Iowa is nearly two weeks into a 108-day public comment window on proposed new rules guiding the use isolation and restraints at public schools in the state.
More than 90 stakeholders already have provided their thoughts on the new rules.
Iowa permits trained school employees to restrain or isolate students when the students’ actions pose a danger to themselves or others.
While many Iowa school districts use seclusion rooms with the intent of disciplining students who engage in violent outbursts, allegations that children who commit less serious offenses are sent to these rooms and officials neglected to report such usage have surfaced.
Educators in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City asserted that restraint and isolation are a last resort. However, a state report determined that the Iowa City Community School district was over-using seclusion rooms as a form of punishment while the Cedar Rapids Community School district incorrectly reported figures in relation to their use of seclusion and restraint to Washington, D.C.
Among those with remaining concerns about the rules is the Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU said in a statement that it “has fundamental concerns about locking up and restraining students.”
Earlier in the fall, the state Board of Education voted against a new set of school seclusion rules, which school administrators strongly opposed for being too strict and lacking in flexibility for their respective campuses to carry out their safety and discipline policies.
Upon junking what would have been policy regarding the use of seclusion rooms and restraints on students with behavioral issues, the board decided to revisit the matter.
A public hearing for the rules is scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 7, 2020, at the Grimes State Office Building in Des Moines.