Feds, school reach agreement on student restraint, seclusion

November 5, 2021 GMT

SACO, Maine (AP) — The federal government and a Maine school district have reached a voluntary agreement that seeks to avoid unnecessary use of restraint or seclusion of students.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said Friday it reached the agreement with Saco schools. The agreement calls on the district to find ways to reduce involvement of a school resource officer in instances of school misconduct that could be handled by school personnel.

Saco Superintendent Jeremy Ray said in a statement that the catalyst for the review “appeared to be an unfortunate spike in the use of restraints and seclusions to address student behavior incidents during the 2017-2018 school year.” He said the district had already made several changes to school practices before the federal review began.

One of the changes is increased training for staff in safety training and de-escalation, Ray said. Another change is increased availability of behavioral consultants, social workers, psychologists and behavior analysts to work with students with disabilities, Ray said.

Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, said the district has shown leadership in “addressing crucial issues for students with disabilities, ensuring that these students will learn in the full school day with appropriate supports from trained school personnel.”