Restraint and Seclusion in School

Florida Statute 1003.573 addresses widespread concern about the use of seclusion and restraint on students with disabilities in public school. The law went into effect on July 1, 2010.

The law establishes standards and procedures regarding the use, monitoring, documentation, and reporting of seclusion and restraint on students with disabilities.

The law establishes three important rights:

  • notification and copies of incident reports.
  • protection against mechanical restraint that restricts a student’s breathing.
  • protection against manual or physical restraint that restricts a student's breathing.

On July 1, 2011 the law was revised to improve monitoring, documentation and reporting. The law also now requires districts to develop plans for the prevention and reduction of restraint and seclusion use and produce those plans to the Department of Education no later than January 31, 2012.

What Can I Do?

Parents and guardians are entitled to notification so that they can learn about what is happening in school and take appropriate action.

The notification must be in writing and provided before the end of the school day on which the restraint or seclusion occurs. Reasonable efforts must also be taken to notify the parent or guardian by telephone or computer e-mail or both. These efforts must be documented. The school shall obtain and keep in its records, the parent's or guardian's signed acknowledgment that he or she was notified of his or her child's restraint or seclusion.

Schools must write incident reports and send them to parents and guardians, principals, district special education directors and the state special education bureau chief. 

The question often comes up - what can a parent do to help reduce restraint and seclusion use, prevent abusive restraint and seclusion use, and to respond to it when it occurs?

The TASH website is an excellent resource about how to write a No Consent Letter, how to monitor your child's program and some basic guidance about reporting abuse. Read each section of this Disability Topic to learn more about how to advocate for your child.