A school district policy on the use of physical restraint and seclusion rooms passed first reading with little discussion but an affirmation there will be an opportunity for public comment on the policy.
The school district’s use of a locked seclusion room gained national media attention in the case of Deacon Graham, a seven-year-old with Down Syndrome, who was placed in such a room on more than one occasion without the consent of his parents.
Following the incident, the school district issued a statement, that no child is ever left unsupervised when in a seclusion room and is monitored through a window in the door.
A few days after the story broke, the B.C Ministry of Education released new guidelines that cover the use of seclusion in schools. The guidelines say that “physical restraint and seclusion are used only in exceptional circumstances where a student is in imminent danger of causing harm to self or others.”
The province said the new guidelines have been in the works for over a year and a half.
School trustee Barry Chafe told the board the school district policy is designed to bring the school district in line with the provincial policy.
Superintendent Glenn Borthistle told the board the new policy incorporates many elements the school district is already following.
‘There will be a full review and then it will come back for second reading. As always, public comments are welcome as part of the process,” said Borthistle.
The school district policy includes provisions that staff involved in a situation involving restraint or seclusion be trained and that parents will be informed when these interventions are used.