Vermont - Restraint and Seclusion: Prohibitions or Restrictions

Area: 
Prohibitions Or Restrictions
Policy Type: 
regulation; statute
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.

Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 1161a. Discipline

(a) Each public and each approved independent school shall adopt and implement a comprehensive plan for responding to student misbehavior. To the extent appropriate, the plan shall promote the positive development of youth. The plan shall include:

  • (1) The school's approach to classroom management and response to disruptive behavior, including the use of alternative educational settings.
  • (2) The manner in which the school will provide information and training to students in methods of conflict resolution, peer mediation, and anger management.
  • (3) Procedures for informing parents of the school's discipline policies, for notifying parents of student misconduct, and for working with parents to improve student behavior.
  • (4) The school's response to significant disruptions, such as threats or use of bombs or weapons.
  • (5) A description of how the school will ensure that all staff and contractors who routinely have unsupervised contact with students periodically receive training on the maintenance of a safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environment. The training shall be appropriate to the role of the staff member being trained and shall teach classroom and behavior management, enforcement of the school's discipline policies, and positive youth development models.
  • (6) A description of behaviors on and off school grounds that constitute misconduct, including harassment, bullying, and hazing, particularly those behaviors that may be grounds for expulsion. The plan shall include a description of misconduct as listed in subdivisions 11(a)(26)(A)-(C) and (32) of this title that, although serious, does not rise to the level of harassment or bullying as those terms are defined therein.
  • (7) Standard due process procedures for suspension and expulsion of a student.

(b) For the purpose of this chapter, corporal punishment means the intentional infliction of physical pain upon the body of a pupil as a disciplinary measure.

(c) No person employed by or agent of a public or approved independent school shall inflict or cause to be inflicted corporal punishment upon a student attending the school or the institution. However, this section does not prohibit a person from using reasonable and necessary force:

  • (1) to quell a disturbance;
  • (2) to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects upon the person of or within the control of a student;
  • (3) for the purpose of self defense; or
  • (4) for the protection of persons or property.

Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 1167. School resource officer; memorandum of understanding

(a) Neither the State Board nor the Agency shall regulate the use of restraint and seclusion on school property by a school resource officer certified pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 2358.
(b) School boards and law enforcement agencies are encouraged to enter into memoranda of understanding relating to:

  • (1) the possession and use of weapons and devices by a school resource officer on school property; and
  • (2) the nature and scope of assistance that a school resource officer will provide to the school system.

Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-036. USE OF RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS (4500)

Section 4500.1 Statement of Purpose
The purposes of these rules are to:
a. Create and maintain a positive and safe learning environment in schools;
b. Promote positive behavioral interventions and supports in schools; and
c. Ensure that students are not subjected to inappropriate use of restraint or seclusion.

Section 4500.2 Applicability.
These rules are applicable to all learning environments that receive public funding, or over which the Vermont Department of Education has regulatory authority

Section 4500.3 Definitions.
For purposes of these rules, the following definitions apply:
1. Behavioral Intervention Plan means a plan that details strategies to address behaviors that impede learning, or are ongoing, and do not readily respond to general intervention or classroom management techniques, by teaching pro-social skills and other positive replacement behaviors. The plan may include positive strategies, program or curricular modifications, and supplementary aids and supports required to address problem behaviors.

2. Chemical Restraint means a drug, medication or chemical used on a student to control behavior or restrict movement that is not:

  • a. Prescribed by a student's licensed physician for the standard treatment of a student's medical or psychiatric condition; and
  • b. Administered as prescribed by the licensed physician.

3. Functional Behavioral Assessment means the analysis of a student's behavior patterns before, during, and after rule-breaking or other inappropriate behavior for the purpose of guiding the development of a behavioral intervention plan.

4. Mechanical Restraint means the use of any device or object that restricts a student's movement or limits a student's sensory or motor functions unless under the direction of a healthcare professional for medical or therapeutic purposes.
The term does not include devices implemented by trained school personnel, or utilized by a student for the specific and approved therapeutic and safety purposes for which such devices were designed including:

  • a. Restraints for medical immobilization,
  • b. Adaptive devices or mechanical supports used to achieve proper body position, balance or alignment;
  • c. Vehicle safety restraints including a seat belt or harness used for balance or safety on a car or bus; or
  • d. Seat belts in wheelchairs or on toilets.

