The Massachusetts Department of Education recently released a proposed policy on restraining volatile children in emergency situations. Though restraint policies aren’t uncommon in schools with large numbers of special education students, this one is different: In a letter accompanying the proposal, Commissioner of Education David Driscoll takes great pains to emphasize that “incidents related to the use of restraint could occur in any setting with any student.” Below are the four types of restraints that could be used in schools if the policy becomes practice:
Mechanical Restraint: The use of tapes, padded ties, restrictive blankets, or other devices to restrict the movement of a student.
Physical Restraint: Physically holding a student in order to restrict the student’s freedom of movement.
Seclusion Restraint: Confinement of a student alone in a limited physical space as a means of limiting his/her freedom of movement. The use of “time out” shall be considered “seclusion restraint” only if the student is completely removed from his/her classroom and locked in a location within or outside the school without an adult present.
Chemical Restraint: Chemicals or drugs, including prescription medication, orally administered on an “as needed” basis to limit the physical freedom of the student. Chemical restraint does not include prescription medication that is regularly administered to the student for medical reasons rather than to restrain the student’s freedom of movement (e.g. Ritalin).