DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa State Board of Education has adopted new rules that limit districts on how and when seclusion rooms are used to discipline students.
The board voted unanimously this week to limit educators to using seclusion and restraint of students as a last resort and only when there’s a threat of bodily injury..
The new rules also require schools to notify parents of the use of seclusion and restraint as soon as possible and to make rooms used for seclusion at least 7-by-8 feet. Schools have five years to implement the new size requirements.
The change comes after years of criticism and pushback on use of the rooms. In 2017, the Iowa Department of Education determined that the Iowa City Community School District improperly used the rooms for minor infractions.
Mark Stringer, executive director of the Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new rules include many provisions the ALCU and other advocates had sought, but said more needs to be done.
He says they remain concerned about disparities in how students are disciplined in Iowa and across the county, adding that data shows that restraint and seclusion are still disproportionately used on students with disabilities and students of color.