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On February 25, 2020, the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) issued a second amendment to its emergency rules for physical restraint and time out. The amended rules are effective immediately and remain in effect until April 18, 2020, or until ISBE adopts its permanent rules, which is expected in spring 2020.

The second amendment to the emergency rules maintains the changes included in the first amendment to the emergency rules, but reinstates the use of isolated timeout in specific and limited circumstances. This revision mirrors the revised, proposed permanent rules (see pp. 67-153), approved by the ISBE Board on February 18, 2020 and submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (“JCAR”) on February 19, 2020.

The significant differences between the second amendment to the emergency rules and the first amendment to the emergency rules are as follows:

Isolated Time Out 

  • The second amendment to the emergency rules permits the use of isolated time out in limited circumstances. Isolated time out is defined as “the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a time out room or other enclosure outside the classroom without a supervising adult in the time out room or enclosure.”
    • An isolated time out may only be used when “the adult in the time out room or enclosure is in imminent danger of serious physical harm because the student is unable to cease actively engaging in extreme physical aggression.”
    • A supervising adult must remain within two feet of the enclosure.
    • A supervising staff member must always be able to see, hear, and communicate with the student.
    • As part of their reporting requirement to parents and the State Superintendent, schools must provide a “description of the rationale for why the needs of the student could not have been met by a less restrictive intervention and why an adult could not be present in the time out room.”
  • Under the second amendment to the emergency rules, during an isolated time out or time out, the student must have reasonable access to food, water, medication, and toileting facilities, and, except in circumstances in which there is a risk of self-injury or injury to staff or others, the student’s clothing should not be removed.

Time Out 

  • For time outs that do not meet the imminent danger standard for student isolation, the second amendment to the emergency rules now explicitly requires a supervising adult to remain in the same room as the student at all times during a time out.

With the flurry of rules, amendments, proposals, and potential legislation on school districts’ implementation of these interventions, the school community is anxiously awaiting ISBE’s permanent rules on time outs and physical restraints. However, at this time, school districts should immediately implement the February 25 second amendment to the emergency rules.

Please contact any of our student/special education practice group attorneys with your questions regarding the implementation of ISBE’s second, amended emergency rules on time out and restraint.