In 2015 Virginia enacted a law requiring the Virginia State Board of Education to develop regulations limiting the use of involuntary seclusion and restraint as tools to maintain order in public school classrooms. The state now is close to finalizing the regulations, reports Community Ideas Stations.
Putting students in isolation or employing mechanical constraints should be used only “when there is a serious danger to the child or to others in the environment,” says Colleen Miller with the Disability Law Center of Virginia.
How widespread is the practice? In 2015 Chesterfield County reported secluding students a total of 80 times, and restraining students a total of 29 times. Henrico reported six instances of seclusion and 21 of restraint; the City of Richmond reported zero instances of seclusion and 41 of restraint. However, a public radio investigation suggests that actions are under-reported. An investigation uncovered hundreds of instances that never got reported in Fairfax County in 2015. Also, Powhatan and Hanover County public reported no cases to federal authorities.
Furthermore, civil rights advocates worry that the new regulations are still too tough. They don’t explicitly prohibit the practice of restraining students by placing them face down. Also, notes Rachael Deane with the Legal Aid Justice Center, “We are concerned that a student — even if they’re not physically prevented from leaving — if they don’t realize they’re free to leave, then there’s still a seclusion type situation going on.”
Bacon’s bottom line: These new regulations follow the implementation of new policies in school districts across the state designed to limit the referral of students to law enforcement and to limit the use of short-term and long-term suspensions as disciplinary measures. Instead, schools are moving toward a more therapeutic approach that emphasizes counseling troubled students and collaborating with parents. If the new disciplinary philosophy proves to be ineffective, schools will have fewer tools to maintain order in the hallways and classrooms.
Here’s a prediction: As teachers and administrators are increasingly deprived of tools for punishing disruptive behavior, order in the classroom will continue to deteriorate. It is the nature of children to push the limits of acceptable behavior. If parents and adult authorities fail to establish clear boundaries with consequences, children will continue pushing until they find boundaries. If students know there are no sanctions for disruptive behavior, no amount of counseling and guidance will deter them. When students make the rules, we end up with the Lord of the Flies.There are currently no comments highlighted.