Olympia, WA – Governor Jay Inslee signed SHB 1240 regulating restraints and seclusion of students with disabilities into law. The critical components include:
- Effective this July:
The legislature finds that there is no educational or therapeutic benefit to children from physically restraining or isolating them as part of their public school programs when not necessary for immediate safety. The use of seclusion or restraints in nonemergency situations poses significant physical and psychological danger to students and school staff. The legislature declares that it is the policy of the state of Washington to prohibit the planned use of aversive interventions, to promote positive interventions when a student with disabilities is determined to need specially designed instruction to address behavior, and to prohibit schools from physically restraining or isolating any student except when the student’s behavior poses an imminent likelihood of serious harm to that student or another person.Significant changes with the enactment of SHB 1240:
• prohibit schools from physically restraining or isolating any student except when the student’s behavior poses an imminent likelihood of serious harm to that student or another person;
• prohibit the planned use of restraint and isolation as interventions in the individual education plans for students with disabilities except where individual needs of students require more specific advance planning and the student’s parent or guardian agrees;
• promote the use of positive interventions when a student with disabilities is determined to need specially designed instruction to address behavior;
• clarify definitions of “restraint” and “isolation”;
• require that any restraint or isolation of a student be closely monitored to prevent harm to the student and discontinued as soon as the likelihood of serious harm has dissipated;
• require each district to adopt a policy providing for the least amount of restraint or isolation appropriate to protect the safety of students and staff under such circumstances;
• add to the review procedures following each incident of restraint or isolation to include consideration of any additional training or supports staff may need to prevent similar incidents from occurring;
• require that districts provide notice to parents of the use of isolation of restraint of any child (no longer limited to those who have an Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 plan);
• implement data collection and reporting procedures that would allow districts and OSPI access to the data necessary to inform practice around the use of restraint and isolation in schools.
HB 1240 was drafted by WAAA board member Katherine George and tenaciously supported through the legislative process by WAAA constituents and parent advocates throughout Washington State. WAAA will be following the rule making to ensure the spirit and letter of this law is captured.
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