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Changes proposed for student restraint and seclusion policy

Stafford school officials are reviewing how much time they have before notifying a parent their child was restrained at school.

The county board will entertain changes to its student restraint and seclusion policy. Under the proposal, a school must report a restraint of a child to a parent “as soon as practical…shall make a reasonable effort that direct contact is made with the parent…”

Under the current policy, parents and the school principal are to be notified on the day of the incident. Also under the proposal, the principal will have two days to review the restraint incident to “discuss whether the use of the restaurant was appropriate…”

A parent is to receive a full report of an incident within seven days of the incident, according to the policy.

The proposed changes to the policy come as the Virginia School Board amended its rules, requiring school divisions to have written policies in place by Jan. 1, 2021.

The new state regulations require school boards to have specific policies and procedures in place to govern restraint and/or seclusion. Proposed new policy 2421, Restraint and Seclusion of Students, provides responsibility to the Superintendent to implement regulations in accordance with the new Virginia Board of Education regulations.

Stafford schools do not allow teachers to seclude students, which means putting them in a closed room, preventing them from leaving, according to the existing policy. However, educators are allowed to separate a student from the rest of the class and putting them in a “time-out” scenario.

Under the current policy, there are only five reasons why students should be restrained:

1. Prevent a student from inflicting serious physical harm or injury to self or others;
2. Quell a disturbance or remove a student from the scene of a disturbance in which such student’s behavior or damage to property threatens serious physical harm or injury to persons;
3. Defend self or others from serious physical harm or injury;
4. Obtain possession of controlled substance or paraphernalia that are upon the person of the student or within the student’s control; or
5. Obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects
that are upon the person of the student or within the student’s control.

The Stafford County School Board meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the county government center, located at 1300 Courthouse Road.

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