Iowa - Restraint and Seclusion: Prohibitions or Restrictions

Area: 
Prohibitions Or Restrictions
Policy Type: 
Regulation
Summary: 

State law requires districts to adopt policies limiting use of restraint and seclusion that include comprehensive student protections, including the provision of mandatory training for school personnel.

Iowa Administrative Code, Education Department, Title XVII Protection of children, Chapter 103 Corporal punishment ban; restraint; physical confinement and detention, 281 103.8(256B, 280) Additional provisions concerning physical restraint.

If an employee of a public school, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency employs physical restraint, the following provisions shall apply:

    1. No employee shall use any prone restraints. For the purposes of this rule, "prone restraints" means those in which an individual is held face down on the floor. Employees who find themselves involved in the use of a prone restraint as the result of responding to an emergency must take immediate steps to end the prone restraint;
    1. No employee shall use any restraint that obstructs the airway of any child;
    1. If an employee physically restrains a student who uses sign language or an augmentative mode of communication as the student's primary mode of communication, the student shall be permitted to have the student's hands free of restraint for brief periods, unless an employee determines that such freedom appears likely to result in harm to self or others;
    1. Nothing in this rule shall be construed as limiting or eliminating any immunity conferred by Iowa Code section 280.21 or any other provision of law;
    1. An agency covered by this chapter shall investigate any complaint or allegation that one or more of its employees violated one or more of the provisions of this chapter. If an agency covered by this chapter determines that one or more of its employees violated one or more of the provisions of this chapter, the agency shall take appropriate corrective action. If any allegation involves a specific student, the agency shall transmit to the parents of the student the results of its investigation, including, to the extent permitted by law, any required corrective action;
    1. If any alleged violation of this chapter is also an allegation of "abuse" as defined in rule 281-102.2(280), the procedures in 281--Chapter 102 shall be applicable.

Iowa Administrative Code, Education Department, Title XVII Protection of children, Chapter 103 Corporal punishment ban; restraint; physical confinement and detention, 281 103.6(256B, 280) Physical confinement and detention.

If a student is physically confined and detained in a portion of a school facility, the following conditions shall be observed. For the purposes of this chapter, "physical confinement and detention" means the confinement of a student in a time-out room or some other enclosure, whether within or outside the classroom, from which the student's egress is restricted.

    1. The area of confinement and detention shall be of reasonable dimensions, and shall be free from hazards and dangerous objects or instruments, considering the age, size, and physical and mental condition of the student subject to confinement and detention;
    1. There shall be sufficient light and adequate ventilation for human habitation;
    1. A comfortable temperature shall be maintained, consistent with the facility that includes the confinement and detention area;
    1. Reasonable break periods shall be afforded the student to attend to bodily needs. However, sleep shall not be considered a "bodily need" for purposes of this subrule;
    1. The period of detention and confinement is reasonable, considering the age, size, and physical and mental condition of the student subject to confinement and detention, and not in excess of the hours in a school day as defined by local board policy or rule; however, reasonable periods of before- and after-school detention are permissible. If a period of physical confinement and detention exceeds the shorter of 60 minutes or the school's typical class period, staff members shall evaluate the continued need for physical confinement and detention, shall obtain administrator (or designee) approval for any continued confinement and detention, and shall comply with any administrator (or designee) directives concerning any continued confinement and detention;
    1. Adequate and continuous adult supervision is provided;
    1. Material restraints applied to the person are not used to effect confinement;
    1. If a room or enclosure used for physical confinement and detention has a locking mechanism, such room and mechanism shall comply with all applicable building code requirements and the following additional requirements:
      • If a locking mechanism is used, it shall be constructed so it will engage only when a handle, knob, or other device is held in position by a person, unless the mechanism is electrically or electronically controlled and automatically releases when the building's fire alarm system is activated, the building's severe weather warning system is activated, or electrical power to the mechanism is interrupted.
      • When the locking mechanism is released, the door must be able to be readily opened from the inside.
      • If a locking mechanism requires a handle, knob, or other device to be held in position by a person before the mechanism is engaged, no person shall take any action, or cause such action to be taken, or employ any object, device, or instrument, or cause such to be employed, that disables the handle, knob, or other device such that the locking mechanism engages or remains engaged without the handle, knob, or other device being held in position by a person.

