The Restraint and Seclusion of Students With a Disability: Examining Trends in US School Districts and Their Policy Implications

Academic Article


  • Restraint and seclusion are possible aversive responses to problematic student behavior used in some public schools, most commonly on students with a disability. Considerable recent attention has been paid to these practices both in the media and in Congress, and subsequently roughly half of U.S. states have made changes to their laws or policy statements around restraint and seclusion since 2009. In this article, we illuminate trends in restraint and seclusion across the United States in recent years to better inform policy discussions on these matters. Specifically, we examined rates of reported restraint and seclusion across U.S. districts in the 2009–2010 and 2011–2012 school years. We found that general trends persist between the data collections: Most districts report no/little use of restraint or seclusion, with a small percentage of districts reporting exceedingly high rates. Furthermore, the vast majority of variation exists within rather than between states, which may suggest the importance of local factors such as district policy, school culture, and practitioner support in determining the frequency of restraint and seclusion in schools.
  • Authors

  • Gagnon, Douglas J
  • Mattingly, Marybeth J
  • Connelly, Vincent
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • September 2017
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • civil rights
  • discipline
  • policy
  • restraint
  • seclusion
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 66
  • End Page

  • 76
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 2