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State education board moves forward with proposed changes to seclusion rooms

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 8:57 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa State Board of Education moved forward with proposed changes to seclusion rooms that put more restrictions on when and how schools can shut students into closet-like rooms or use restraints.

The changes occurred after a two-part I9 investigation. They found the state lacked oversight concerning their use, raised questions if some school districts are violating federal law, forces educators to notify parents before the end of a school day of their child being placed in a seclusion room, modify room sizes, and give schools more time to be in compliance with these new rules.

The new rules will also allow schools to only put a student in a seclusion room for bodily injury rather than a serious injury. The state board of education has attempted to pass these rules multiple times, but it failed after objections to a possible requirement that educators contact parents within ten minutes.

The proposal also allows a student to be placed in a seclusion room to prevent serious damage to property of significant monetary value or significant nonmonetary value, when the student’s actions seriously disrupt the learning environment, or to ensure the safety of the student and others and less restrictive alternatives would not be effective.

The changes, which were not officially approved, will now move forward to a public comment period later in the year. It’s the third attempt at changing the state’s seclusion room policy. The last time changes were attempted, the department was unable to present the final proposed rules to the state board within a set time period because of the pandemic and had to restart the process.

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