Application and Definitions.
The requirements described below related to student isolation and restraint apply to students who are participating in school-sponsored instruction or activities:
School districts are statutorily authorized to contract with public and private entities for educational and specialized services. This includes the authority to contract with nonpublic agencies, which are agencies approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for operating special programs for students with disabilities. Rules adopted by the OSPI specify that the contract between a school district and a nonpublic agency must include assurance that the nonpublic agency comply with OSPI rules related to compliance with isolation and restraint laws.
Restraint or isolation of a student is permitted only when reasonably necessary to control spontaneous behavior that poses an imminent likelihood of serious harm. "Imminent" is defined to mean the state or condition of being likely to occur at any moment or near at hand, rather than distant or remote. "Likelihood of serious harm" is defined to mean a substantial risk that:
Policies and Plans.
Each school district must adopt a policy providing for the least amount of restraint or isolation appropriate to protect the safety of students and staff. Parents and guardians of students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or plans developed under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (section 504 plans) must be provided a copy of the school district policy at the time that the IEP or section 504 plan is created.
An IEP or section 504 plan may not include the use of restraint or isolation as a planned behavior intervention unless a student's individual needs require more specific advanced educational planning, and the student's parent or guardian agrees. All other plans may refer to the school district policy.
Rules adopted by the OSPI define a behavioral intervention plan as a plan incorporated into a student's IEP if determined necessary by the IEP team for the student to receive a free appropriate public education. At a minimum, the behavioral intervention plan must include four elements, including: the pattern of behavior that impedes the student's learning; the positive behavioral interventions and supports to reduce the pattern of behaviors; and the skills that will be taught and monitored as alternatives to the challenging behaviors.
Following the release of a student from restraint or isolation, the school must implement follow-up procedures. These procedures include reviewing the incident with the student and the parent or guardian and reviewing the incident with the staff who administered the restraint or isolation.
School employees, school resource officers, and school safety and security staff who use isolation or restraint on a student during school-sponsored instruction or activities must inform the building administrator or designee as soon as possible and submit a written report of the incident to the school district office within two business days.
The principal or designee must: (1) make a reasonable effort to verbally inform the student's parent or guardian within twenty-four hours of the incident; and (2) send written notification as soon as practical but postmarked no later than five business days after the restraint or isolation occurred.
Annually by January 1, each school district must submit a summary of the incident reports to the OSPI. For each school, the school district must include the number of individual incidents of restraint and isolation, the number of students involved in the incidents, the number of injuries to students and staff, and the types of restraint or isolation used.
No later than 90 days after receipt, the OSPI must publish to its website the data received by the school districts. The OSPI may use this data to investigate the training, practices, and other efforts of schools and districts to reduce the use of restraint and isolation.
Work Group Report.
Legislation enacted in 2022 directed the OSPI to convene a work group to identify trauma informed strategies, approaches, and curricula for supporting students in distress and with challenging behaviors that prioritize relational safety. The work group's 2022 report includes four categories of recommendations: (1) eliminate isolation and chemical restraint from schools; (2) improve access to proactive and effective mental health supports and trauma-informed behavior supports; (3) increase educator training of de-escalation practices; and (4) improve data collection and reporting.
In brief summary, provisions related to student isolation and restraint are modified; additional entities are required to comply with the provisions; definitions are added and changed; incident follow-up requirements are modified; training requirements are added; and technical assistance and other forms of monitoring and support are established.
The stated purposes of provisions related student isolation and restraint, incident follow-up requirements, and training requirements are to: protect students from physically harmful and emotionally traumatic practices of chemical restraint, mechanical restraint, and isolation; prohibit use of physical restraint imposed solely for purposes of student discipline or staff convenience; improve the safety and well-being of all staff and students by increasing the professional development and technical assistance provided to staff; and enhance the public accountability of school districts and other providers of public educational services.
Application to School Districts, Other Providers of Public Educational Services, and Their Staff During Provision of Educational Services to Students.
