On February 18, 2020, ISBE approved revised proposed rules related to the use of physical restraint and time out in schools. The revised proposed rules follow ISBE’s receipt and review of over three hundred comments on the initial proposed rules and include several significant changes, most notably permitting isolated time out in specific circumstances. The revised proposed rules next go to JCAR for Second Notice and will be considered at an upcoming JCAR meeting. If JCAR has no objection to the revised proposed rules, ISBE can proceed to adopt them. According to a report, ISBE also filed the revised proposed rules as new emergency rules to make them effective immediately. On February 25, 2020, ISBE posted new emergency rules, effective immediately, that are different from the revised proposed permanent rules (read more here).

The primary changes between the initial and revised proposed rules are as follows:

  • Isolated time out.
    • Isolated time out is defined as “the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a time out room or other enclosure outside the classroom without a supervising adult n the time out room or enclosure.”
    • Isolated time out is only permitted “when the adult in the time out room or enclosure is in imminent danger of serious physical harm because the student is unable to cease actively engaging in extreme physical aggression.”
    • The supervising adult must remain within two feet of the enclosure and be able to see, hear, and communicate with the student without the use of cameras, audio, or other electronic monitoring devices.
  • Time out enclosure. If the enclosure used for time out has a door, it may not have a locking mechanism, be physically blocked by furniture or any inanimate object, or be held shut.
  • Time limit for time out. Time out or isolated time out must cease immediately when the staff member determines that “the student is no longer an imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or others.” The initial proposed rules required time out to cease when no longer reasonably necessary.
  • Reporting form.
    • The report of the incident must include a description of the specific imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or others.
    • For isolated time out, the report must also include “a description of the rationale of why the needs of the student cannot be met by a lesser restrictive intervention and why an adult could not be present in the time out room.”
    • The ISBE form must be sent to parents or guardians within one business day after the incident. The initial proposed rules required the form to be sent within 24 hours.
  • Review meetings. A review meeting must be convened when a student experiences isolated time out, time out, or physical restraint on three days within a 30-day period. The initial proposed rules required a review meeting every three times a student experienced time out or physical restraint.
  • Training.
    • The required training, except for training on physical restraint, may be completed online.
    • Training must include providing participants a copy of the district’s policies on isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint.
  • Complaints. After receiving a complaint, ISBE will complete an on-site investigation if necessary, allow the complainant to submit additional information, and require the subject of the complaint to submit a written response

We will continue to monitor the development of the ISBE rules and guidance related to time out and physical restraint, as well as the proposed legislation on the topic. For additional information about this evolving issue, check out our coverage here. If you have questions about the revised proposed rules, reach out to a Franczek attorney.