Sioux Falls, SD: School board move officially bans isolation rooms for bad behavior

May 14, 2018, Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader: Sioux Falls schools ban physical restraint, locking students in rooms alone … Sioux Falls public school leaders say the so-called “timeout” rooms are long gone. A rule change approved unanimously Monday by the Sioux Falls School Board explicitly outlaws their use. Boice said the decision is a step in the right direction for students. "They need positive structure and positive modeling of behaviors," Boice said. "Shoving them in a padded room isn’t teaching them to properly behave.” Policy revisions approved by the school board mirror the language of a state lawpassed earlier this year that requires districts to adopt rules banning educators from physically restraining students or locking them in a room alone. Since Sioux Falls schools do not use padded rooms, the change is simply an effort to update the language in accordance with state law, district officials said. “That’s not something we do,” Superintendent Brian Maher said. “I know we don’t have padded rooms in the district and we certainly don’t intend to have padded rooms.” The law requires all South Dakota school districts to adopt a set of policies designed to limit such practices. Schools across the state must update their rules by July to: Require that parents be notified anytime a student is physically restrained or put in seclusion Bar educators from using “prone restraint,” or using physical force to keep the student face-down on the floor, except when necessary. Bar educators from locking students in a room alone unless there is “clear and present danger.”... The program does use what educators call a reflection room, but students only go there by choice and are always supervised. The door is never locked, Muilenberg-Wilson said. Meanwhile, the district has introduced new programs designed to support and provide direct instruction to children who are acting out. It added counseling staff to provide mental health support to district’s youngest students, expanding its Tier 2 program to seven elementary schools. Educators who work closely with struggling students are trained to de-escalate situations and teach children how to address their emotions, Muilenberg-Wilson said. “We have worked hard in programs where children have a higher likelihood of having these kinds of issues,” she said.