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On November 20, HLERK reported on ISBE-issued emergency rules relative to the use of time out and physical restraints in schools across Illinois. Click HERE for our prior article. Today, in response to widespread feedback from the school community, including concerns from private therapeutic schools serving public school students, ISBE published amendments to its emergency rules permitting, under very limited circumstances, supine or prone restraints. Given the import of this matter to the school community, we wanted to apprise you of these changes immediately.

The amendments remove the blanket prohibition against the use of prone and supine physical restraints. With the amendments to the emergency rules, schools may use prone or supine restraints in limited circumstances when all other less restrictive interventions have been exhausted. The amendments do not impact the emergency rules on timeouts.

Specifically, the rules mandate that prone or supine restraint may only be used in situations where a student is in “imminent danger of causing serious physical harm to himself, herself, or others,” and less restrictive and intrusive interventions have been tried and proven ineffective in stopping the imminent danger.

The rules require the presence of a staff member trained to monitor the student’s safety during a prone or supine restraint who is not involved in the physical holding of the student. Additionally, the restraint must be discontinued as soon as the threat of imminent danger has passed, but may not exceed 30 minutes in duration, or twice during the same day, without authorization from a school administrator, in consultation with a psychologist, social worker, nurse, or behavior specialist.

Finally, if prone or supine restraints are used with a student more than two times in a 30-school-day time period, the school is required to review the effectiveness of the behavioral interventions and restraints. The review must include the following:

  • Conducting or reviewing a Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • Reviewing behavioral data
  • Reviewing positive behavioral interventions and supports and actions to reduce restrictive interventions
  • Modifying the student IEP or BIP, if applicable
  • Reviewing any known medical or psychological limitations that contraindicate the use of the restrictive intervention

Please note that the emergency regulations, just as their predecessor regulations, apply to time out or physical restraint for both special and general education students.

As we previously reported, these rules are still emergency rules and can only remain in effect for 150 days. In the interim, ISBE will draft permanent rules designed to address time out and restraints under the normal process, allowing the school community and others to provide ISBE with comments.

We will continue to update you with the status of the rules. Please keep your eye out for the next issue of our monthly newsletter The Extra Mile Please contact any of our student/special education attorneys with your questions.