Provisions related to student isolation and restraint are made applicable to all providers of public educational services (rather than only school districts). "Providers of public educational services" means any entity that directly operates, or provides educational services under contract to, an elementary or secondary school program that receives public funds from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). In addition to school districts, the term includes: public schools (including charter schools and state-tribal education compact schools), Educational Service Districts, institutional education providers, the State School for the Blind, the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth, public agencies and private entities providing educational services under contract with any other provider of public educational services, and any providers of services in accordance with Part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Provisions related to student isolation and restraint are made applicable to all staff, meaning employees and contractors, of providers of public educational services (rather than only school employees, resource officers, and school security officers). The term "staff" does not include licensed or certified health professionals of inpatient health care facilities.
The provisions related to student isolation and restraint apply during the provision of educational services (rather than while a student is participating in school-sponsored instruction or activities). "Educational services" means instruction and other activities delivered or sponsored by a school district or other provider of public educational services, for example: general education services; special education services; medical services; safety and security services; transportation services; and any developmental, corrective, or other supportive services necessary for a student eligible for special education services to benefit from special education services.
Prohibited and Permitted Isolation and Restraint of Students.
Additional limitations, including prohibitions, are placed on the use of isolation and restraint of students.
Definitions. The definition of "isolation" is modified to mean the involuntary isolation or confinement of a student, by staff, in an isolation room from which the student is not free to leave. Isolation does not include a time away, which is a student-selected behavior management technique that provides a student with an opportunity for self-calming, where the student is separated from others for a limited period, in a setting that is staff-monitored and from which the student may leave at any time. An "isolation room" means a room or other enclosed area, whether within or outside a classroom, used to isolate a student.
The definition of "restraint" is modified to mean chemical restraint, mechanical restraint, and physical restraint. Those terms are defined as follows:
Permitted Physical Restraint. The circumstances under which physical restraint is permitted are modified, for example, by specifying that less restrictive interventions would be ineffective under the circumstances and by narrowing the conditions under which physical restraint may be used.
The staff of any school district or other provider of public educational services is permitted to use physical restraint during the provision of educational services only when:
The definition of "likelihood of serious harm" is narrowed to mean a substantial risk that: (1) harm will be inflicted by a person upon his or her own person, as evidenced by threats or attempts to commit suicide, or inflict harm on oneself; or (2) harm will be inflicted by a person upon another, as evidenced by behavior that places another person or persons in reasonable fear of sustaining such harm. "Imminent" continues to mean the state or condition of being likely to occur at any moment or near at hand, rather than distant or remote.
Permitted Isolation. The circumstances under which isolation is permitted are modified as described above for use of physical restraint and also by setting a deadline after which isolation is prohibited.
Until August 1, 2025, the staff of any school district or other provider of public educational services is permitted to use isolation during the provision of educational services only when:
Isolation rooms must always remain unlocked to the occupants, unless a school district or other provider of public educational services has a temporary waiver, approved by the OSPI, that permits students in grades 6 through 12 to be isolated in a locked isolation room.
During the period of the temporary waiver, which must expire no later than August 1, 2025, a school district must provide professional development to staff and conduct other activities necessary to comply with the requirement to keep isolation rooms unlocked by the end of the waiver period. The OSPI must provide technical assistance to school districts and other providers of public educational services to support compliance as soon as possible, but no later than the approved waiver periods.
By August 1, 2025, school districts and other providers of public educational services must remove or repurpose all isolation rooms. Prior to this date, school districts and other providers of public educational services are prohibited from constructing isolation rooms or other settings for the purpose of isolating a student.
Provisions related to locking isolation rooms, constructing isolation rooms, and removing or repurposing isolation rooms do not apply to a state-operated psychiatric hospital that serves students.
Prohibited Isolation and Restraint. The staff of any school district or other provider of public educational services may not subject any student to the following types of prohibited isolation or restraint during the provision of educational services:
Neither a student nor the student's parent or legal guardian may consent, or be asked to consent, to the use of isolation or restraint that is prohibited.
School resource officers are not prohibited from carrying out the lawful duties of a commissioned law enforcement officer.
Requirements related to making certain notifications after incidents of isolation and restraint are modified and expanded, for example by making the provisions applicable to staff who directed use of isolation or restraint and by requiring the principal or other building administrator to notify the OSPI and others of incidents of prohibited isolation and restraint.
