Legal Update Memo No. 37-2018 – New Law Requires Schools to Limit Use of Restraint and Seclusion for All Students and to Collect Related Data (K-12)

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Governor Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill 2657, also known as the Weber Law.  AB 2657, which is attached to this Legal Update, added sections 49005 through 49006.4 to the Education Code.

New law prohibits use of behavioral restraints by any educational providers[1] unless it is necessary to control student behavior that poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the student or others, and that harm cannot be immediately prevented by a response that is less restrictive.[2]  This bill applies to all students, not only students with disabilities.[3]

AB 2657 provides that restraint and seclusion of students should be used as a “last resort,” and can never be used as punishment or discipline or for staff convenience.  Newly added section 49005.8 of the Education Code details what actions are now impermissible as to all students.  Of note is the explicit requirement that no student can be held in a prone (facedown) restraint if his or her hands are held or restrained behind his or her back.

For purposes of this law, “behavioral restraints” includes both mechanical and physical restraints.  Mechanical restraints do not include adaptive devices or restraints used by peace officers or security officers for detention or public safety purposes.  Physical restraints include any action that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head.  However, an educational provider is still permitted to physically escort a student who is acting out for the purpose of inducing that student to walk to a safe location, which can involve temporarily touching or holding that student’s hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, or back.

For purposes of this law, “seclusion” includes any involuntary confinement of a child by himself or herself, where the child is physically prevented from leaving.  Educational providers may continue to use “timeout” so long as the timeout is monitored, not locked, and is used only for the purpose of calming.

The new law also requires annual reporting of the use of behavioral restraints and seclusion.  All school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools are required to report to the CDE the number of behavioral restraints and seclusions for students enrolled in or served by the local educational agency.  This reporting must be disaggregated into the both the number of times and the number of students, and separate counts must be provided in each category for students with Individualized Education Plans, students with 504 plans, and all other students.  This reporting must include information on students placed in non-district programs, such as nonpublic schools.

Legal Update Written by Jennifer E. Nix, Associate General Counsel.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

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[1] “Educational providers” is defined to include any person who provides educational or related services, support, or other assistance to any student enrolled in a local educational agency, nonpublic school, or nonpublic agency.

[2] Existing law prohibited corporal punishment of students.

[3] This bill did not amend the portions of the Education Code related to behavioral interventions and students with disabilities, located at Education Code §§ 56520 to 56525.