Attend a public hearing and let the Iowa Department of Education know your views on "seclusion rooms" and restraints.
For years, educators in Iowa public schools have used "seclusion rooms" and restraints on students as young as elementary school.
The ACLU of Iowa has fundamental concerns about locking up and restraining students. It's been pushing for improved rules, along with partner organizations Disability Rights Iowa, The University of Iowa Law Clinic, and four private attorneys.
The improved rules would ensure that such extreme measures are used only when there is a serious risk of harm to the student or others and that there is appropriate training and oversight, including timely notification of parents or guardians.
For the second time, the Department of Education is soliciting input from the public on the rules after the State Board of Education rejected the rules in August specifically to get more public input.
The Department is holding a series of public meetings across the state over the next two months. Meeting dates and locations are listed below. Each meeting will run from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The goal of the meetings is to get input from parents, school personnel, and other stakeholders about four specific elements of the rules.
The four topics for the hearings are:
- Seclusion room requirements
- Parent notification
- Training requirements
- The term "serious physical injury."
The ACLU of Iowa’s position on the four topics is:
- The Department should not extend the 2-year grace period for schools to bring existing seclusion rooms into compliance with the new rules. Children have already been locked up in smaller seclusion rooms for far too long. Two years is a good compromise between limiting this practice and giving school districts the time they need to make the needed changes.
- The Department should add a requirement that parents/guardians be notified periodically while their child is being secluded or restrained. The new rules would require schools to attempt to notify parents/guardians within 10 minutes of both the start and the ending of their child being secluded or restrained but no does not require any notification in between. When their child is being locked up by school personnel, parents/guardians deserve more than that.
- The Department should keep the training requirement. Any school employee who locks up a child should have adequate training on the rules, school policies, documentation requirements and alternatives to locking children up before doing so.
- The Department should keep the modifier “serious” because the imminent threat of or an actual serious injury or serious damage to property should be a factor in determining whether or not to lock up or restrain a child at school. Otherwise, school personnel could lock up or restrain a child because of the imminent threat of any injury or the threat of any damage to property. Imagine a student who is sitting behind another student and says “I’m going to scratch you” or a student who carves their name into a desk. The new rules should stop school personnel from locking up or restraining children unless there is a serious threat or serious damage to property.
Attend one (or more) of the meetings in-person to tell the Department you want strong rules that will help children and not lead to traumatizing them.
Tell the Department that you don’t want school personnel locking up children in Iowa schools. If you can’t make it to the meetings in-person, you can submit written comments about the rules to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see the new rules, click here.
For more information about the meetings, contact email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 24
Green Hills Area Education Agency - Creston
257 Swan St., Creston
Wednesday, September 25
Heartland Area Education Agency - Johnston
Conference Room 152A,152B, and 152C
6500 Corporate Drive, Johnston
Thursday, September 26*
Grant Wood Area Education Agency – Cedar Rapids
4401 Sixth St. SW, Cedar Rapids
Tuesday, October 1
Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency - Pocahontas
North and South Twin Lakes Conference Rooms
500 NE 6th St., Pocahontas
Wednesday, October 2
Central Rivers Area Education Agency – Cedar Falls
Conference Room B
1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls
Thursday, October 3
Great Prairie Area Education Agency – Ottumwa
Ottumwa Community School District
812 Chester Ave, Ottumwa
*Note: New location