Immediately following the release of the student from isolation or restraint, the staff who used, or directed the use of, isolation or restraint must notify the principal, other building administrator, or designee of the provider of public educational services about the incident.
The principal, other building administrator, or designee of the provider of public educational services must notify the student's parent or legal guardian about the incident within 24 hours of the incident, and must send written documentation to the parent or legal guardian, within three business days of the incident.
With regard to use of prohibited isolation or restraint, the principal, other building administrator, or designee of the provider of public educational services must notify the following people or entities about the incident: (1) the school district superintendent or other chief administrator of the provider of public educational services, within one business day of the incident; (2) the OSPI, within three business days of the incident; and (3) if the school district or other provider of public educational services is a contractor, the contractee, within three business days of the incident.
Requirements related to review of incidents of isolation and restraint are modified and expanded, for example by requiring that students be given an opportunity to reflect, process, and recover.
As soon as practicable, but no later than one week following submission of the written incident report as described below, the principal, other building administrator, or designee of the provider of public educational services must review the incident with the student and the student's parent or legal guardian to discuss relevant events that occurred before, during, and after the incident, and to inform the student's parent or legal guardian about behavioral intervention planning that must be completed as described below.
As soon as practicable following the release of a student from isolation or restraint, staff must provide the student with an opportunity to meet with a counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker to reflect, process, and recover.
Also, as soon as practicable following the release of a student from isolation or restraint, a team of staff, including the staff who used, or directed the use of, isolation or restraint, must review the incident to, among other things: (1) provide the staff who used, or directed the use of, isolation or restraint with an opportunity to reflect, process, and recover; (2) determine whether proper procedures were followed; and (3) identify additional training, coaching, or assistance that may support staff who used, or directed the use of, isolation or restraint to use less restrictive interventions in similar situations in the future.
Behavioral Intervention Plan.
A functional behavioral assessment is defined to mean the process or evaluation used by staff to understand the cause or purpose of a student's specific behavior or behaviors of concern in a specific environment. A behavioral intervention plan is defined to mean an individualized plan developed for a student and implemented by staff for the purpose of changing, replacing, modifying, or eliminating a student's behavior or behaviors of concern. Use of behavioral intervention plans is not limited to students with an IEP.
As soon as practicable following the release of a student from isolation or restraint, staff must: (1) complete a functional behavioral assessment, unless a functional behavioral assessment was previously completed for the behavior of concern; and (2) develop a behavioral intervention plan or, if a behavioral intervention plan has already been developed, review the behavioral intervention plan and modify it as necessary to address the student's behavior of concern.
Requirements related to reports of incidents of isolation and restraint are modified and expanded, for example by requiring reports of incidents of room clears, and specifying that summaries of the incident reports must be disaggregated for the purpose of trend analysis. A "room clear" is defined to mean the procedure used by staff in an emergency to direct all students, except for any students causing the emergency, to leave a room.
Within two business days of the incident, staff who used, or directed the use of, isolation, restraint, or a room clear must prepare and submit a written report of the incident to the school district superintendent or other chief administrator of the provider of public educational services. The following written report elements are added: the duration and location of the incident; names and job titles of staff who directed the use of isolation or restraint, of staff who used or directed the use of, a room clear, and of staff who observed the incident; a description of any less restrictive interventions attempted; information about any known psychological trauma experienced by the student or staff due to the incident; whether staff requested or used leave benefits; and other information as required by rule of the OSPI.
The school district superintendent or other chief administrator of a provider of public educational services must prepare a summary of the written incident reports, at least annually and as required by the school district board of directors or other governing body of a provider of public educational services. The summary must be disaggregated for purposes of trend analyses according to specified categories, for example by student race and ethnicity, student gender, school or other applicable unit, staff job title, contractor, and incident type.
At least annually, the OSPI must require school districts and other providers of public educational services to submit incident report data and summaries. The OSPI continues to be required to publish the incident report data and summaries on its website within 90 days of receipt. The data must be published in a manner that allows trend analyses, including analysis of intersecting marginalized identities.
Policies and Procedures.
