By Brian Dalla Mura
I encourage the HUUSD Board to vote on May 11 to add a review of the restraint and seclusion policy to a future agenda.
The HUUSD Board recently received a request to review the restraint and seclusion policy. The board will vote on May 11 to take this item up. Restraint and seclusion are meant to be a last resort and are unfortunately required from time to time. All districts should have strong policies that make sure all students and staff are kept safe by using the most up-to-date research-based practices. I encourage the board to vote yes on May 11 to take this item up.
- Does the district employ a school psychologist who consults with behavior support staff and special educators about restraint and seclusion? How are any possible contraindications such as, mental illness, history of physical and/or sexual abuse, intellectual disabilities, PTSD, or physical conditions identified?
- Does the district have a policy that requires educating parents about the risks associated with restraint and seclusion that are used on their children? Do the parents know what the seclusion rooms look like? Do the parents know what particular positions/holds are being used? Is there oversight to ensure transparency and that the district is making a good faith effort to educate parents?
- Has the district evaluated the safety of all restraint and seclusion techniques and identified any that pose higher risks, such as prone and supine restraints?
- Does the district have a process to review and analyze restraint and seclusion data each year to ensure that numbers are within an acceptable range and that student needs are being met?
- Does the district have a process for restoring therapeutic relationships between students and staff after the use of restraint and seclusion?
- Does the district policy include a debrief process after restraint and seclusion that is used to identify next steps and plan for similar situations in the future? Are parents encouraged to participate in the process? Are mental health staff such as school psychologists, social workers, counselors, or therapists included?
- Does the district policy include requirements for the implementation of individual crisis management plans outlining less restrictive de-escalation strategies for students who are repeatedly restrained and/or secluded?
- How much training does the district require for staff that implements restraint and seclusion? Is there ongoing training throughout the year? What is the process for employee feedback? Is there training to ensure that state guidelines are being followed?
- What is the process for parents or employees to raise concerns or complaints? Is there a commission to ensure that there is no abuse or human rights violations? Is the process easily accessible for parents?
- Is there a commission to oversee the policy to ensure that it is being implemented with fidelity?
Dalla Mura lives in Waterbury and is a former member of the Harwood Unified Union School District Board.