5. Parent means:

  • a. A biological or adoptive parent of the child;
  • b. A legal guardian of the child;
  • c. A person acting in place of a biological or adoptive parent, including a grandparent, stepparent or other relative with whom the child lives, or a person legally responsible for the child's welfare;
  • d. A foster parent or developmental home provider who has been appointed the educational surrogate parent by the Educational surrogate Parent Program; or
  • e. An educational surrogate parent.

6. Physical Escort means the temporary touching or holding, without the use of force, of the hand, wrist, arm, or back of a student who is exhibiting minimal resistance for the purpose of directing movement from one place to another.

  1. Physical Restraint means the use of physical force to prevent an imminent and substantial risk of bodily harm to the student or others. Physical restraint does not include:

    • a. Momentary periods of physical restriction by direct person-to-person contact, accomplished with limited force and designed either
    • i. to prevent a student from completing an act that would result in potential physical harm to himself/herself or another person; or
    • ii. to remove a disruptive student who is unwilling to leave the area voluntarily;
    • b. The minimum contact necessary to physically escort a student from one place to another;
    • c. Hand-over-hand assistance with feeding or task completion; or
    • d. Techniques prescribed by a qualified medical professional for reason of safety or for therapeutic or medical treatment.
  2. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports means an approach to preventing and responding to targeted behavior that:

    • a. Is based on evidence-based practices;
    • b. Is proactive and instructional, rather than reactive;
    • c. Can operate on individual, group, classroom, or school wide levels;
    • d. Includes a system of continual data collection; and
    • e. Relies on data-driven decisions.
  3. Prone Physical Restraint means holding a student face down on his or her stomach using physical force for the purpose of controlling the student's movement.

  4. School means a learning environment receiving public funds or over which the Vermont Department of Education has regulatory authority.

  5. School Personnel means individuals working in schools as defined in 4500.3(10) who are employed by the school or who perform services for the school on a contractual basis, and school resource officers, while acting in that capacity.

  6. Seclusion means the confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is prevented or reasonably believes he or she will be prevented from leaving. Seclusion does not include time-out where a student is not left alone and is under adult supervision.

  7. Substantial Risk means an imminent threat of bodily harm where there is an ability to enact such harm. Substantial risk shall exist only if all other less restrictive alternatives to defuse the situation have been exhausted or failed or the level of risk prohibits exhausting other means.

  8. Supine Physical Restraint means holding a student on his or her back using physical force for the purpose of controlling the student's movement.

  9. Student means a student enrolled in a school as defined in paragraph 10.
    Vermont Secretary of State


Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-036. USE OF RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS (4500)

Section 4501 Prohibitions.
4501.1 School personnel and contract service providers are prohibited from imposing on a student any of the following as defined in rule 4500.3:
a. Mechanical restraint,
b. Chemical restraint,
c. Any physical restraint, escort or seclusion that restricts or limits breathing or communication, causes pain or is imposed without maintaining direct visual contact.

4501.2 Physical restraint or seclusion shall not be used:
a. For convenience of staff;
b. As a substitute for an educational program;
c. As a form of discipline or punishment;
d. As a substitute for inadequate staffing or training;
e. In response to a student's use of profanity or other verbal or gestural display of disrespect; or
f. In response to a verbal threat unaccompanied by demonstrated means of or intent to carry out the threat.

4501.3 The restraints and seclusion prohibited by these Rules shall not be considered "reasonable and necessary force" as that term is used in 16 VSA §1161a(c).

4501.4 Schools may have policies and procedures for the use of physical restraint and seclusion in school-wide safety plans, provided such plans are consistent with these Rules.

Section 4502 Permissible Use of Restraint and Seclusion.
4502.1 Permissible Use of Physical Restraint
Physical restraint, not otherwise prohibited by these Rules, may be used only:
a. When a student's behavior poses an imminent and substantial risk of physical injury to the student or others;
b. Within the limits set forth in 16 VSA § 1161 a;
c. Less restrictive interventions have failed or would be ineffective in stopping such imminent danger of physical injury or property damage;
d. In accordance with a school-wide safety plan that is consistent with these rules; and
e. In a manner that is safe, proportionate to and sensitive to the student's:

  • i. Severity of behavior;
  • ii. Chronological and developmental age;
  • iii. Physical size;
  • iv. Gender;
  • v. Ability to communicate;
  • vi. Cognitive ability; and
  • vii. Known physical, medical, psychiatric condition, and personal history, including any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or trauma.

