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Kansas Takes First Step Toward Regulating Restraints, Seclusion

The Kansas State Board of Education voted unanimously this month to adopt regulations that regulate the use of restraints and seclusion at school.

Among other provisions, the regulations—developed by a special education advisory committee—say that rules about the use of these emergency interventions should apply to all students, not just those with disabilities, and that these techniques be used only for emergency or safety reasons, not as a behavior modification tool.

Kansas has nonbinding guidelines on restraining and secluding students, and laws regulating the techniques are being considered by the state legislature. The proposed law involves forcing districts to follow the guidelines, but the state board asked the legislature to revisit its guidelines before acting, the Topeka Capital Journal reported.

But the advisory council wants the state board to press forward. Previously, the group has related stories about students including Matthew, who has cerebral palsy and whose school in Scott City, Kan., secluded him in a restroom with a toilet for days, where he was forced to eat and do his work. His mother, the group said, was forced to change schools to protect her son. In another case, parents in Salina, Kan., reported that their child was locked in a dog kennel as a form of seclusion. And Ian, a student with autism in Cheney, was strapped to a stiff wooden chair to keep him from fidgeting. His parents weren't told about the incidents.

The state board will consider draft regulations at a meeting in May.

Parent Kelsyn Rooks Sr., of Overland Park, spoke about his 9-year-old son, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

Rooks' son was placed in a seclusion room away from teachers and other students multiple times per week, with him spending as "much as 86 minutes in the seclusion room and as many as 10 times per day," the Capital-Journal wrote.

Rooks said his he found his son "naked on the floor with one teacher kneeling on him, pinning his thighs with her knees, his wrists with her hands, while another staff member was screaming at and berating him."

Many states are working on their own rules and laws about regulating restraint and seclusion while federal rules and laws remain stalled.

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