• Jessica Lenhart

Restraint & Seclusion: Federal Data Highlights Continued Impact on Students with Disabilities

Updated: Apr 16

In June of 2019, we published an article that reviewed basic facts about restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities in New Jersey. That article responded to questions from parents and teachers who asked our team about whether restraint was ever “legal” under New Jersey law. As we explained, in some circumstances, set forth in the law, New Jersey does permit restraint of students. The law requires specific documentation and response to all incidents. In addition to the New Jersey law, it is important to be aware of the strong guidance from the federal government about the use of restraint and seclusion for students. Federal law and policy guidance makes abundantly clear that improper use of restraint and seclusion violates civil rights laws that protect students.

This update offers a very broad overview of some of the guidance on restraint and seclusion that the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and United States Department of Education (USDOE), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) has issued since January 2019.

In January of 2019, the OCR launched ramped-up efforts at curbing the use of restraint and seclusion through (it said) increased compliance monitoring, data collection and technical assistance to school districts: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-initiative-address-inappropriate-use-restraint-and-seclusion-protect-children-disabilities-ensure-compliance-federal-laws

On January 9, 2020, OCR published a webinar on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZ9Yx0LC8TI&feature=youtu.be. The free, on-line webinar sets forth the k