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Update on ISBE’s Emergency Rules for the Use of Seclusion and Restraint

K-12 Education Publications

As we previously reported, effective immediately, school districts must comply with ISBE emergency rules for the use of seclusion and restraint. To comply with the emergency rule, districts will need to take the following steps:

  • Adopt or Update Board Policy: Districts must have a legally compliant policy before using either seclusion or restraint.
  • Stop Using Seclusion or Restraint to Maintain Order: The new rule restricts the use of time out and physical restraint to therapeutic purposes or as a means of maintaining a safe environment, to the extent necessary to preserve the safety of students and others. ISBE removed language that previously allowed the use of these methods related to “maintaining discipline” and maintaining an “orderly environment.”
  • Stop Isolation Without an Adult: Throughout Section 1.285, “isolated time out” is changed to “time out.” Now, a trained adult must remain with the student and the door cannot be locked during seclusion.
  • Start 15 Minute Assessments: When a student is in time out, the new rules requires that at least every 15 minutes, the trained adult must assess whether the student has stopped presenting the specific behavior for which the time out was imposed. The rule continues to require that a student not be kept in time out for longer than therapeutically necessary.
  • Stop Prone and Supine Restraints: The definition of physical restraint now prohibits the use of techniques that impair a student’s ability to breathe or speak normally and prohibits the use of prone and supine physical restraints.
  • Start 48-Hour Reports to ISBE: The rules continue to provide for documentation of the use of time out and physical restraint, including 11 specific pieces of information. The new rules require the State Superintendent to designate the form and manner of this written record, which can be found here. This form must be maintained as a student record and provided to ISBE within 48 hours.
  • Full 24-Hour Parent Reports: Previously, the information provided to parents was more limited than the full record that the school was required to maintain. Under the new rules, the full report must be provided to parents. Previously, parents had the option to waive receiving written notice of each incident of time out or physical restraint; this option has been removed.
  • Hold Meetings Every Third Restraint: The rules previously provided that after the first three uses of time out or physical restraint, a meeting be convened to review the effectiveness of the procedures and prepare an individual behavior plan as well as consider the need for an alternative program or for special education. The new rules require such a meeting after every three instances of non-therapeutic time out or physical restraint. We recommend that teams meet every third restraint regardless of whether the hold is considered “therapeutic” until a clear definition of therapeutic versus non-therapeutic is provided by ISBE. The meetings should be held as IEP meetings when the student has a disability.
  • Hold New Training for Staff: The new rules require adults who are involved in the use of time out and physical restraint to be trained in “de-escalation, restorative practices, and behavior management techniques” in addition to the training that was already required by the rules.
  • Expect Complaints. The emergency rules also add complaint procedures. The complaint is similar to a State Complaint under Article 14. The rules provide that the State Superintendent will issue a written decision with findings of fact and conclusions, as well as orders for any action, including technical assistance. This complaint process does not limit the other rights of parents and students, such as filing for mediation, a due process complaint, or a State Complaint under Article 14.

ISBE also issued a Dear Colleague Letter. The letter informs stakeholders of the emergency rulemaking and the new mandatory form. The letter also informs all entities educating Illinois public school students of the requirement to submit documentation of each use of isolated time out and physical restraint from 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 to date. These records are due to ISBE by December 20, 2019.

We will continue to monitor developments and provide guidance as this issue develops.