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Home » Student Success » Health & Safety » School Safety » Restraint and Isolation

Restraint and Isolation

Contact Information

For questions regarding reducing the use of restraint and isolation, statewide data collection and/or training requests please contact:

Lee Collyer
Director, School Health and Safety 
360-725-6050

The Washington State Legislature appropriated funds for OSPI to monitor, and provide training, technical assistance, and other support to schools and districts to reduce the use of restraint and isolation.

HB 1240 amended RCW 28A.600.485 and expanded the prohibition of restraint and isolation to all students. It allows restraint or isolation of any student only when it's “reasonably necessary to control spontaneous behavior that poses an imminent likelihood of serious harm, as defined in RCW 70.96B.010.” The provisions of the bill apply only to incidents of restraint or isolation that occur while a student is participating in school-sponsored instruction or activities. As a result of the legislation, the data collection around incidents of restraint or isolation is neither a special education nor a discipline collection, but rather a school safety-related data collection.

Restraint

Physical intervention or force used to control a student, including the use of a restraint device to restrict a student's freedom of movement. It does not include appropriate use of a prescribed medical, orthopedic, or therapeutic device when used as intended, such as to achieve proper body position, balance, or alignment, or to permit a student to safely participate in activities.

*The term physical restraint does not include temporary touching or holding of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, or back for the purpose of inducing a student who is acting out to walk to a safe location.

Isolation

Restricting the student alone within a room or any other form of enclosure, from which the student may not leave. It does not include a student's voluntary use of a quiet space for self-calming or temporary removal of a student from his or her regular instructional area to an unlocked area for purposes of carrying out an appropriate positive behavior intervention plan.

Restraint Device

A device used to assist in controlling a student, including but not limited to metal handcuffs, plastic ties, ankle restraints, leather cuffs, other hospital-type restraints, pepper spray, tasers, or batons. Restraint device does not mean a seat harness used to safely transport students. This section shall not be construed as encouraging the use of these devices.

Likelihood of Serious Harm

A substantial risk that: Physical harm will be inflicted by a person upon his or her own person, as evidenced by threats or attempts to commit suicide or inflict physical harm on oneself; physical harm will be inflicted by a person upon another, as evidenced by behavior which has caused such harm or which places another person or persons in reasonable fear of sustaining such harm; or physical harm will be inflicted by a person upon the property of others, as evidenced by behavior which has caused substantial loss or damage to the property of others; or the person has threatened the physical safety of another and has a history of one or more violent acts.

RCW 28A.600.485 states: Any school employee, resource officer, or school security officer who uses isolation, physical restraint or mechanical restraint on a student during school-sponsored instruction or activities must inform the building administrator or designee as soon as possible; and within two (2) business days, submit a written report of the incident. The written report will include, at a minimum:

  • The date and time of the incident;
  • The name and job title of the individual who administered the restraint or isolation;
  • A description of the activity that led to the restraint or isolation;
  • The type of restraint or isolation used on the student, including the duration;
  • Whether the student or staff was physically injured during the restraint or isolation incident and any medical care provided; and
  • Any recommendations for changing the nature or amount of resources available to the student and staff members in order to avoid similar incidents.

The principal or designee must make a reasonable effort to verbally inform the parent or guardian within 24 hours of the incident; and must send written notification as soon as practical but postmark no later than 5 business days after the restraint or isolation occurred in the language that the school customarily provides school-related information to the parent.

RCW 28A.600.485 includes a reporting requirement for the 2016–17 school year. By January 2018, each school district is required to submit summary data to OSPI. Districts are required to report annually each school year.

