* ProPublica Illinois today…
Five months ago, when Illinois schools Superintendent Carmen Ayala learned students were being repeatedly shut inside small rooms alone as punishment and physically held down on the floor, she said she cried. She vowed it would never happen again.
But Illinois State Board of Education officials negotiated with a key legislative rule-making committee to allow schools to use prone restraint for one more school year, aiming to phase out its use by July 2021. The decision last week came after a few small schools — including one whose advisory board includes state lawmakers — mounted letter-writing campaigns and direct appeals to government leaders.
State education board members already had relaxed the emergency ban that prevented children from being secluded by themselves, though with clearer direction on when isolated timeouts can and can’t be used and, for the first time, state oversight. The board, however, had remained firm on not allowing face-down, or prone, floor restraints because they are too dangerous.
That last sentence is not true.
* How do I know it’s not true? From ProPublica Illinois this past December…
Illinois Will Allow Prone, Supine Restraints on Children While Schools Learn to Phase Them Out
Amending emergency rules put in place two weeks ago, the Illinois State Board of Education says it will again allow schoolchildren to be physically restrained in positions it had banned, though only in crisis situations.
All JCAR did last week was extend those amended emergency rules from last December. The emergency rules covered quiet rooms and physical restraint.
* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line thoroughly covered last week’s meeting…
The commission, known as JCAR, meets monthly to approve rules written by state agencies and boards in order to implement newly passed state laws. Often, before JCAR is able to take final action on rules, emergency rules will be written that can last up to several months.
One of the most pressing set of emergency rules JCAR needed to vote to extend were ones approved by the Illinois State Board of Education in November after Tribune/ProPublica Illinois investigation into the use and potential abuse of isolation rooms in school settings for children who are deemed disruptive in classroom settings. The new rules prohibit the use of locked seclusion rooms and stop schools from using prone restraint.
Cunningham said though the emergency rules would expire while school was still out of session in Illinois due to Pritzker’s executive order shuttering schools to prevent the spread of coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, the rule was still important to have in place for special education students who have been moved to out-of-state boarding schools better equipped to handle their needs. Some of those schools are still in session. […]
Beyond those special education students at out-of-state facilities, Cunningham said that if school was resumed statewide in a month or further down the road, without JCAR having met to extend the emergency rules on isolation rooms, it would “become a complicated legal question.”
“We would open things up to all sorts of legal debate about us renewing a rule after it was already expired,” Cunningham said. “Do we have ability to extend a rule that already expired?”
*** UPDATE *** ISBE…
I am sending some information for your post on the recent ProPublica story on prone restraint: https://capitolfax.com/2020/04/06/am-i-missing-something-here/.
Following weeks of conversations, it became clear that it would not be possible to move forward with a ban on the use of prone restraint via rulemaking at this time. JCAR informed ISBE that if a one-year extension on the practice was not accepted, a filing prohibition for this section would be under serious consideration by members. ISBE agreed to this one-year extension on the use of prone restraint in very narrow circumstances to allow schools more time to transition to less restrictive techniques.
ISBE looks forward to continued talks with members of JCAR and with members of the General Assembly regarding the agency’s concerns with the use of prone restraint. ISBE will fully support legislation to ban prone restraint.
Director of External Communications
Illinois State Board of Education