ISBE Adopts Updated Permanent Rules and Releases Guidance on the Use of Isolated Time Out, Time Out, and Physical Restraint

As we previously reported, on August 13, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 219 into law as Public Act 102-0339, which amended the Illinois School Code regarding the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint interventions in public schools, special education cooperatives, and special education non-public facilities. While the legislation codified several provisions of ISBE’s permanent rules promulgated in April 2020, it also added new requirements, including establishment of goals for schools to reduce and eliminate the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint within three years; oversight at the State level to ensure school-based compliance; additional complaint procedures; documentation and notification requirements; and limited continued use of prone restraint. The changes took effect immediately.

As a result of P.A. 102-0339, ISBE again updated its rules on isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint. The new ISBE permanent rules went into effect April 11, 2022. The new permanent rules limit prone restraint to be used only in special education nonpublic facilities under Section 14-7.02 of the School Code when a student’s behavior plan (“BIP”), drafted prior to January 1, 2021, specifically allowed for the use of prone restraint, and only after other de-escalation techniques in the BIP were documented to be ineffective. Per the ISBE rules, prone restraint can only be used through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. See 23 Ill. Admin. Code 1.285(d)(4). The new permanent rules also incorporate various parent/guardian notice and meeting requirements. See 23 Ill. Admin. Code 1.285(g).

In May 2022, ISBE issued an updated Guidance and FAQ document concerning the ISBE new permanent regulations for the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint. The updated Guidance/FAQ reflects the new ISBE permanent rules concerning, among other things, the use of prone restraint through the 2021-2022 school year, the necessary documentation and parent/guardian notification requirements, and the required Physical Restraint, Time Out, and Isolated Time Out Reduction Plan (“RTO Reduction Plan”).

One of the most significant changes under P.A. 102-0339 required ISBE to establish goals, with specific benchmarks, to systemically reduce the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint interventions in schools within three years. The goals and benchmarks are posted on ISBE’s webpage. See our article here. In addition, school boards must create an oversight team to develop and implement an RTO Reduction Plan for reducing and eventually eliminating the use of these interventions in accordance with the goals and benchmarks established by ISBE. The RTO Reduction Plan is due to ISBE by July 1, 2022. A sample plan is available on ISBE’s webpage along with directions and a checklist. The Guidance/FAQ also provides further direction on the plan.

Finally, we developed model forms for supporting school districts and schools as they comply with the new requirements of Public Act 102-0339 and the ISBE permanent rules. Contact an attorney in our Students/Special Education practice group to request the model forms and with any questions.