#childsafety | Illinois Association Of School Boards Director On Restraint And Isolation Ban: ‘It’s A Challenge’

The Illinois Legislature is drafting a bill to end physical restraints and isolation in classrooms.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, would prohibit the use of prone restraint, one type of physical restraint for behavioral protectiveness, and isolated time-outs unless a student is an imminent danger to the student or others.

Thomas Bertrand, executive director for the Illinois Association of School Boards, agrees with restraint and isolation causing psychological distress and supports the bill.

“I think it’s safe to say if a student is repeatedly subjected to isolated time-out or physical restraint that that would obviously have an impact on the child. Any child would be adversely impacted by that,” he said.

There is also physical risk involved for both staff and students in implementing those measures, Bertrand stated.

“Any time for example a student must be restrained there’s an opportunity for someone to be injured, staff or the student,” he said.

A successful law to ban isolation and physical restraints in schools is a delicate balancing act, according to Bertrand.

The practical side of implementation when some students in the classroom have extraordinary special needs and safety concerns complicates matters.

“I think that’s the challenge,” Bertrand said.

The bill lawmakers are working on contains a few exceptions to aid the process of implementation, such as if a school has not used either of these in the last three years, they would be exempt.

Bertrand says lawmakers have done a good job developing the bill alongside advice from those who would have to implement it.

“I think the sponsors did a very nice job of engaging the various stakeholders that work with children in the schools to make this bill the best version of it that it can be,” he said.

Bertrand says the more tools we can give teachers on how to avoid using isolated timeouts and physical restraints the better.

“As long as school boards and school districts have tools available to them to meet the needs of children it’s a good thing,” he said.

The focus of the work of The Center Square Illinois is state- and local-level government and economic reporting that approaches stories with a taxpayer sensibility. For more stories from The Center Square, visit TheCenterSquare.com.

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