For each school, the school district shall include:

  1. The number of individual incidents of restraint and isolation: This number will reflect the total number of incidents requiring restraint and those requiring isolation of any student. This is an aggregation of the written reports described above.
  2. Unduplicated student counts: The unduplicated number of any and all students, with or without either IEPs or 504 plans, who required restraint or isolation.
  3. The number of injuries to students and staff: The number of staff with an injury(s) which resulted from the restraint and/or isolation itself. The number of students with an injury(s) which resulted from the restraint and/or isolation itself. These numbers will not include other injuries which may have resulted from the incident.
  4. The types of restraint or isolation used: The collection tool includes a drop-down menu with possible methods of restraint and a text box to identify types or locations of isolation.

If there were no incidents requiring the use of restraint or isolation of any student in any schools within a school district, that data is also captured in the collection. Any disciplinary actions which may have followed a situation requiring restraint or isolation are reported separately through the discipline collection process.

By January 1st annually, each school district is required to summarize the written reports of restraint and isolation of any student and submit the summaries to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Within ninety days of receipt, OSPI is required to publish the summary data on its website. For this collection, the district shall report the following data for each school:

  • Number of individual incidents of restraint and isolation,
  • Number of students involved in the incidents,
  • Number of injuries to students and staff,
  • Types of restraint or isolation used.

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, the restraint and isolation application in EDS is closed and no longer used. All restraint and isolation data captured in a district student information system is submitted to OSPI in submissions to CEDARS Restraint and Isolation File (S).

Statewide Data

Review the 2020-21 Restraint and Isolation Counts of Students, Staff, Incidents, and Type. If a school district, school building, or local education agency is not listed in this report, they reported zero incidents during the 2019-2020 school year. This has been verified by OSPI.

Past Data

Restraint and Isolation Legislative Workgroup

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5693 Sec. 501(3)(h)(i) provided a directive to create an advisory workgroup to prioritize relational safety. The workgroup was directed to convene individuals with specific attendees and develop this legislative report. The workgroup met nine times from August through December to discuss topics impacting isolation and restraint in Washington state. The workgroup discussed required topics and expanded based on lived experiences from self-advocates, families, and educators. Meeting topics included but were not limited to: discussion on the current state of isolation and restraint in Washington and nationally; the impact of isolation and restraint on students, educators, and families; crisis intervention programs; evidence-based practices; tracking and reporting data; avenues of recourse; self-advocate experiences; the need for funding and training for educators; and intersectionality in discipline.

Review the full Crisis Response Workgroup Legislative Report

To eliminate isolation and reduce the need for restraint, the workgroup finds that ongoing educator training of crisis prevention and de-escalation practices is necessary. These practices include crisis intervention programs, de-escalation training and evidence-based practices shown to proactively reduce physical restraint and eliminate isolation. The following is a list of such practices recommended by the workgroup.

The workgroup recommends that schools and districts adopt one of the following trauma-informed crisis intervention programs that do not provide training in the use of prone restraint. Districts may consider the specific needs of their students and staff when selecting a program. Districts must include supplemental training materials, provided by the state, which include the lived experiences of people who have gone through being restrained and/or isolated in a K–12 setting.

In addition to selecting a high-quality crisis prevention and intervention program, the workgroup found the following classroom practices to be effective for reducing the need for crisis procedures:

  •  Defining, teaching, and reinforcing predictable and positive school/classroom expectations and routines using trauma informed lens (PBIS/ISF Tier 1 practices)
  •  Building, repairing, and actively evaluating relationships
  •  Teaching and practicing self-regulation strategies for adults
  •  Direct instruction in self-regulation/Social Emotional Learning skills for students
  •  Implementing universal design for learning
  •  Proactive behavior management
  •  Culturally responsive teaching practices that promote a culture of dignity for all students
  •  Consistent access for student’s identified accommodations and communication supports

  •  Reducing staff/student ratios
  •  Self-regulation strategy choices for student
  •  De-escalation strategies (verbal and non-verbal)
  •  Brief functional behavioral assessment (FBA)/behavior intervention plan (BIP)
  •  Timely access to mental health supports via small groups and family supports

  •  Function based escalation review process
  •  FBA/BIP
  •  Timely access to individualized mental health supports as needed