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Statutory Changes to Physical Restraint and Seclusion Reporting Requirements

June 21, 2012

On June 6, 2012, Governor Malloy signed into law Public Act 12-88, An Act Concerning the Reporting of Children Placed in Seclusion, which becomes effective on July 1, 2012. This Act amends slightly the reporting requirements for boards of education regarding the use of physical restraint and seclusion with students eligible for special education services or students awaiting an eligibility determination. The Act also mandates that the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) collect data from boards of education regarding the use of physical restraint and seclusion.

With regard to the reporting requirements, the amended law now provides that, in documenting instances of physical restraint and seclusion, boards of education must identify "whether the use of seclusion was in accordance with an individualized education program or whether the use of physical restraint or seclusion was an emergency, including the nature of the emergency that necessitated its use . . . ." This new requirement was added to the existing requirements to (1) record all instances of restraint and seclusion, including the nature of the emergency that necessitated its use and (2) include such information in an annual compilation concerning the use of restraint and seclusion.

The required reporting forms for both physical restraint and seclusion developed by the SDE already include a section for identifying whether seclusion was indicated in the student's individualized education program, or whether the seclusion or restraint was conducted in an emergency and the nature of that emergency. Thus, it is likely that the current forms comply with the new statutory changes. A copy of the required seclusion reporting form can be found here, and a copy of the required physical restraint reporting form can be found here.

The amended law now also requires boards of education to report any injury that results from the physical restraint or seclusion of a student in a public school. Such report must be made to the SDE and must also be included in the annual compilation of incidents of physcial restraint and seclusion developed by such board of education. Such reports of injury were optional under the prior law. While not specified in the Public Act, boards of education should also be cognizant of the requirement for all mandated reporters to report to the Department of Children and Families when they have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that abuse or neglect has occurred.

Public Act 12-88 also amends the SDE's obligations relative to the collection of information from boards of education concerning the use of physical restraint and seclusion. Specifically, the SDE is now required to review the annual compilation of incidents of restraint and seclusion of each board of education and to report this information annually to the Connecticut General Assembly. Such collection of information was optional under the prior law.

While the amendments implemented by Public Act 12-88 do not significantly change the documentation requirements for boards of education, the changes do indicate an intention by the General Assembly to monitor more closely the use of physical restraint and seclusion within the public schools. Physical restraint may be used with students only in an emergency situation to prevent imminent or immediate injury to the student or another person, and seclusion may be used only in emergency or as part of a student's individualized education program. As required by the existing law, boards of education should ensure that all relevant staff are trained on the use of appropriate physical restraint and seclusion procedures, all required documentation is being completed, and parents are being promptly notified of all instances of physical restraint or seclusion.

The full text of Public Act 12-88 can be accessed here.

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