Each governing body of a provider of public educational services (rather than only school districts) must adopt a student isolation and restraint policy and procedures. The procedures must include a process for convening a team of staff to review every incident of isolation or restraint using a systems improvement approach that focuses on supporting staff to use less restrictive interventions as alternatives to isolation and restraint.
During the 2024-25 school year, and periodically thereafter, each school district board of directors and other governing body of a provider of public educational services must review and revise, as necessary, its student isolation and restraint policy and procedures with input from staff, students, students' families, advocacy organizations, and other appropriate members of the community.
Professional Development Plans.
By January 30, 2024, the school district superintendent or other chief administrator of a provider of public educational services, or the school district board of directors or other governing body of a provider of public educational services, must prepare and submit to the OSPI a staff professional development plan and timeline. The plan must be updated annually.
The plan must include professional development on the following topics: the student isolation and restraint policy and procedures; evidence-based, trauma-informed, student-centered, proactive crisis prevention and intervention practices that are less restrictive than isolation and restraint, such as de-escalation strategies; evidence-based, trauma-informed behavioral health supports for students and staff that include restorative practices; and evidence-based, systemic approaches to eliminating use of prohibited isolation and restraint, to reduce the use of physical restraint, and to eliminate disparities in use of prohibited or permitted isolation and restraint, such as multitiered systems of support and universal design for learning.
Professional development must be prioritized to staff in the following order: first to staff providing educational services to students with disabilities in prekindergarten through grade 5; second to staff providing educational services to students with disabilities in grades 6 through 12; and third to all other staff.
The plan and any updates must describe the professional development that will be provided to staff during the following school year. Any professional development programs and resources provided to staff must be chosen from the list developed by the OSPI. Professional development includes trainings provided by the school district or other provider of public educational services, pursuit of credentials through formal education programs, working with a mentor or coach, and involvement in professional learning communities. Staff are not required to be provided identical or equivalent professional development. Rather, professional development content, intensity, duration, and frequency must be appropriate to each staff type, staff experience, and staff assignment, and must be informed by the incident reviews.
The plan must also describe the mechanism used to determine whether an entity under contract to provide educational services to students is training the contractor's staff.
Within three months of receipt, the OSPI must review each professional development plan and update submitted by a school district or other provider of public educational services.
Duties of Governing Bodies.
Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, and every four years thereafter, each member of the school district board of directors or other governing body of a provider of public educational services must complete training on student isolation and restraint that includes the following content, at a minimum: the legal prohibitions and limitations for use of isolation and restraint on students; the social-emotional and physical impacts to students and staff resulting from the use of isolation and restraint rather than trauma-informed interventions; how to assess compliance with student isolation and restraint requirements; and options for supporting system improvement by reprioritizing resources.
On an annual basis, the school district board of directors or other governing body of a provider of public educational services must monitor the impact of the policy and procedures by, at a minimum, performing trend analyses using the summary of incident reports and reviewing the professional development plan and updates.
The OSPI must provide technical assistance to school districts and other providers of public educational services, including, at a minimum:
Prior to implementing the technical assistance, and periodically thereafter, the OSPI must collaborate with statewide associations representing school administrators, classified staff, and certificated staff to conduct focus groups for the purpose of better understanding staff challenges related to implementation of student isolation and restraint provisions.
Plans of Improvement.
When a school district or other provider of public educational services is not making sufficient progress towards the goals established in its professional development plan or when disparities in use of isolation or restraint are identified in its incident report data, the OSPI must place the school district or other provider of public educational services on a plan of improvement. Under a plan of improvement, the OSPI must provide targeted technical assistance, including annual site visits, until the school district or other provider of public educational services meets its professional development plan goals, or eliminates disparities in use of isolation or restraint, or both.
Subject to appropriation, the OSPI must award competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, and state-tribal education compact schools for the purposes of meeting student isolation and restraint requirements, for example to: (1) remove door locks from isolation rooms, demolish isolation rooms, or repurpose isolation rooms; (2) hire staff to support eliminating the use of prohibited isolation and restraint and reducing the use of physical restraint; and (3) contract for provision of professional development to staff.
Duties of the Professional Educator Standards Board and the Paraeducator Board.
