Impact Policy: Restraint & Seclusion

Restraint & Seclusion in Schools: Improving Wisconsin Law

In 2012, Wisconsin passed Act 125 to regulate the use of restraint and seclusion in our schools.  Experiences of schools and families since then have shown where we need to make improvements to the law. In February 2016, Wisconsin Family Ties (WFT), Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) and WI FACETS released a report called Seclusion & Restraint in Wisconsin Public School Districts 2013-2014: Miles to Go that highlighted how often restraint and seclusion are still being used in our schools.
  • Restraint and seclusion were used over 20,000 times statewide in 2013/14
  • Nearly 80% of the students involved were students with disabilities.
Many of the recommendations in the report were included in a bi-partisan bill that was introduced in 2018.  (Unfortunately, the session ended before the bill could pass). The bill would make the following improvements:
  • Require that restraint and seclusion data be reported to DPI as well as school boards (under current law, only school boards receive the data)
  • Require schools to convey a written incident report to parents, including the names & titles of covered individuals and law enforcement officers present (current law only requires that parents be notified that the report exists, and does not require law enforcement officer’s names to be included)
  • Remove the requirement that IEP teams decide whether restraint/seclusion is likely to be used a second time
  • Require that the principal meet with the staff who participated in the incident to discuss the sequence of events and strategies to prevent future incidents
  • Explicitly prohibit prone restraint
  • Clarify that incidents involving law enforcement officers must be reported in a district’s data, even though law enforcement officers are not defined as “covered individuals” in the restraint/seclusion statute
  • Specify that the restraint and seclusion law applies also to students who are district-placed into private schools
  • Clarify the definition of “incident” for data reporting purposes
  • Update the training requirements for an increased focus on de-escalation, and remove the requirement (but not prohibit) the teaching of “hands-on” techniques.
We look forward to re-introducing the bill in 2019 and moving forward with these much-needed improvements. Join the WFT email list for policy updates and action alerts, including on the restraint and seclusion bill! Send your request in an email message to: