School boards in Missouri are now required to define in a written policy its district’s use of seclusion rooms and restraint methods for students with behavioral problems.
The requirement is one part of an education bill Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law on Monday. School districts must complete policies within two years. The law also says the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop within one year a model policy that draws on advice from organizations for students with disabilities and experts in behavior management.
The law comes after state Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, proposed banning so-called seclusion rooms earlier this year after hearing complaints from parents of children with autism. His proposal came on the heels of two St. Charles County families speaking out against the use of seclusion rooms in the Francis Howell School District. The district has said that parents knew about the use of the rooms, and that the timeout rooms were used only as a last resort as part of a student’s individual education plan when behavior causes him or her to be a danger to themselves or others.
The new law prohibits educators from confining a student in an unattended, locked space, except in emergency situations while waiting for police.
Rupp said the policies will better ensure the protection of special education students and that school district personnel and volunteers are properly trained to care for them.