all laws and state regulations governing physical restraint.
Use of Physical Restraint
The only physical restraints to be used are those taught by the approved Restraint Training Program.
District employees and representatives should only use a Physical Restraint on a student when all other less intrusive alternatives have failed, would not be effective or are deemed inappropriate to prevent a student’s behavior from posing a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm to self and or to others. Physical Restraints on students shall be limited to the use of such reasonable force as is necessary to protect a student or another member of the school community from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm.
Other Forms of Restraint
Other forms of restraint that limit the physical freedom of an individual student by mechanical means or seclusion in a limited space or location, or temporarily controlling the behavior of a student by chemical means are prohibited or limited.
- Chemical restraint is defined as the administration of medication for the purpose of restraint. The use of chemical or mechanical restraint is prohibited unless explicitly authorized by a physician and approved in writing by the parent or guardian.
- Seclusion Restraint is defined as physically confining a student alone in a room or limited space without access to school staff. The use of seclusion restraint is prohibited in public education programs. The use of “time out” procedures during which a staff member remains accessible to the student shall not be considered “seclusion restraint.”
- Mechanical Restraint is defined as the use of a physical device to restrict the movement of a student or the movement or normal function of a portion of his or her body. A protective or stabilizing device ordered by a physician shall not be considered mechanical restraint.
Students with Disabilities
Restraints may be administered to a student with a disability pursuant to the student’s Individualized Education Plan or other written and agreed upon plan developed in accordance with state and federal law, subject to the following exceptions:
- The limitations on chemical, mechanical, and seclusion restraint shall apply; and
- The training and reporting requirements (described below) shall apply.
Who Shall Provide Restraint
The only school personnel who should physically restrain children are those who have been trained through an approved Restraint Training Program. Each building will provide its staff with a list of the school’s personnel who have been trained through the Restraint Training Program. Whenever possible, these trained staff members will be called upon to administer physical restraint in situations where a student’s behavior poses a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm to self and/or others.
Notably, nothing in state regulations (603 CMR 46.00) precludes any teacher or employee from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons, or themselves from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm. In addition, nothing in these regulations should interfere with or prohibit law enforcement, judicial authorities or mandated reporter responsibilities.
Whenever possible, the administration of a Physical Restraint on a student shall be witnessed by at least one adult who does not participate in the Physical Restraint.
When administering a Physical Restraint on a student, school personnel shall use only the amount of force necessary to protect the student or others from physical injury.
During the administration of a Physical Restraint on a student, a staff member or agent shall continuously monitor the physical status of the student, including skin color and respiration. A student shall be released from a Physical Restraint immediately upon a determination by the staff member administering the Physical Restraint that the student is no longer at risk of causing imminent physical harm to himself or herself or others.
Additionally, a Physical Restraint on a student shall be administered in such a way as to prevent or minimize physical harm.
If at any time during a Physical Restraint the student demonstrates significant physical distress, the student shall be released from the Physical Restraint immediately, and the staff member or agent shall take steps to seek medical assistance for the student.
District staff shall review and consider any known medical or physiological limitations and/or behavioral intervention plans regarding the use of Physical Restraints on an individual student.
Prohibitions on Use of a Physical Restraint
Additionally, school employees or agents administering a Physical Restraint on a student shall use the safest method available and appropriate to the situation
Physical Restraints on students are prohibited as a means of punishment or as a response to property destruction, disruption of school order, a student’s refusal to comply with a school rule or staff directive or verbal threats that do not constitute a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm.
No Physical Restraints on ARPS students shall be administered in such a way that a student is prevented from breathing or speaking.
The use of Seclusion Restraints or Chemical Restraints on students is prohibited. The use of Mechanical Restraint on students is prohibited unless explicitly authorized by a physician and approved in writing by the parent or guardian.
Floor and prone restraints are prohibited on students unless the staff or agents administering the restraint has received in-depth training, and, in the judgment of the trained staff member, such method is required to provide safety for the student or others present.
At an appropriate time after a student has been released from a Physical Restraint, the school shall implement the follow-up procedures set forth below:
Any Physical Restraint on a student of five (5) minutes or longer and/or resulting in an injury to a student or staff member shall be reported verbally and in writing to the school principal and to the student’s parents or guardians.
