Overview of Laws governing Restraint and Seclusion
Handle With Care has been providing training for school staff on how to manage student populations from pre-k12 since 1985. There is generally a divide in schools between special education and general education with respect to behavior management and crisis intervention. The use of restraint in both general and special education are governed by 4 main bodies of law: Self Defense Laws: Federal, Constitutional and State laws protecting the right to defend self and others.  Ingram v. Wright (SCOTUS). The State does not have the right to limit a person’s right to defend themselves or another in any manner that is reasonable.  Bowers v. DeVit. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that the right to self-defense does not terminate when a teacher or student enters the schoolhouse gates. See also, Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969) Tort/Common Law: Courts have held that schools act in the place of parents (in loco parentis).  As such, schools have a duty to maintain a safe environment conducive to education.  Along with this doctrine comes a duty to train staff to handle foreseeable circumstances. It is foreseeable that children will lose their tempers and may engage in inappropriate behavior like fighting and throwing objects.  There is a duty to train staff how to manage these foreseeable situations in a way that maintains a safe environment conducive to education. Treatment and Behavioral Plans (IEPs/BPs).  This is the duty to provide professional judgment in developing educational and treatment plans.  The Supreme Court has held that the professional duty rests exclusively with the professionals working directly with the [students]. Youngberg v. Romeo. 457 U.S. 307 (1982). In addition to the above, special education students have the additional Federal laws that must be complied with: Americans with Disability Act (ADA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Rehabilitation Act Section 504 (504). The laws specific to special needs students protect their right not to be discriminated against because of their disability, and the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) which includes IEPs.
NY. School hit with $11 million ruling for failure to protect student from attacks
A rural school district in Upstate New York has been hit with an $11.4 million judgment for failing to protect a high school student who was beaten by three schoolmates minutes after she asked an assistant principal for protection. The Genesee County jury found the administrator had acted with reckless disregard for the student's safety. The judgment in Shelby v. LeRoy Central School District an example of tort litigation losses nationally by school districts. Crystal Shelby, suffered brain injuries from a May 1995 beating by three girls in the hallway of Le Roy High School, located about 25 miles from Rochester, N.Y. "The lessons here for school districts are: 'Don't disregard a student who asks for help,' and 'You have to be effective in your discipline,' '' said plaintiff's counsel Terry D. Smith of Smith, Keller, Miner & O'Shea of Buffalo, N.Y. Translation. It is not enough to have some discipline policy in place. The policy has to be effective in maintaining a safe environment conducive to learning. "The girls who assaulted Crystal were three hard cases who had been disciplined and suspended time and again.'' According to attorneys on both sides, the night before the assault Shelby had an argument with the three girls, who explicitly threatened to attack her the following day in school. The following morning Shelby told assistant principal Neil O'Brien that she had been threatened but he took no action and told the girl to proceed to her homeroom. During the liability phase of the bifurcated trial the jury found O'Brien had acted with reckless disregard for Shelby's safety. The three girls attacked Shelby in the hallway, beating her head with a padlock and slamming her headfirst into a wall. She suffers hydrocephalus, a condition known in lay terms as water on the brain and characterized by dangerous pooling of fluid in the cranium. She has endured seven hospital stays and six brain surgeries to treat the condition, according to Brian Mahoney, who represented Shelby along with Smith. Shelby has two shunts in her cranium to drain fluid. She suffers persistent cognitive difficulties.
Indiana. IPS introduces new policy allowing limited force by teachers to break up fights
This policy is being implemented in response to a recent incident where a female student was attacked, thrown against lockers. Students had to break up the fight because teachers were prohibited from intervening due to school policy. In light of this incident, the IPS has reconsidered the advisability of this policy stating, “We need a policy to ensure that we can create administrative guidelines and procedures around how staff is involved in terms of use of force," IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said. The new policy would allow use of limited force by staff members to prevent a student from injuring themselves or others, interfering with a school activity or education, or damaging property.