4502.1.1 Prone and supine physical restraints are more restrictive than other forms of physical restraint and may be used only when the student's size and severity of behavior require such a restraint because a less restrictive restraint has failed or would be ineffective to prevent harm to the student or others.

4502.2 Permissible Use of Seclusion
Seclusion, not otherwise prohibited by these rules, may be used only:
a. When a student's behavior poses an imminent and substantial risk of physical injury to the student or others;
b. When less restrictive interventions have failed or would be ineffective in stopping such imminent risk of physical injury;
c. As a temporary intervention;
d. When physical restraint is contraindicated;
e. When there is no known developmental, medical, psychological or other contraindication to its use;
f. When the student is visually monitored at all times by an adult; and
g. In a space large enough to permit safe movement that is adequately lit, heated, ventilated, free of sharp or otherwise dangerous objects; and in compliance with all fire and safety codes.

4502.3 In rare circumstances where the use of physical restraint or seclusion may be necessary due to a student's pattern of dangerous behavior that is not responsive to less restrictive interventions, physical restraint and/or seclusion may be included in an individual safety plan only if all of the following conditions apply:
a. School personnel have reviewed and agreed to the safety plan;
b. The use of physical restraint and seclusion complies with these Rules;
c. The student has a documented history showing a series of behaviors in the preceding six (6) months that have created an imminent and substantial risk of physical injury to the student or others in the school;
d. A comprehensive, data-driven, functional behavioral assessment has been conducted;
e. A behavioral intervention plan, emphasizing positive behavioral interventions and supports, has been implemented;
f. The educational planning team, IEP team or Section 504 team has reviewed the student's program and placement to determine whether it is sufficient to meet the student's unique needs;
g. The criteria for use are clearly identified;
h. Any contraindications for use are identified;
i. Staff implementing the individual safety plan have received training from a state- recommended training program;
j. The parents are fully informed of the inherent risks of using restraint and seclusion;
k. The parents provide informed consent to the use of restraint and/or seclusion, which shall be revocable at any time; and
l. The ongoing need for an individual safety plan is reviewed and revised, as appropriate, and in any event at least annually.
Vermont Secretary of State


Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-036. USE OF RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS (4500)

4502.4 Physical restraint or seclusion shall only be imposed:
a. By school personnel or contract service providers whohave been trained to provide the selected intervention unless, due to the unforeseeable nature of the danger of the circumstance, trained personnel are not immediately available;
a. When a restrained student is monitored face-to-face by school personnel or contract service providers; or
b. If personnel safety is significantly compromised by face-to-face monitoring, or the student is in seclusion, school personnel or a contract service provider are in direct visual contact with the student.

4502.5 Physical restraint or seclusion shall be terminated as soon as:
a. The student demonstrates that he/she is in unnecessary pain or significant physical distress indicating a possible need for emergency medical assistance or that his/her breathing or communication is compromised; or
b. The student's behavior no longer poses an imminent danger of physical injury to the student or others or danger to property; or
c. Less restrictive interventions would be effective in stopping such imminent danger of physical injury or property damage.

4502.6 Following termination of any physical restraint or seclusion, the student shall be evaluated and monitored for the remainder of the school day on which physical restraint or seclusion is imposed. The evaluation shall include a routine physical/medical assessment conducted by someone not involved in the restraint or seclusion, and documentation of any injury received by the student as a result of the restraint or seclusion.

Section 4503 Reporting the Use of Restraint and Seclusion.
4503.1 To the School Administrator.
Any person who imposes a restraint or seclusion shall report its use to the school administrator as soon as possible, but in no event later than the end of the school day of its use.

