The Department has posted non-regulatory guidance to help schools and other covered educational programs understand the requirements and limitations contained in Rule Chapter 33: Rule Governing Physical Restraint and Seclusion. The guidance document, which is available online, provides information about the rule, describes student behavior scenarios and analyzes potential responses to those scenarios, and provides links to additional resources including tools for managing student behavior.
A small group of stakeholders is developing a supporting document providing more resources and describing best practices in student behavior management. The group expects to complete this document within the next few months and sharing it in the Commissioner’s Update at that time, as well as on DOE’s website.
Notice, trainings and complaint process
As the school year begins, the Department reminds school leaders that the rule requires annual notice to parents regarding the rule and local policies relating to restraint and seclusion. In particular, Chapter 33 requires each covered entity to inform parents of the local complaint process and to investigate complaints. That local process must be followed before complaints are addressed by the Department.
Schools must also provide training to staff on the requirements of the rule and local policies. The non-regulatory notice described above may be used for this training. In addition, a 90-minute webinar explaining the rule, provided as a tool for schools by Maine DOE, can be used. The webinar is not yet updated to include changes made in the rule this year, so the webinar’s accompanying document explaining the updates should be read in concert with watching the webinar.
Covered entities are required to report the use of restraints and seclusion during school year 2012-13 to the Maine DOE. The Department set July 15 as the deadline for submitting that report. The report is to be submitted through SurveyMonkey.
While many school administrative units (SAUs) and other covered entities have filed the required information, many others have not. The data request asks for six numbers: the number of uses of restraint and the number of students restrained during the school year; the number of uses of seclusion and the number of students secluded during the school year; and the number of serious bodily injuries to students and to staff arising from restraint or seclusion during the school year.
A list of SAUs that have not provided information is available. If you have questions about the data requirement, or you prefer to send the information directly to the DOE rather than using the SurveyMonkey, please email email@example.com.
The Department has received requests for this information and will be releasing it within the next few weeks. In order to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we will not release the number of students subject to restraint or seclusion if the number of students in an SAU is fewer than 10. This limit is consistent with our minimum n-size for purposes of reporting under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We will, however, release the aggregate number of restraints and seclusions for each SAU and covered entity.
Report to Legislature regarding impact of rule changes
The Resolve that authorized changes to the Chapter 33 in April also requires the Department to submit a report in January 2014, describing the effect of the changes to the rule. Those changes included allowing restraint or seclusion when there is a risk of injury or harm, regardless of whether the risk is imminent; revising the definition of physical escort; exempting brief interventions necessary to break up a fight from the rule; and requiring the Department to ensure annually that teachers and administrators are given consistent and accurate information regarding the requirements of the rule.
The Department will be seeking feedback on this issue from stakeholders later this year in order to prepare the report to the Legislature.