School Climate & Safety

Ga. Board Weighs New Restraint, Seclusion Rules

By The Associated Press — May 18, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Georgia board of education is considering banning solitary confinement in schools and limiting the use of restraint tactics to calm misbehaving students, which would mark the first time the state has addressed the controversial practices.

If the policy is approved, it would move Georgia off a federal list of nearly 20 states that do not regulate seclusion and restraint in schools. And for the first time, it would require schools to notify parents when their children are restrained by teachers and other school officials.

For Don King, whose 13-year-old son, Jonathan, hanged himself in 2004 in a seclusion room where he had been locked up for hours a day at his Gainesville special education school, the proposed policy would be a relief.

“I don’t want nobody to experience what we’ve been going through,” said Mr. King, a Georgia Power worker who has been pushing for the state to ban seclusion. “It’s terrible. We miss him every day.”

The state began the process of drafting a policy on the tactics two years ago, holding meetings and public forums to get input on the best way to give teachers the ability to control unruly or violent students without causing injury.

Parents of special education students in schools for the state’s most emotionally disturbed children raised concerns. State officials visited the schools to get a firsthand look at the seclusion rooms.

“ ‘Frightening’ is a good description,” said Garry McGiboney, an associate superintendent at the state education department.

The rooms were often tiny and dark, with no windows where teachers could check on a student without opening the door, he said.

After those visits, seclusion was banned at the 24 Georgia Network for Education and Therapeutic Support schools. The new policy would prohibit it at all schools. It also would limit the use of restraint and ask schools to collect data on the practice.

And it also would require any teacher who uses restraint tactics—such as holding down a student’s arms—to get training on how to prevent injuries.

Seclusion and restraint have been blamed for injuries in both students and teachers in the state, as well as for Jonathan King’s death. State officials have no idea how often the tactics are used because schools have not been required to keep track, something that will change if the new policy is adopted.

The policy was being considered by the board last week, but it could be another month before it’s on the books because state officials have to hold public hearings on it.

Federal Action

Soon, the practices could be banned in every state as federal lawmakers consider the first-ever legislation that would prohibit restraint and seclusion in most circumstances and require training for educators on behavior management.

Nationally, at least 20 deaths since 1990 have been attributed to restricted-breathing tactics used as school discipline, according to a federal report released last year. One mother told investigators that her 4-year-old daughter, who had autism and was born with cerebral palsy, came home with bruises on her chest, calves, and wrists after she was strapped to a chair for throwing tantrums, according to the report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 2010 edition of Education Week as Georgia Board Weighs New Rules on Restraint, Seclusion in Schools

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Responding to Student Threats: Schools Wrestle With How to Prevent Violence
The Buffalo shooting suspect made a threat at school last year, but wasn't flagged under the state's red flag law.
10 min read
A rifle hangs on display in the window of the West Endicott & Susquehanna Arms Co., Monday, May 16, 2022, where the Buffalo shooting suspect purchased fire arms in Endicott, N.Y.
A rifle hangs on display in the window of an Endicott, N.Y., gun shop where the Buffalo shooting suspect purchased firearms.
Michael Hill/AP
School Climate & Safety Grief, Anger, Fear: How Teachers Can Help Students Cope With the Buffalo Shooting
After a gunman killed 10 people in a racist attack, teachers again wrestled with how to explain hate and mass violence to students.
A person pays his respects outside the scene of a shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, May 15, 2022.
A mourner pays his respects outside the scene of a racially-motivated mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Rourke/AP
School Climate & Safety Accused Gunman in Buffalo Shooting Was Investigated for Threat to His School
The gunman was never charged with a crime and had no further contact with law enforcement after his release from a hospital, officials said.
3 min read
Police walk outside the Tops grocery store on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at the supermarket, killing and wounding people in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.” (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
School Climate & Safety Fla. School Board Reverses Decision to Censor Yearbook Photos From ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Protest
The Seminole County School Board scrapped the plan in response to public backlash.
Skyler Swisher, Orlando Sentinel
2 min read
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida House Republicans advanced a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP