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School District Presents New Policy for Restraining Students

Policy is modeled after a new state law on "seclusion and restraint"

When students are unruly to others or threats to themselves, how far can the School District go?

The Muskego-Norway School District has developed a new policy on what the law calls “seclusion and restraint.”

The policy had its first reading before the School Board this week. Those interested still have a chance to weigh in before the official vote, which will come at a future meeting.

Ted Gennerman, coordinator of pupil services, told the Board that the new policy on seclusion and restraint is modeled after a new Wisconsin law. The law, he said, was a “compromise between two groups.” Some advocates and parents wanted School Districts to be banned from using any seclusion or restraint on students. Others felt you “couldn’t guarantee the safety of students if you can’t use seclusion and restraint,” he said.

The new policy and law ensure that districts can only use seclusion or restraint in “very specific circumstances.” Only trained staff can implement the procedures and there is a rigorous process for informing parents.  There are also new reporting forms and timelines.

The district has already had two of its staff trained as trainers. Over 90 staff members have been trained in crisis prevention and intervention, according to Gennerman.

In the past, parents would sometimes be notified with just a phone call. Now the district will have to fill out forms and notify them in specific ways and under specific timelines.

Gennerman said the district took great care to match the new policy with the law, which just passed late last year.

In both cases of seclusion or physical restraint, the student’s behavior must now present a clear, present and imminent risk to the physical safety of the student or others and the seclusion or restraint must be the least restrictive intervention feasible.

Seclusion is defined in the law as the “involuntary confinement of a student, apart from other students, in a room or area from which the student is prevented from leaving.”

In the case of physical restraint, the law states that “the degree of force used and the duration of the physical restraint do not exceed the degree and duration that are reasonable and necessary to resolve the clear, present, and imminent risk to the physical safety of the student or others.”

In the policy and law, the district can not use restraint techniques that do not protect the student’s head, that involve chest compression, that involve pressure on the student’s neck, head or throat, or that otherwise obstruct the student’s breathing.

Corporal punishment – defined as intentional infliction of physical pain used as a means of discipline - is not allowed. That would forbid such things as slapping and physically painful positions. Mechanical or chemical restraint can not be used.

“We have to make sure we are being proactive,” Gennerman said. “We have to make sure we are being clear with parents. There are specific training requirements. Each school must have a staff member trained.”

Parents must be notified verbally within one day if seclusion and restraint is used on their child. A written report must be completed within two days and available to them within three. On an annual basis, the district must report the number of affected students to the School Board, breaking out the number of children with disabilities.

Although the law mentions them, Gennerman said the Muskego-Norway district has no seclusion rooms.

Upon a question from a Board member, he said the district had not tracked the number of students affected before. “There was a need to restrain students on occasion,” Superintendent Kelly Thompson told the board.

The state law followed a series of recommendations on seclusion and restraint from the state Department of Public Instruction in 2005. However, those were not binding.

JC July 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I remember the good old days when a teacher just took the kid in the hallway and banged them up against the locker a time or two. Seemed to do the job! Our society today wants everyone to "play nice", talk it out, treat everybody the same, etc. Sorry folks, it's not working. Respect of those in authority, parents, other kids and mostly themselves has been lost. There was a time when you hated being "put in the corner", plead with the teacher not to call your parents. Going to the Principals office was a big deal, and every kid feared what would happen when dad came home! Bring back a little fear and respect and the world would be a much better place.
Curt July 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM
All the political correctness makes me sick as well. Nothing gets a kid's attention like a smack on the face, even if it doesn't hurt. We're raising generations of wimps!
G. Whitehaus August 01, 2012 at 01:44 AM
According to a Fox 6 story last week Muskego Norway schools were criticized by the Department of Public Instruction for improper seclusion of students and was ordered to make changes. So dont say MNSD had not tracked the number of students affected. Apparently the DPI did.....

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