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Seclusion and Physical Restraint

2019 Wisconsin Act 118 - Pupil Restraint and Seclusion

2019 Wis. Act 118, which revises Wisconsin state law on addressing the use of seclusion and restraint in schools, went into effect on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Some of the changes include requiring parents to be provided with a copy of the written incident report, clarifying that the notice and reporting requirements apply to incidents involving law enforcement officers, prohibiting the use of prone restraint, revising the required training components, requiring school staff to hold a meeting after each incident of seclusion or restraint to discuss topics specified in the Act, conducting an IEP team meeting within ten school days of the second time seclusion or restraint is used on a student with a disability within the same school year, and requiring each governing body to submit an annual report to DPI by December 1. This law applies to both students with and without disabilities.

Seclusion and Restraint Frequently Asked Questions (Revised 9/9/2021)

Seclusion and Restraint Data in Wisconsin

Data and Information Resources

AY 2019-2020 Statewide Pupil Seclusion and Restraint Data

Statewide school-level data on pupil seclusion and restraint during the 2019-2020 school year may be found in the file above. Keep in mind that this data does not reflect a full academic year, as all schools in Wisconsin were closed to in person instruction on March 18, 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Each record contains the total number of incidents of seclusion and restraint in a given school, as well as the number of students involved, disaggregated by students with disabilities. Data was collected by DPI from 10/1/2020 - 12/1/2020 via a Qualtrics survey administered to all District Administrators in Wisconsin. Please check back here soon for an official DPI report on this data.

Data Disclaimer: The DPI collects Seclusion and Restraint data required by 2019 Act 118, which does not include disaggregating by race or documentation of the involvement of law enforcement (including SROs). The DPI strongly encourages LEAs to collect, analyze and review this data to ensure practices, policies and procedures are equitable, appropriate and in the best interest of students. Information related to any school that has a student with disability population of less than five has been redacted in order to prevent the disclosure of personally identifiable information. Incidents in which both seclusion and restraint occurred simultaneously are counted as separate instances and therefore the total number of individual students involved in seclusion or restraint combined is unattainable due to issues of double counting. Similarly, the data does not confirm whether the same student was repeatedly secluded or restrained if n>1, although this can be inferred by dividing the number of incidents by the number of students involved.

For questions regarding pupil seclusion and restraint data, please contact Owen Tortora

Summary of Changes: This document provides a summary of the change made through 2019 Wis. Acct 118.

Comparison Chart Document: This document provides a side-by-side comparison of the new requirements compared to the requirements under the previous law, 2011 Wis. Act 125.

Resources for Practices that Support the Reduction of Seclusion and Restraint

  • School Based Mental Health Framework: Provides guidance and resources for schools to build a comprehensive system for support student mental health and wellness. Includes Needs Assessment, Planning Template and Referral Pathways guidance.

  • Trauma Sensitive Schools: By becoming a trauma sensitive school, schools can become a protective factor for students exposed to traumatic events and increase the social and emotional and academic skills of the entire school body.

  • Culturally Responsive Evidence Based Practices

  • Wisconsin Center for Resilient Schools: Looking for support to implement TSS, SEL and School Based Mental Health Systems? The WCRS provides coaching to school and district teams to strengthen student and adult resilience through equitable, comprehensive school-based mental health and trauma sensitive social emotional learning in order to promote academic success for every student.

  • College and Career Ready Individual Education Plans (CCR IEPs): For students with disabilities, an IEP based on the CCR IEP five beliefs of High Expectations, Culturally Responsive Practices, Student Relationships, Family & Community Engagement and Collective Responsibility is designed to identify and meet student learning needs through appropriate individualized services.

  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Provides the essentials for implementing a comprehensive approach to SEL.

In May 2012, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education released Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document. The document identifies 15 principles for States, local school districts, preschool, elementary, and secondary schools, parents, and other stakeholders to consider when developing and implementing policies and procedures related to physical restraint and seclusion.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) issued a joint memo on March 13, 2009 entitled Prohibited Practices in the Application of Emergency Safety Interventions with Children and Adolescents in Community Based Programs and Facilities. Prohibited practices include prone restraints as well as other techniques.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) supports the information contained in these Department of Health Services memos: 

Please review these memos if you have not already done so and be sure staff is familiar with its contents.

For questions about this information, contact Tim Peerenboom (608)266-1999