4503.2 To Parents.
a. The school administrator shall make a documented attempt to provide verbal or electronic notice of any incident of restraint or seclusion to the student's parents (as defined in 4500.3(13)) as soon as practical but in no event later than the end of the school day of its use; and
b. Shall provide written notice to the parents within 24 hours of each use of restraint or seclusion that includes:

  • i. The date and time of its use;
  • ii. A description of the restraint and other intervention used;
  • iii. The date and time when the debriefing session will occur; including notice that the parents have the opportunity to participate in the debriefing; and
  • iv. The name and telephone number of the contact person who can provide further information.
    Vermont Secretary of State

Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-036. USE OF RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS (4500)

4503.4 To the Commissioner of the Department of Education.
The Superintendent of the supervisory union shall report the use of restraint or seclusion to the Commissioner of the Department of Education within three (3) school days of receipt of a report indicating any the following:
a. There is death, injury requiring outside medical treatment or hospitalization to staff or student as a result of a restraint or seclusion; or
b. Physical restraint or seclusion has been used for more than thirty (30) minutes or
c. Physical restraint or seclusion has been used in violation of these rules, including the use of any prohibited restraint or seclusion.
The report shall include all the information set forth in Rule 4504 required of a written record of each use of restraint or seclusion.

Section 4504 Documentation.
Each school shall maintain written records of each use of restraint and seclusion. The records shall be maintained by the school administrator and shall include the following:
a. The name, age, gender and grade of the student;
b. The date, time and duration of the restraint or seclusion;
c. Any injuries, death or hospitalization to student or staff resulting from the use of restraint or seclusion;
d. The location where the restraint or seclusion occurred;
e. The precipitating event[s] leading up to the restraint or seclusion;
f. A list of school personnel who participated in the application, monitoring and supervision of the student while restrained or secluded;
g. The type of restraint or seclusion used;
h. The reason for the restraint or seclusion;
i. A description of all the interventions used prior to the application of the restraint or seclusion;
j. Whether the student has a behavioral intervention plan and/or individualized education plan, Section 504 plan or educational support plan; and
k. The date notification was provided to the student's parents.
Vermont Secretary of State


Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-036. USE OF RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS (4500)

Section 4505 Debriefing Following Use of Restraint or Seclusion.
Following each incident of restraint or seclusion, the school administrator shall implement follow-up procedures that include:
a. Within two (2) school days, a proper staff person reviewing the incident with the student in a manner appropriate to the student's age and developmental ability, to discuss the behavior[s] that precipitated the use of restraint or seclusion;
b. Within two (2) school days, reviewing the incident with the staff person(s) who administered the restraint or seclusion to discuss whether proper restraint or seclusion procedures were followed, including the use of proper procedures to prevent the need for restraint or seclusion;
c. An opportunity for parents to participate in the review of an incident of restraint or seclusion within four (4) school days:

  • i. Parents shall receive prior written (including e-mail) notice of the review meeting; and
  • ii. The meeting shall be convened at a mutually acceptable time and place; and
    d. Determining, in consultation with the parents, any specific follow up actions to be taken.

Section 4506 Annual Notification.
Annually, at or before the beginning of the academic year, each school (defined in 4500.3(10)) shall inform all school personnel, and parents of students enrolled in the school of the policies pertaining to the use of physical restraint and seclusion and the intent to emphasize the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports and its intention to avoid the use of physical restraint or seclusion to address targeted student behavior.
Vermont Secretary of State


Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-036. USE OF RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS (4500)

Section 4508 Monitoring and Corrective Action.
The commissioner of the Department of Education shall review reports received pursuant to Rule 4503.4 and identify those schools in need of additional training and, when those reports reflect an over-use of these interventions, shall direct the school to work with the department to develop a corrective action plan.

Section 4509 State Recommended Training.
The Department of Education shall maintain a directory of recommended physical restraint training programs, which must include at least the following elements:
a. Appropriate procedures for preventing the need for physical restraint, including the de-escalation of dangerous behavior, relationship-building, and the use of alternatives to physical restraint;
b. Identification of dangerous behaviors that may indicate the need for physical restraint and methods for evaluating the risk of harm to determine if physical restraint is warranted;
c. Simulated experience in administering and in receiving a variety of physical restraint techniques, across a range of increasingly restrictive interventions;
d. Instruction regarding the effects of physical restraint on the person restrained, including monitoring physical signs of distress and how to obtain medical assistance;
e. Instruction regarding investigation of injuries and complaints.

A school may use a training program that is not on the state recommended list if it submits a plan to the Commissioner of Education demonstrating how that training program meets the purposes of these Rules and contains the elements listed above.

Section 4510 Effective Date.
These Rules shall become effective on August 15, 2011, however schools shall have until September 30, 2011, to have trained staff available.
Vermont Secretary of State

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