State Board of Education to be presented with second seclusion room rules proposal

A seclusion room in Pierce Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. (Josh Scheinblum/KCRG-TV9)
A seclusion room in Pierce Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. (Josh Scheinblum/KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Nov. 19, 2019 at 4:36 PM CST
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The State Board of Education is scheduled to decide Wednesday if it will consider changes concerning how schools handle secluding and restraining students.

Under current Iowa law, schools are allowed to restrain students or confine them in seclusion rooms during violent outbursts. However, a 2017 I9 investigation found many districts abusing seclusion rooms and very few regulations in place on the practice.

Wednesday's meeting will be the second time the State Board of Education has considered proposed changes to seclusion and restraint rules in schools. This past August the Board struck down proposed rules after superintendents complained they were not practical.

The first version of the proposal would have required schools to notify parents within 10 minutes of a child being restrained or put into seclusion. The new version gives schools until the end of the school day.

The new version also gets rid of a requirement for staff involved to write a report about a restraint or seclusion incident but it does require schools to document each incident.

Another big complaint that was made about the original proposal was its requirements that seclusion rooms be at least 70 square feet, much larger than many current rooms. The new rules would let smaller seclusion rooms stay, they would have to be at least 54 square feet.

Superintendents also complained the original proposal did not give them enough time to make changes. Now, districts would have five years to meet the new guidelines but they need to get their current seclusion rooms inspected by July 2021.

The Iowa Department of Education held six public input meetings across the state to form the new proposed rules.

At the meeting the board will either move forward with a public hearing or nix the new proposal.