Like much of the discussion surrounding the new rules regarding restraint in schools, the recent article “Wilton lawmaker looks to add clarity to student restraint rules” (Feb. 5), was based on myth and misunderstanding.
It was reported that students with disabilities are not disproportionately subjected to restraint. But, according to the Office for Civil Rights, students with disabilities represent just 12 percent of the student population and nearly 70 percent of the students physically restrained in schools.
In addition, it was reported that some believe the new rules “are too restrictive in allowing physical intervention only when there is an imminent threat to a student’s life,” and that teachers have been injured because they felt unable to act.
But the reality is that the rules permit teachers and school staff to physically intervene when “the behavior of a student presents an imminent risk of harm to the student or others.” Any imminent risk of harm is sufficient.
If teachers believe that the new rules require them to sustain injury before intervening physically, they have been failed by their administrators and a lack of guidance, not by the new rules.
These rules were developed through a consensus-based, rule-making process that involved more than 85 hours of meetings of a broad-based stakeholder group.
It seems that before rushing to make changes, we should first ensure that teachers understand what the new rules actually say.
Kim Moody, Poland
Executive director, Disability Rights Center