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Coming Into the Light - Restraint Report cover, image of Large room with 3 separate doors leading to holding rooms.

In 2018 DRW began monitoring the use of isolation and restraint in schools across Washington state. Seeing disparity and overuse, in 2019, DRW and the ACLU-WA began collaborating on this report. DRW conducted over 140 interviews with students, teachers, principals, parents and other school personnel, reviewed school documents, research, state laws, and did an extensive data analysis of Washington data.

Report findings show that restraint and isolation have no educational or therapeutic benefits but have profound disabling effects and result in lifelong harm, especially for students with disabilities who are low-income, live in foster care or are homeless, are Black or multiracial, and are in Kindergarten or elementary school. Importantly, states, districts, and schools have eliminated isolation and drastically reduced restraint use with staff development and coaching, incident review/debrief teams, school board review, and data tracking/analysis.

A legislatively-mandated workgroup simultaneously explored evidence based programs to eliminate isolation and reduce physical restraint and produced their own report.

These report recommendations resulted in Washington legislation, SB 5559, regarding the use of isolation and restraint in schools, and it’s companion bill, HB 1479.   Legislation proposes elimination of isolation in Washington schools, and provides professional development and data collection requirements to track and reduce restraint use.

The Arc of King County has an easy-read guide related to chemical restraint:

See related coverage in the Seattle Times: Washington Schools still restrain and isolate students despite state laws.

Read the full report here: Coming Into the Light