Montana School Restraint Law and Regulation

Law: MCA 20-4-302. Discipline and punishment of pupils — definition of corporal punishment — penalty — defense.

    • A person who is employed or engaged by a school district may use physical restraint, defined as the placing of hands on a pupil in a manner that is reasonable and necessary to:
      • (i) quell a disturbance;
      • (ii) Provide self-protection;
      • (iii) Protect the pupil or others from physical injury;
      • (iv) Obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object on the person of the pupil or within control of the pupil;
      • (v) Maintain the orderly conduct of a pupil including but not limited to relocating a pupil in a waiting line, classroom, lunchroom, principal’s office, or other on-campus facility; or
      • (vi) Protect property from serious harm.
    • Physical pain resulting from the use of physical restraint as defined in subsection (4)(a) does not constitute corporal punishment as long as the restraint is reasonable and necessary….
    • If a person who is employed or engaged by a school district uses corporal punishment or more physical restraint than is reasonable or necessary, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction of the misdemeanor by a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be fined not less than $25 or more than $500.
    • A person named as a defendant in an action brought under this section may assert as an affirmative defense that the use of physical restraint was reasonable or necessary. If that defense is denied by the person bringing the charge, the issue of whether the restraint used was reasonable or necessary must be determined by the trier of fact.

REGULATION: 10.16.3346. Special education. Aversive treatment procedures.

    • Positive behavioral interventions based on the results of a functional behavioral assessment shall serve as the foundation for any program utilizing aversive procedures to address the behavioral needs of students. Aversive treatment procedures may be appropriate for an individual student who exhibits behaviors which pose a risk of physical harm to the student or others, or a risk of significant damage to property, or significantly disruptive or dangerous behaviors which cannot be modified solely through the use of positive behavioral interventions. Aversive treatment procedures must be designed to address the behavioral needs of an individual student, be approved by the IEP team, and may not be used as punishment, for the convenience of staff, or as a substitute for positive behavioral interventions.
    • Aversive treatment procedures are defined as:
      • Physical restraint, other than as provided in 20-4-302, MCA, when the IEP team has determined that the frequency, intensity or duration of the restraint warrants an aversive treatment procedure; and
      • Isolation time-out which results in the removal of a student to an isolation room under the following conditions:
        • The student is alone in the isolation room during the period of isolation;
        • The student is prevented from exiting the isolation room during the period of isolation;
        • The door to the isolation room remains closed during the period of isolation; and
        • The student is prohibited from participating in activities occurring outside the isolation room and from interacting with other students during the period of isolation.
    • The following procedures are prohibited:
      • Any procedure solely intended to cause physical pain;
      • Isolation in a locked room or mechanical restraint, except in residential treatment facilities and psychiatric hospitals as defined in 20-7-436, MCA, when prescribed by a physician as part of a treatment plan and when implemented in compliance with relevant federal and state law;
      • The withholding of a meal for a period of greater than one hour from its scheduled starting time;
      • Aversive mists, noxious odors, and unpleasant tastes applied by spray or other means to cause an aversive physical sensation; and
      • Mechanical restraint that physically restricts a student’s movement through the use upon the student of any mechanical or restrictive device which is not intended for medical reasons.

Disclaimer. Nothing in this post is intended to create an attorney client relationship.  Nothing written or spoken constitutes legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice. There may be additional laws, rules, policies applicable to the use of restraint and force in your state. The above is an overview of information compiled from individual sources that are maintained and
updated with varying frequencies. While we attempt to keep the information current, readers should read the source information directly,  go to the source to check for updates or conduct further research.  For information and/or legal advice, consult with your attorney or States Attorney General.