Seclusion & Restraint Information - Emergency and Permanent Rule Updates (UPDATED 12/12/19)

By Alison Maley posted 11-25-2019 14:27

Following reporting by ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune on reports of unlawful isolated seclusion of students in Illinois school districts and special education providers, the Illinois State Board of Education took emergency action to end the use of isolated seclusion, expand data collection on instances of time-out and physical restraint, and investigate cases of seclusion. Please see below for a summary of the emergency rules, proposed permanent rules and additional resources.

**UPDATE 12/12/2019 - ISBE Proposes Permanent Rules**

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has filed proposed permanent rules for student time out and restraint. The proposed rules will permanently ban prone restraints, which are currently allowed under the latest emergency rules (See 12/10/19 update below). Supine restraints will be allowed in narrow circumstances. 

The proposed rules clarify that these restrictions on time out do not pertain to student-initiated breaks; sensory breaks; brief removals to the hallway; or to appropriate disciplinary measures, such as in-school suspensions and detentions.

The permanent rules are scheduled to be finalized in the spring of 2020. Public comment on the proposed permanent rules is open until February 4 and may be submitted to ISBE via email at, by phone, by physical mail, or to anyone in the agency. Please follow this blog post and the Advocacy in Action email for further updates.

The proposed rules can be viewed here.

**UPDATE 12/10/2019 - ISBE Amends Emergency Rules**

The amendment filed 12/4/19 temporarily allows prone and supine physical restraints in narrow circumstances and only for severe crisis situations to protect the safety of students and staff. The amendment will give schools time to transition to the use of alternate interventions without causing students to be dis-enrolled. The amendment mandates that other less restrictive and intrusive interventions have been tried first and have not succeeded in stopping the danger. 

The amendment continues to prohibit using prone or supine restraints in a manner that impairs a student's ability to breathe or communicate, as well as for students with medical or psychological limitations that contraindicate their use.

The amendment requires that one staff person trained in identifying the signs of distress observe the student during the entire incident of prone or supine physical restraint. The amendment also requires an additional layer of review if a student is restrained in a prone or supine position in at least two separate instances within a 30-school day period.

Click here to view the entire amendment with specific circumstances that limit the use of prone and supine restraints. 

Summary of ISBE Emergency Rules on Time Out and Physical Restraint

The emergency rules on time out and physical restraint that were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education (effective November 20, 2019) will remain in effect for up to 150 days.  The emergency rules do not prohibit the use of time out and physical restraint, but rather reform the ways these techniques are used in order to assure student safety.  Specifically, the emergency rules accomplish the following:

  1. States that time out and physical restraint can only be used for “therapeutic purposes.”
  2. Provides that if the time out room is fitted with a door, the door cannot be locked at any time during the time out.
  3. Provides that a trained staff member “must remain with the student at all times during the time out.
  4. Provides that “a physical restraint shall not impair a student’s ability to breathe or speak normally. Prone or supine physical restraint shall not be permitted, except if all of specific criteria are met (amended 12/4/19 - see above)."
  5. Provides that “no less than once every 15 minutes, the trained adult must assess whether the student has ceased presenting the specific behavior for which the time out was imposed.”
  6. Provides that when a student experiences three instances of non-therapeutic time out or physical restraint, the effectiveness of the procedure must be reviewed by school personnel and a behavioral plan must be prepared for the student.
  7. Provides that “no later than 48 hours after any use of time out or physical restraint, the school district or other entity serving the student shall, in a form and manner prescribed by the State Superintendent, submit the information…to the State Superintendent.”
  8. Provides that “within 24 hours after any issue of time out or physical restraint, the school district or other entity serving the student shall send the form…to the student’s parents.” The rules also eliminate the option for parents or guardians to waive notification of time out or physical restraint.
  9. Requires “any adult who is supervising a student in time out or applying physical restraint shall be trained in de-escalation, restorative practices, and behavioral management practices.”
  10. Mandates a board policy on time out and physical restraint.
  11. Provides for a parent complaint procedure whereby parents can file a complaint with ISBE.

We will provide additional information and guidance as it becomes available. Please see the following resources for more information:

ISBE press release - Outlining planned emergency actions which include filing emergency rules 

ISBE Emergency Rules - Bans all isolated seclusion practices, requires education entities to report to ISBE within 48 hours of any instance of physical restraint or time-out, adds physical inspections of time-out spaces by Regional Offices of Education, and provides updated guidance to the field on the appropriate uses of time-out and physical restraint

ISBE Dear Colleague letter

Physical Restraint and Time Out Form - This form must be completed and sent to parents/guardians within 24 hours of the incident and sent to ISBE within 48 hours of the incident to