By Mary S. Gerbig
The use of seclusion (forms of “time out”) and the use of physical restraint with students in the educational environment are currently the subject of nationwide debate. Legislators on both the state and federal level are considering the enactment of statutes to regulate the use of seclusion and restraint with students in the regular education and special education settings.
On September 11, 2009, the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provided public notice of its decision to start collecting data relative to school district seclusion and restraint practices as a part of its ongoing Civil Rights Data Collection procedure. OCR will also include as new areas for its data collection information on bullying and harassment, college preparatory classes and teaching experience.
OCR’s proposal for the data collection would require that local educational agencies provide three tables of data on restraint and seclusion: one for all students, one for students with IEPs and then one for students without IEPs. Although OCR has not provided a formal explanation, collecting the data in this format indicates that OCR is viewing the use of restraint and seclusion in schools as an issue that is not limited to special education. The deadline for the public comment on the proposed revisions to the Information Collection was November 10, 2009.