Report to Principal: The staff member who administered a Physical Restraint on a student of five (5) minutes or longer and/or resulting in an injury to a student or staff member shall verbally inform the principal or his/her designee of the Physical Restraint as soon as possible and no later than the close of the school day in which the Physical Restraint was administered.
No later than the next school working day after the Physical Restraint, the staff who administered the Physical Restraint shall complete a written report regarding the restraint.
Any written report must include the following information:
The school will, within five school working days of the reported restraint, provide to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a copy of the written report. A copy of the record of physical restraints maintained by the program administrator for the thirty day period prior to the date of the reported restraint will be provided when a restraint has resulted in a serious injury to a student or program staff member or when an extended restraint has been administered.
The principal or his/her designee shall maintain an on-going record of all reported instances of physical restraint, which shall be made available for review by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request.
Report to Parents/Guardian: The principal or his/her designee shall verbally inform the student’s parents or guardians of any Physical Restraint of five (5) minutes or longer and/or resulting in an injury to a student or staff as soon as possible and by a written notice in the language most spoken by the student’s family and postmarked no later than three (3) school working days following the use of such Physical Restraint. A copy of the written report regarding the Physical Restraint shall be sent to the student’s parent or guardian. The report will be redacted to protect the privacy of any students or staff identified in the report. The written notice and report shall be provided to the parent or guardian in the language most spoken by the family.
Parent/guardians may voluntarily waive the reporting requirements as stated above for restraints that do not result in serious injury to the student or a program staff member and do not constitute extended restraint. The Districts shall not require parent/guardian consent to such a waiver as a condition of admission or provision of services. Parent/ guardians may withdraw consent to such waiver at any time without penalty.
Report to Superintendent’s or Designee: When a Physical Restraint is administered on a student, the principal shall provide the Superintendent’s designee with copies of the completed documentation regarding the recent physical restraint and the record of previous restraints. This documentation must be provided to the Superintendent’s designee no later than two (2) school working days from the administration of the Physical Restraint.
Report to DESE: When a Physical Restraint on a student results in a serious injury to a student or staff member or when an Extended Restraint (twenty (20) minutes or longer) on a student has been administered, the principal shall send to DESE within five (5) school working days of the administration of the Physical Restraint copies of the Report and a written log of all Physical Restraints administered in the school within thirty (30) days previous to the reported restraint. If possible, and the information entered must be consistent with the written report regarding the restraint.
As allowed by state law, students and/or parents/guardians who feel that the procedure or associated guidelines have not been applied properly may request an investigation of an incident by the school principal. If not satisfied with the results of that investigation, students/parents may request an independent investigation of the incident by the superintendent.
Training on Physical Restraint
General training for new hires
General training on restraint is required for all employees of the district. A general training shall occur within the first month of each school year and, for employees hired after the school year begins, within a month of their employment. Each principal or director shall determine a time and method to provide all program staff with training regarding the districts’ restraint policy. This will include but not be limited to:
- The program’s restraint policy;
- Interventions that may preclude the need for restraint, including de-escalation of problematic behaviors;
- Types of restraints and related safety considerations, including information regarding the increased risk of injury to a student when an extended restraint is used;
- Administering physical restraint in accordance with known medical or psychological limitations and/or behavioral intervention plans applicable to an individual student; and
- Identification of program staff who have received in-depth training in the use of physical restraint.
In-depth staff training:
At the beginning of each school year, the principal or his or her designee shall identify program staff who are authorized to serve as a school-wide resource to assist in ensuring proper administration of physical restraint. Such staff shall participate in in-depth training in the use of physical restraint. The training shall be at least sixteen (16) hours in length.
In-depth training in the proper administration of physical restraint shall include, but not be limited to, the content required by state law.
This procedure and any accompanying guidelines shall be reviewed and provided to school staff annually. These shall also be made available to parents of enrolled students.
Limits of Procedure
Neither this procedure nor the accompanying guidelines precludes any teachers, employees, or agents of the Districts from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons, or themselves from assault or imminent, serious harm.
Massachusetts Regulation – 603 CMR 46.00
POLICY JKAA: Physical Restraint