Saturday, September 13, 2008

Proposed Florida "Draft" Rule on "Use of Reasonable Force"

NOTE: We have obtained a copy of the FL Draft for the "Use of Reasonable Force" which is set for public comment until September 15, 2008. Please see our "Open Letter to the FL Dept of Education" for our stance on this "draft."

___________ Use of Reasonable Force by School Personnel DRAFT

(1) Reasonable Force is defined as appropriate physical response necessary to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment. Reasonable Force should be limited to the minimal force necessary to prevent undue harm or injury to the student(s) or others or significant damage to property. Reasonable Force should not be used as an instrument for the educator’s anger or frustration with a situation or student(s) and if possible should be used in a way that does not unduly impugn the dignity of the student(s).

(2) The use of reasonable force on a student or students is permitted to protect the student(s) and others from:
a. conditions harmful to learning,
b. conditions harmful to students’ mental health,
c. conditions harmful to students’ physical health,
d. conditions harmful to safety,
e. harm and/or injury, and/or
f. the significant damage of property

(3) Reasonable Force should not be excessive, cruel, or unusual in nature. When administered, reasonable force should be used with consideration of the following:
a. severity of offense(s) that elicited the use of force,
b. size and physical abilities of all parties,
c. mental and psychological abilities of the student(s),
d. patterns of behavior exhibited by the student(s) that precipitated the use of force,
e. potential dangers, physical and others, for using force
f. availability of assistance to control the situation without force, and
g. preventative or defusing action(s) taken prior to use of physical force.

(4) While use of reasonable physical force is permitted, alternatives should be attempted, if circumstances permit.

(5) Use of Reasonable Force should cease upon the restoration of a safe and orderly learning environment.

(6) Nothing in these recommendations should be construed as addressing state or local school board policy on corporal punishment.

(7) The use of force in an act or act(s) of self-defense should not be confused with the use of reasonable force as described herein.

(8) Restraint and seclusion techniques shall only be used when the student presents an imminent danger to himself or herself or others, or significant damage to property, and other less restrictive interventions have not or will not prevent danger or harm.

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