FRANKFORT, Ky. - For two-and-a-half years a northern Kentucky elementary school disciplined a young student named Will by keeping him isolated in a closet and restraining him when the boy wouldn’t sit still. Will’s parents say he suffered nightmares and severe anxiety as a result.
The story is one of several instances of student restraint and seclusion described in a new publication from Kentucky Protection & Advocacy and the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities.
“What I’ve seen in schools is that there is a culture that this is an acceptable intervention. And I think that it is seen as something that is okay to do and is acceptable. And I don’t know that there’s a lot of information out there about how dangerous some of these procedures can be,” says Lucy Heskins, staff attorney for P&A.
Director Marsha Hockensmith says P&A has received more than 100 complaints over the past five years of public schools immobilizing students or confining them to a closed room.
“There is no required reporting, you don’t have to notify parents if you’ve restrained or secluded the child at school, and really no regulation period with the use of that.”
Protection & Advocacy supports a new state regulation approved by the Department of Education that would prohibit physical restraint of students except in cases of imminent danger. Several teachers and school administrators, however, say the rule is vague and restricts the ability to keep other students, staff, and school property safe.
The proposal must still be approved by a regulation review committee before it takes effect next school year.