The Kentucky Department of Education’s new restraint and seclusion policy proposal is in the final stages of approval this week and will go before the state’s Administrative Regulatory Review Committee Monday.
Kentucky is one of several states that don’t have a law regulating restraint and seclusion for misbehaving students. Instead, the Kentucky Board of Education sets the governing policies, but the department has acknowledged changes to the regulations are needed.
Along with recommendations from a task force, the Kentucky Department of Education added some provisions on restraint and seclusion laid out by the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year.
But during the public comment period several superintendents testified against parts of the proposal, saying the new policy is too vague and doesn’t do enough to protect teachers. Some said the new regulation wouldn’t provide clear guidance for teachers who often have to make quick behavioral intervention decisions.
After the public comment period, the regulation’s language softened, said Lucy Heskins, staff attorney supervisor for Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, which has been aggressively advocating for changes to the policy.
Heskins said the changes now before the review committee aren’t perfect, but if approved they would be a step in the right direction.
“I think there are some provisions that we find particularly important,” she said.
Among the most important changes, Heskins said, are disallowing supine and prone restraints, increased staff training and more parent communication. But the recent version did soften language directed at using restraint and seclusion against serious threats.
“We certainly wish it was a little stronger, but given the seriousness of the incidents we have seen and the complete lack of any kind of oversight or regulation we are thrilled to have something on the books,” she said.
Monday’s hearing could see more superintendent testimony, said Marsha Hockensmith, director of KPA.
If approved by the review committee, the policy would head to a legislative education committee for final approval.