Virginia schools are increasingly confronted with youth who exhibit challenging behavior.
And while schools sometimes use physical restraint and seclusion to de-escalate a crisis, the state does not have any explicit laws or regulations that govern their use.
That concerns the Commission on Youth, which is recommending legislation to require the Board of Education to formulate new rules and restrictions.
The members acknowledge that restraint or seclusion may be needed to protect the student or others from harm. But while the state has guidelines, they’re not enforced. Delegate Richard Bell said the schools lack overarching direction.
“Seclusion and restraint procedures can be very traumatic. And the younger the child, the more traumatic they’re going to be. They not only brand some children—they label them. And that’s the worst thing that can happen if this child changes schools or moves from one class to another, that label goes with him. And we’ve got to be real careful how we do this.”
The members agreed that the rules should reflect the diverse needs of primary and secondary schools and special ed.
The bill would still need the approval of the General Assembly, which convenes in January.