Madison School District considers update to restraint and seclusion policy

Scott Girard:

The Madison Metropolitan School District is considering an update to its policy on restraint and seclusion of students after a state law change earlier this year.

Staff presented the proposal to the School Board Monday. Board members had a few questions about training and definitions, but generally supported the changes. They are expected to vote on the policy later this month.

The notification changes require districts to report data to the board and the state Department of Public Instruction, schools to provide a written report to parents, and principals to meet with staff or law enforcement involved in an incident. The new state law also prohibits the use of prone restraints, or those that involve staff taking a child to the floor to restrain them, and using rooms with a lock on the door for seclusion.

Physical restraint, according to the district’s definition in its presentation Monday, “means a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to freely move their torso, arms, legs, or head.” A brief touch or hold of a student’s hand, arm, shoulder or back to comfort or redirect the student does not fit the definition.

Seclusion is “the involuntary confinement of a student, apart from other students, in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving,” according to the presentation.

MMSD’s policy update would also remove words like “reasonable” to describe some uses of physical restraint, and prohibit restraints that “obstruct the student’s circulation” like those that cause chest compression or place weight on the student’s neck or throat.

2005: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

1995-2006: Police Calls – Madison Schools.