Seclusion & Restraint Information - Summary of Emergency Rules

By Alison Maley posted 11 days ago

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 and additional resources.

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.”
  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