A week-long period in which representatives from the state’s Board of Education will travel to more than three cities to gather public comment on plans to restrict seclusion and restraint in schools is under way.
It has been more than a month since the board 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 sometime after the current academic year commenced.
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 were 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.
Federal authorities determined that other districts under-reported or neglected to track the usage of seclusion rooms.
The Iowa branch of the ACLU said in a statement that it “has fundamental concerns about locking up and restraining students.”
The meeting schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, Sept. 25: Heartland Area Education Agency — 6500 Corporate Drive, Johnston, conference rooms 152A, 152B and 152C
Thursday, Sept. 26: Grant Wood Area Education Agency — 1120 33rd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, winter/spring room
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency — 500 NE 6th St., Pocahontas, North and South Twin Lakes conference rooms
Wednesday, Oct. 2: Central Rivers Area Education Agency — 1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls, Conference Room B
Thursday, Oct. 3: Great Prairie Area Education Agency — 812 Chester Ave., Ottumwa, Ottumwa Community School District Media Center