The Department has adopted a revised rule governing restraint and seclusion of students (Rule Chapter 33). The changes to the rule take effect April 29, 2013.
The revised rule continues to limit the use of physical restraint or seclusion to emergency situations when a risk of injury or harm is present. However, the language changes the threshold for use of those interventions from the presence of an “imminent risk of injury or harm” to presence of “a risk of injury or harm.” This will allow staff to intervene in a situation without having to determine when an injury or harm might occur.
Under the rule, “physical escort” is not considered to be “physical restraint.” The revised rule changes the definition of “physical escort” to remove the requirement that the student’s movement under escort be voluntary, and by removing the limit on exactly which part of a student’s body may be touched or held to complete the escort. Under the new definition, physical escort is “the temporary touching or holding [of a student] for the purpose of inducing a student to move to another location, including assisting the student to the student’s feet in order to be escorted.”
A third change to the rule excludes “a brief period of physical contact necessary to break up a fight” from the definition of “physical restraint.”
Changes to the rule were made in accordance with the requirements of legislative Resolve 2013, Chapter 8. In addition to requiring changes in the rule, the Resolve requires the Department to prepare non-regulatory guidance to the field regarding requirements of the rule, and to report in January of 2014 on the effect of the changes made in the rule.
The revised rule can be found at www.maine.gov/doe/rule/changes/. Additional information and resources on restraint and seclusion can be found on the Department’s website at www.maine.gov/doe/school-safety/restraints/index.html.