Massachusetts School Restraint Law & Regulations

Massachusetts Restraint Law Part I, Title XII, Ch. 76, Section 37G; and Regulations 603 CMR 46.01-07

Section 37G: Corporal punishment of pupils prohibited; use of physical restraint; regulations

    • The provisions of this section shall not preclude any member of the school committee or any teacher or any employee or agent of the school committee from using such reasonable force as is necessary to protect pupils, other persons, and themselves from an assault by a pupil. When such an assault has occurred, the principal shall file a detailed report of such with the school committee.
    • The board of education shall promulgate regulations regarding the use of physical restraint for students. Such regulations shall not preclude any teacher or employee or agent of the school from using reasonable force to protect pupils, other persons and themselves from an assault by a pupil as set forth above in section (b). Such regulations shall require training of all personnel authorized to administer any forms of restraint. Such regulations shall provide for procedures for notification to the department and to the parents.

Regulations 603 CMR 46.01-07

Scope. 603 CMR 46.00 governs the use of physical restraint on students in publicly funded elementary and secondary education programs

    • Purpose. The purpose of 603 CMR 46.00 is to ensure that every student participating in a Massachusetts public education program is free from the unreasonable use of physical restraint. Physical restraint shall be used only in emergency situations, after other less intrusive alternatives have failed or been deemed inappropriate, and with extreme caution. School personnel shall use physical restraint with two goals in mind:
      • To administer a physical restraint only when needed to protect a student and/or a member of the school community from imminent, serious, physical harm; and
      • To prevent or minimize any harm to the student as a result of the use of physical restraint.
    • Nothing in 603 CMR 46.00 precludes any teacher, employee or agent of a public education program from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons or themselves from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm

603 CMR 46.02: Definitions

    • Extended restraint: A physical restraint the duration of which is more than twenty (20) minutes. Extended restraints increase the risk of injury and, therefore, require additional written documentation.
    • Physical restraint: The use of bodily force to limit a student’s freedom of movement.

603 CMR 46.03: Porcedures and Training

    • Procedures. Public education programs shall develop written procedures regarding appropriate responses to student behavior that may require immediate intervention.¬† Such procedures shall include, but not be limited to:
      • Methods for preventing student violence, self-injurious behavior, and suicide, including de-escalation of potentially dangerous behavior occurring among groups of students or with an individual student;
      • A school policy regarding restraint that provides a description and explanation of the school’s or program’s method of physical restraint, a description of the school’s or program’s training requirements, reporting requirements and follow-up procedures, and a procedure for receiving and investigating complaints regarding restraint practices.
    • Training. Required training for all staff. Each principal or director shall determine a time and method to provide all program staff with training regarding the school’s restraint policy.

603 CMR 46.04. Determining when physical restraint may be used.

    • Use of restraint. Physical restraint may be used only in the following circumstances:
      • Non-physical interventions would not be effective; and
      • The student’s behavior poses a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm to self and/or others.
    • Limitations on use of restraint. Physical restraint in a public education program shall be limited to the use of such reasonable force as is necessary to protect a student or another member of the school community from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm.
    • Prohibitions. Physical restraint is prohibited in the following circumstances:
      • As a means of punishment; or
      • As a response to property destruction, disruption of school order, a student’s refusal to comply with a school rule or staff directive, or verbal threats that do not constitute a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm

603 CMR 46.05. Proper administration of physical restraint.

    • Trained personnel. Only school personnel who have received training¬† shall administer physical restraint on students. Whenever possible, the administration of a restraint shall be witnessed by at least one adult who does not participate in the restraint. The training requirements shall not preclude a teacher, employee or agent of a public education program from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons or themselves from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm.
    • Use of force. A person administering a physical restraint shall use only the amount of force necessary to protect the student or others from physical injury or harm.
    • Safest method. A person administering physical restraint shall use the safest method available and appropriate to the situation subject to the safety requirements set forth in 603 CMR 46.05(5). Floor or prone restraints shall be prohibited unless the staff member administering the restraint has received in-depth training according to the requirements of 603 CMR 46.03(3) and, in the judgment of the trained staff member, such method is required to provide safety for the student or others present.

Safety requirements. Additional requirements for the use of physical restraint:

    • No restraint shall be administered in such a way that the student is prevented from breathing or speaking.