February 22, 2018

Disability Law Center (DLC) finds the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) data on school restraints extremely disturbing. In schools, restraints may only be utilized as a matter of last resort to prevent imminent, serious physical harm after less intrusive behavioral interventions have failed (or are deemed inappropriate under the circumstances). 603 C.M.R. § 46.03(1)(c). School staff must also review each restraint and patterns of restraints in order to develop appropriate, less intrusive interventions. See 603 C.M.R. § 46.06(4)-(6). Based on the self-reported school restraint data, it is evident that schools in the Commonwealth are engaging in frequent patterns of restraint with students. While DLC understands some student populations, due to their disabilities, are prone to repeated self-injurious and/or aggressive behaviors, this does not negate the schools’ responsibility to only use restraint as a matter of last resort and does not minimize its obligation to work diligently to find less intrusive and less dangerous interventions.

Moreover, DLC is particularly troubled by the high number of restraints on students in public schools (both traditional schools and charter schools) that do not traditionally serve students with extreme behavioral disability manifestations. DLC is committed to reviewing this data thoroughly and utilizing it to inform decisions about where to spend abuse and neglect monitoring and investigation efforts. DLC encourages parents whose children are experiencing frequent school restraints or sustain injuries from restraints to call our office at 617-723-8455.

Chris Griffin
Executive Director

Disability Law Center Disturbed by School Restraint Data

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