Today, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released data with regard to each State’s policies, laws and regulations with regard to seclusion and restraint in schools. This data follows from a letter written in July 2009, in which Secretary Duncan urged all States to develop policies and guidelines on these topics in order to reduce the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint with students.
It was quickly discovered that there is no statewide policy with regard to seclusion and restraint in Indiana. In response, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) developed guidelines for schools to incorporate into their discipline rules and policies.
Many of the guidelines are wonderful, but some of the others could use work, according to the DOE’s report. For example, while the IDOE specifies the type of training and how frequently personnel ought to be trained, there are no guidelines with regard to the duration of the training or with regard to who is qualified to administer the training. So, even though a teacher might be “trained” according the IDOE, there is no way to regulate how much training she received or who did the teaching.
The DOE also found a lack of policy with regard to ensuring schools properly publicize. The IDOE recommends that schools include a seclusion and restraint section in their written discipline policies, but no specific guidance is provided to ensure that these policies are publicized so that teachers, administrators and parents can fully understand and consent to their use.
Lastly, the DOE noted that the IDOE has no procedures to track how frequently these measures are used in schools, and subsequently there is no way to publicly report such statistics. This lack of tracking also means that there is no way for the IDOE to monitor whether schools are adhering to their guidelines. The DOE also noted that the IDOE does not provide a mechanism to report any potential abuses of seclusion or restraint policies. This is of concern, as surely parents would be interested to know if their school district uses such practices more frequently than other schools, or if there have been complaints of improper seclusion or restraint.
For more data with regard to other states, please see the report.