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Florida: Seclusion outlawed/restraint limited in schools

Florida school districts will soon be prohibited from using seclusion and isolation techniques on students — a traumatizing experience particularly for students with disabilities. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law this week to ban the techniques, starting July 1. The measure prohibits school personnel from using seclusion, defined by the legislation as “involuntary confinement of a student in a room or area alone and preventing the student from leaving the room or area.” The bill defines when school personnel can use restraints, such as zip ties, handcuffs and straitjackets on a student, stating that: “Restraint may be used only when there is an imminent risk of serious injury and shall be discontinued as soon as the threat posed by the dangerous behavior has dissipated.” The legislative language specifies that restraints can only be used when all other intervention methods have been exhausted. The restraints may not restrict blood flow or breathing, and cannot be used to inflict pain to induce compliance.... The 2021 legislative analysis found 21,489 reported instances of seclusion used on students from the 2020-11 to 2019-20 school years. In addition, 86,969 reported instances of restraints were used on students in that same time period. The legislation calls on schools to develop crisis intervention plans for students who are restrained more than once a semester. The crisis intervention plan would be developed by a team that includes the student’s parent or guardian, school personnel, and physical and behavioral health professionals. The law launches a pilot program that allows parents to request that a camera be placed in their student’s classroom.


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