Report shows seclusion, restraint of students down in Janesville schools

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

JANESVILLE--Janesville School District staff used restraint or seclusion on students less in the 2013-14 school year than the year before, the school board learned Tuesday.

Physical restraint or seclusion was used with students 404 times during the 2013-14 school year, down from 476 times during the 2012-13 school year, according to a report presented to the school board.

Barbara Kelley, supervisor of special education for the district, said the methods are used only as a last resort when children “poses a threat to harm themselves or others,  is physically or verbally attacking or aggressive or exhibits other dangerous behavior.”

“We are working really hard at implementing good, solid, positive intervention support,” Kelley said. “I think we are getting better at that.”

Each incident is documented by one of 165 employees trained in non-violent crisis intervention, Kelley said.

The reporting is required by Wisconsin Act 125, which was created in September 2012 to define seclusion and physical restraint, as well as conditions for its use, reporting and record keeping requirements in public schools throughout the state.

The board must receive the annual report by Sept. 1, Kelley said. Because it is only the second year of reporting, it is too early to see any trends in the data, she said.

“It's important because it's required (by the state), and the safety of staff and students is of the utmost importance,” Kelley said.

According to the presentation, Act 125 defines seclusion as the involuntary confinement of a pupil in a room the pupil is physically prevented from leaving.

In Janesville schools, seclusion alone was used at the elementary level 228 times during the 2013-14 school year. It was never used at the secondary school level during that time. It was used 235 times in elementary schools during the 2012-13 school year and twice during that time in secondary schools.

Act 125 defines physical restraint as a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a pupil to freely move his or her torso, arms, legs or head.

In Janesville schools, restraint was used at the elementary level 14 times during the 2013-14 school year. It was used 13 times during that time period in secondary schools. During the 2012-13 school year, it was used 171 times in elementary schools and four times in secondary school.

Seclusion and restraint were used together 149 times during the 2013-14 school year at the elementary level and none at the secondary school level. Those numbers during 2012-13 were 63 and one respectively.

Incidents at elementary schools during the 2013-14 school year involved 46 students, 40 of whom have disabilities. All four students involved in the incidents at secondary schools involved students with disabilities.

During the 2012-13 year, 44 students were involved in incidents at elementary schools and three were involved at secondary schools. Of those, 28 were students with disabilities at the elementary level and one student has disabilities at the secondary school level.

Kelley said possible reasons for fewer incidents at the secondary level are preschool diagnostic intervention services, maturation of students and the use of uniformed police liaison officers at all secondary schools.

“It is critical to note seclusion and physical restraint is the very last effort to work with the student in regaining control of their behavior and in maintaining in a safe environment,” Kelley wrote in the report.

She cited redirecting of anger, sensory exercises to calm students and quiet relaxation time as strategies used to diffuse situations before physical restraint and seclusion are needed.

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