Why do disability and education policy debates focus on safety, fear and seclusion? How is it possible that the words “torture” and “school” are brought together in the practice of educating students with disabilities? Where are the paths or guidelines to help support inclusive and safe practices in schools? Where are the resources and supports necessary to train and support our teachers and students? Inclusion is not a destination, it is a journey. More often than it should, this journey may leave children vulnerable to abuse. Because of these reasons, we are happy to see the US government taking proactive steps to provide policy and practical guidelines in education practice and specifically discouraging restraints and seclusion. After you read the guidelines (see link below), you should explore and consider the following question:
How do these policies encourage or fall short for young people with disabilities?
U.S. Department of Education Issues Resource Document that Discourages Restraint and Seclusion
Today, the U.S. Department of Education issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion.
The goal of this resource document is to help ensure that schools are safe and healthy environments where all students can learn, develop and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement.
“As education leaders, our first responsibility must be to make sure that schools foster learning in a safe environment for all of our children and teachers,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “I believe this document is an important step toward this goal. I also want to salute leaders in Congress for their vigilance on this issue.”
The 15 principles that frame the document ultimately highlight how schoolwide behavioral interventions can significantly reduce or eliminate the use of restraint or seclusion. These guiding principles offer states, districts and other education leaders a framework for developing appropriate policies related to restraint and seclusion to ensure the safety of adults and children.
“Ultimately, the standard for educators should be the same standard that parents use for their own children,” Duncan added. “There is a difference between a brief time out in the corner of a classroom to help a child calm down and locking a child in an isolated room for hours. This really comes down to common sense.”
The document also provides a synopsis of ongoing efforts by federal agencies to address national concerns about using restraint and seclusion in schools, and includes links to state restraint and seclusion policies and procedures.
To access this document, click here: http://www.ed.gov/policy/restraintseclusion