This guest post comes to us from Leslie Lederer, a Disability Rights Advocate with the Kentucky Protection & Advocacy and Co-President of KY-TASH.
Like most other states, Kentucky did not have any laws regulating restraint and seclusion in the public schools. There were many incidences of the misuse and abuse of these dangerous interventions. Parents often did not know they were happening and if they did they had no recourse to prevent them from happening. For over 3 years, the Kentucky Protection & Advocacy (P&A) worked with the State Department of Education to draft a regulation that provided protections for children. Along with the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities, P&A released a booklet detailing stories of children who had been hurt by these practices and alternatives to their use in order to educate the public, educators and legislators. Public hearings were held where parents of children who had been hurt by these practices testified, as well as other groups, including KY-TASH.
There was a great deal of resistance to the regulation from some school administrators and even some outside groups who tried to fan the fears. The Department of Education answered the many, and sometimes, ridiculous questions educators had on their web site and people saw that these regulations were necessary. The Kentucky school board passed the regulation unanimously and at the end of 2012 it passed out of the legislative subcommittee. The regulation went into effect February 1, 2013.
The regulation is quite extensive, but these are the highlights. The regulation prohibits the use of prone and supine restraints; prohibits the use of restraint and seclusion for punishment, coercion, etc.; mandates that restraint and seclusion may only be used when a child presents a risk of physical injury to him/herself, a staff, or other student; REQUIRES PARENTAL NOTIFICATION for every instance of restraint and seclusion; prohibits the use of restraint and seclusion for property damage short or criminal mischief (which requires intent); provides for documentation of instances of restraint and seclusion to be kept in the child’s file; provides for a debriefing session if requested by parents; and requires a Functional Behavioral Assessment following all instances of restraint or seclusion.