Thursday, December 29, 2016

Follow-up: Seclusion enclosures

At our last work session, the board agreed that the administration should form a committee to determine best practices and consider potentially improving or eliminating the district’s use of seclusion enclosures. The committee will include parents, teachers, and interested community members. It will report back to the board within a month or two.

I think that was the best result we could have expected from the discussion at the work session on the topic. Speaking as just one board member, I don’t see the board as having delegated the decisionmaking on this issue to the committee. An administrative committee can be a great help in researching the issue and in doing the drafting of a potential policy, but it’s also true that, since committee members are appointed by the administration, a committee is not necessarily representative of the larger community. The board should review committee recommendations with an open mind but should not simply rubber-stamp them.

Meanwhile, a local lawyer has brought a complaint against the district at the State Department of Education, alleging that the district’s use of seclusion enclosures violates federal laws and regulations. You can read the complaint here.

When I posted about this topic in October, several commenters asked for a list of district schools that have seclusion enclosures. The complaint contains such a list as its Exhibit 1 on pages 7 and 8 of the PDF.

One more update: Yesterday, the federal government issued new, non-binding “significant guidance” on the use of restraint and seclusion in school, which I assume will be part of what informs the district’s discussion of “best practices.”


Mary M said...


Interesting complaint.

The district could and should change its terminology with regard to how it uses "time out" without waiting for a committee to make a recommendation. The district also doesn't need to wait for a committee to follow the federal special education law. The phrase "time out" when used in place of "seclusion" is misleading at best and if "time out" is present in IEPs, it should be given its common meaning, which is not "seclusion."

From the Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities
"2.What is seclusion?
In general, OCR uses the following definition for seclusion.15
Seclusion refers to the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. It does not include a timeout, which is a behavior management technique that is part of an approved program, involves the monitored separation of the student in a non-locked setting, and is implemented for the purpose of calming."

Anonymous said...

What enclosures have been built since Murley came? Why does City High have enclosures and West High does not? Will Liberty High have enclosures?

Anonymous said...

Chris, can you tell us more about the committee--Attorney Mary Richardson should be on it.