Arkansas Department of Education Issues Guidelines for Use of Restraint in Schools

Arkansas Department of Education Issues Guidelines for Use of Restraint in Schools

By Jen Goodwin, UALR School of Law Extern, Disability Rights Arkansas


Restraint is a highly dangerous intervention used in schools that have resulted in death, injury and trauma in children.   Many organizations, including the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the National Disability Rights Network, have published reports documenting the use of abusive interventions such as restraint and seclusion and the harmful effect of such interventions on children. In the summer of 2001, the U.S. Department of Education Secretary asked all state departments of education to review their statutes, regulations, rules or advisory documents related to restraint and seclusion to determine whether they needed to be developed or updated.

The U.S. Department of Education provided states with a document entitled “Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document” to assist states with this task. This federal guidance document embodies important guidelines and principles including by providing that:

  • Every effort should be made to prevent the need for physical restraint or seclusion .
  • Every student has the right to be treated with dignity and to be free from abuse.
  • Physical restraint should only be used when a student’s behavior poses imminent threat of serious physical harm to self or others and should be discontinued as soon as this threat has passed.
  • Chemical and mechanical restraints should never be used in a school setting.

The Arkansas Department of Education recently issued “Advisory Guidelines for the Use of Student Restraints in Public School or Educational Settings” in September 2014. This advisory document provided principles and recommendations to Arkansas school district on essential principles, policies and practices related to the use of restraint in public schools and education settings. The Arkansas Department of Education recommended that all Arkansas school districts review this document and adopt policies and procedures with the Advisory Guidelines.

DRA recommends that all parents, providers and school personnel who are working with children who have or may be restrained in a school or educational setting review the Arkansas Department of Education’s Advisory Guidelines which can be found at this link.