By December 1, 2023, the Professional Educator Standards Board and the Paraeducator Board must jointly submit to the Legislature a plan for integrating into educator preparation programs and paraeducator certificate requirements instruction on provisions related to isolation and restraint of students.
Report to the Legislature.
Annually by November 1, the OSPI must report to the Legislature with a summary of its activities to monitor and support the compliance of school districts and other providers of public educational services with student isolation and restraint requirements. The report must describe the progress that school districts and other providers of public educational services have made towards training staff. The report must also highlight exemplar school districts and other providers of public educational services using best practices to eliminate use of isolation and restraint.
The substitute bill replaces all the language in the original bill and made numerous policy changes. For example, as compared to the original bill, the substitute bill:
(In support) Every student deserves to feel and be safe, and be given every opportunity to thrive in schools. Every educator is trying to make that happen. However, not all children's needs are being met. Schools still practice isolation by placing a child in a locked room alone. Children are being zip-tied. These practices are harmful. We have learned how to support children in their toughest moments. This bill provides an opportunity for everyone to work together for the benefit of students, so that they receive help when and where they need it, and so that staff receive the supports they need to help the students.
Restraint and isolation have no therapeutic or educational benefit. Isolation forces a student into solitary confinement against their will. Forced isolation is dangerous to students and is counterproductive to supporting student well-being. Use of these practices has lifelong consequences for many students, such as anxiety, depression, and mistrust of relationships. The impact of this trauma has far-reaching impacts on students and families and can lead to families being torn apart. Use of restraint and isolation make student behaviors worse, and the use increases the likelihood of more use. Most staff do not want to use these practices.
To eliminate restraint and isolation, professional development and technical assistance will be key. There are tools that teachers can use to provide emotional support to students, instead of relying on practices that harm and perpetuate dysregulation in classrooms. Too few staff are trained to use proven de-escalation techniques, and positive behavior interventions and supports.
People who are restrained struggle and this can result in injuries. If the state eliminates isolation and drastically reduces physical restraint, student and staff injuries will go down. To ensure inclusion in schools, the state must prohibit these practices.
Some students are restrained so the staff can obtain information from the student or to control the student's activities. Students are sent to isolation rooms for minor infractions and are left there for hours. There are times when restraint is appropriate, such as when the safety of students or staff are at risk. The bill needs to be clarified to ensure that students and staff are all protected.
Some students, especially those without language skills, have poor behaviors. Trained staff do not have to restrain or isolate students. Some students have been sent out of state to be educated elsewhere because the state failed to educate them. This costs the state up to $620,000 for one child per year. That money could be used in the state to provide training to staff so that they will know how to de-escalate students.
(Opposed) Some students engage in aggressive behavior on a regular basis. Physical restraint is more dangerous than isolation. Some escalations cannot be resolved by restraint, but can be by isolation. The bill will decrease safety in schools. It is highly likely that some students with aggressive behaviors will be placed in homebound services because they will be unable to be safely provided services in public or nonpublic agencies. Elimination of isolation has resulted in decreased access to a free appropriate public education for students. In other states, elimination of isolation has resulted in increased student and staff injuries. Subsequent lawsuits were filed, and the state eventually modified the law. More consideration should be given to adding training and support and increasing monitoring and reporting.
(Other) This bill could have a safety impact on teachers, administrators, and other staff. A significant percentage of students benefit from inclusionary practices. When safety is at stake, there are concerns about removing an option that is of last resort. Some students have a disability that can result in behavioral outbursts. Some students express frustration in violent ways that impact the safety of those around them. When some students are escalated, they are unaware of the impact it can have on others. Many alternatives are already being explored and implemented.
Chemical restraint and mechanical restraint should go away. If the language of the bill is not clear, then it could make things less safe in schools. There are concerns about the definitions in the bill and that certain interventions will not be allowed when a student is threatening self-harm, or that staff will not be able to provide medications for seizures. There should be timelines provided for the additional training.
Paraeducators and others were not consulted during the development of this bill. The state data on use of isolation and restraint is concerning; the state can do better. The bill needs to be finetuned to consider the impacts on classified staff and to prevent unintended outcomes. Classified staff should also be provided with training.