New Law Protects Students with Disabilities

January 18, 2018

Requires long overdue regulations, limitations for use of restraint and seclusion

Bill Number: S1163/A501

Description: Establishes certain requirements for use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities in school districts, educational services commissions, and approved private schools for students with disabilities.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40), Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3), Assemblyman David Russo (R-40), Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3), and other legislators was signed into law by Governor Christie on January 15, 2018. Where there are currently no regulations that govern the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, this new law establishes protections for students and much-needed requirements for the use of restraint and seclusion.

Understanding the New Restraint Law

Autism New Jersey actively advocated for this law since the bill’s introduction in February 2016. We recommended several amendments to strengthen the bill, provided testimony, and served as a resource for legislators and their staff. This law will directly benefit students with disabilities and their teachers by providing clear guidance on when restraint and seclusion should be and should not be used, how they should be monitored and documented, and how those who are responsible for implementation are to be trained.

“There is currently no state policy that regulates the use of restraint and seclusion for students with disabilities in public or private schools. This bill provides the guidance needed to ensure that schools that are using restraint and seclusion are doing so in a manner that is safe, warranted, transparent, and accountable,” said Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Autism New Jersey Executive Director.

The day-to-day reality in many schools is that some students with disabilities do engage in severe challenging behavior which can put themselves and others in imminent danger. There are effective methods and techniques to decrease or prevent severe challenging behavior (e.g., Applied Behavior Analysis, Positive Behavior Supports, de-escalation techniques), but when situations arise in which these methods and techniques are not effective, the judicious – and regulated – use of restraint and seclusion can aid in ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

This law will provide the necessary and overdue regulations and standards that schools need to keep everyone safe in emergent situations. With the proper monitoring, documentation, and analysis of data required under this law, we can examine the use of restraint and seclusion and work towards their reduction and elimination.

Governor Christie also signed into law S-3554, which will expand the current federal and state background check requirement for agencies that serve individuals with developmental disabilities and S-3555, which exempts certain motor vehicles that provide service to persons with developmental disabilities from motor vehicle registration fees.

Read the full law>>

DOE Guidance

Restraint and Seclusion Guidance for Students with Disabilities – July 2018

Update: Mandatory Restraint and Seclusion Data Collection/Student Safety Data System Opening – December 2022

Have concerns and questions?

Restraint and seclusion are some of the most worrisome and potentially dangerous procedures used in school settings. These procedures raise many legitimate questions and concerns, and you have a right to answers. If you have concerns about this new law or the use of these procedures – for your child or in your school – you can call us to learn about this new law, current regulations regarding students’ rights, and best practices in behavior support. We welcome your questions and input.

Thank Our Legislators

Does this bill make a difference to you? Thank the sponsors for making it happen!

  • Senator Kristin M. Corrado (R-40)
  • Senator Stephen M. Sweeney (D-3)
  • Assemblyman David C. Russo (R-40)*
  • Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-3)
  • Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16)
  • Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight (D-31)
  • Senator Kevin J. O’Toole (R-40)*
  • Senator Anthony R. Bucco (R-25)

*Term ended