Iowa Administrative Code, Education Department, Title XVII Protection of children, Chapter 103 Corporal punishment ban; restraint; physical confinement and detention, 281 103.4(256B, 280) Exceptions and privileges.

Notwithstanding rule 103.2(256B,280), no employee subject to these rules is prohibited from:

    1. Using reasonable and necessary force, not designed or intended to cause pain, in order to accomplish any of the following:
      • To quell a disturbance or prevent an act that threatens physical harm to any person.
      • To obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object within a pupil's control.
      • For the purposes of self-defense or defense of others as provided for in Iowa Code section 704.3.
      • For the protection of property as provided for in Iowa Code section 704.4 or 704.5.
      • To remove a disruptive pupil from class or any area of school premises, or from school-sponsored activities off school premises.
      • To prevent a student from the self-infliction of harm.
      • To protect the safety of others.
    1. Using incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact to maintain order and control.
      An employee subject to these rules is not privileged to use unreasonable force to accomplish any of the purposes listed above.

Iowa Administrative Code, Education Department, Title XVII Protection of children, Chapter 103 Corporal punishment ban; restraint; physical confinement and detention, 281 103.1(256B, 280) Purpose.

In conjunction with Iowa Code section 280.21, the purpose of this chapter is to define and exemplify generally the limitations placed on employees of public schools, accredited nonpublic schools, and area education agencies in applying physical contact or force to enrolled students, and to require that any such force or contact is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. These rules also provide requirements for administrators and staff of public schools, accredited nonpublic schools, and area education agencies regarding the use of physical restraints and physical confinement and detention. The applicability of this chapter to physical restraint or physical confinement and detention does not depend on the terminology employed by the organization to describe physical restraint or physical confinement and detention.


Iowa Administrative Code, Education Department, Title XVII Protection of children, Chapter 103 Corporal punishment ban; restraint; physical confinement and detention, 281 103.7(256B, 280) Additional minimum mandatory procedure.

If a public school, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency seeks to use physical restraint or physical confinement and detention, or both, it shall do so in compliance with the minimum requirements of this chapter. The board of a public school, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency may adopt policies and procedures regarding the use of physical restraint or physical confinement and detention, or both, that exceed the minimum requirements contained in this chapter. Additional minimum mandatory procedures are as follows:

    1. Physical restraint and physical confinement and detention shall not be used as discipline for minor infractions and may be used only after other disciplinary techniques have been attempted, if reasonable under the circumstances;
    1. All school employees, before using physical restraint or physical confinement and detention, shall receive adequate and periodic training, which shall be documented and which shall include training on these rules and the employer's policies and procedures; positive behavior interventions and supports; disciplinary alternatives to seclusion and restraint; crisis prevention, crisis intervention, and crisis de-escalation techniques; student and staff debriefing; and the safe and effective use of physical restraint and physical confinement and detention;
    1. Parents and students are notified at least annually of the provisions of this chapter and of any additional policies and procedures of the public school, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency on physical restraint and physical confinement and detention;
    1. Any physical restraint shall be reasonable and necessary in duration, in light of the provisions of this chapter;
    1. If a student is subjected to physical restraint or physical confinement and detention, the public school, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency shall maintain documentation for each such occurrence, which shall contain at least the following information:
      • The names of the student and the employees involved in the restraint, confinement, or detention, as well as the administrator who authorizes any additional periods of confinement or detention pursuant to numbered paragraph "5" of rule 103.6(256B,280);
      • The date, time, and duration of the occurrence;
      • The actions of the student before, during, and after the occurrence;
      • The actions of the employees involved in the occurrence before, during, and after the occurrence, including student and staff debriefing;
      • The alternatives to physical restraint or physical confinement and detention attempted before the occurrence;
      • A description of any injuries (whether to the student or others) and any property damage;
      • A description of future approaches to the student's behavior;
    1. The public school, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency shall attempt to notify a child’s parent or guardian on the same day the child is subjected to physical restraint or physical confinement and detention; and
    1. The student’s parent or guardian must be provided a written copy of the documentation required by numbered paragraph “5” of this rule, which shall be postmarked within three school days of the occurrence. The student’s parent or guardian may elect, in writing, to receive the communication required by this numbered paragraph via electronic mail or facsimile transmission.
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