All students have the right to feel safe and be treated with dignity in school. Research shows that the use of restraint and seclusion for students is an ineffective disciplinary tactic that is disproportionally used on students with disabilities and students of color, hurting some of our most vulnerable children rather than protecting them. That’s why the ACLU supports Senate Bill 46, a bill that requires South Dakota school districts to adopt a policy limiting the use of restraint and seclusion.

SB 46 would require the state’s school districts to adopt or revise policies that prohibit the use of prone restraint, prohibit the locking of a student alone in a room, require same-day notification of a parent or guardian when restraint or seclusion is used, and require staff training on crisis prevention and the proper use of restraint and seclusion.

The bill would require the state’s school districts to adopt or revise their policies on restraint and seclusion with specific provisions:

  • The policy must require the district to notify a student’s parent or guardian of an incident requiring the use of restraint or seclusion on the same business day, unless the student is emancipated.
  • The policy must prohibit the use of prone restraint, defined as physical pressure applied to any part of the student's body to keep the student in a face down position on the floor or other surface.
  • The policy must prohibit locking a student alone in a room.
  • The policy must require that staff is trained on crisis prevention and the proper use of restraint and seclusion.

The ACLU of South Dakota supports equal access to educational opportunities for people with disabilities. We promote an education system that is free from the use of punitive disciplinary methods such as corporal punishment and restraint and seclusion. This bill prohibits the use of the most dangerous type of restraints and ensures that students, parents, and schools are aware of school policy and that staff are property trained. That’s why we’re supporting SB 46, an effort to formally limit the use of restraint and seclusion in South Dakota schools.

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