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Scream room update: CT law misaligned with U.S. Department of Education's 15 Principals

posted May 20, 2012, 12:41 PM by Diane Willcutts   [ updated Aug 13, 2015, 7:50 AM ]
Good news for children with disabilities.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released Restraint and Seclusion:  Resource Document, which outlines 15 principals. 

From the document: 

". . . seclusion should not be used . . . except in situations where a child's behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others. . . "

". . . seclusion. . .should not be . . . a routine strategy  implemented to address instructional problems or inappropriate behavior (e.g., disrespect, noncompliance, insubordination, out of seat), as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience."  

". . . to the extent that State and local policies address the use of restraint or seclusion, those policies, including assessment and prevention strategies, should apply to all children in the school. . . "

However, the above is in opposition to Connecticut law, which permits seclusion of children with disabilities even in non-emergency situations, provided this is part of their Individualized Education Plan.  And this Connecticut law does not apply to children without disabilities.

Note that seclusion is not the same as a "time out."  The Resource Guide defines seclusion as "The involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving."  

Connecticut parents from all over the state have reported that some districts routinely confine students with disabilities in rooms (e.g., closets) that are either locked or held closed by adults.  Students have been locked in these rooms for hours at a time for behaviors such as refusing to comply with teacher directions.

The Connecticut House and Senate recently passed HB 5347 to require documentation of non-emergency use of seclusion, but documentation is not enough.  Connecticut needs to take immediate action to stop this abusive and discriminatory practice.


Diane Willcutts,
May 20, 2012, 12:41 PM