Washington State Law on Use of Restraints and Seclusion‏

Dear Dr Nyland and Board Directors

The Washington State Legislature passed new legislation in the last session to prohibit aversive intervention plans, and to limit the use of isolation and restraint to situations in which there is an imminent likelihood of serious harm. The new law went into effect as of July 24, 2015.

At the Special Education PTSA meeting on Monday, September 28, 2015, SPS administrators were asked what training the District had provided to staff over the summer regarding the new law. We were concerned about the response as it indicated that SPS did not want to get ahead of itself implementing the new law until OSPI had issued final rules explaining what the new law means.

While the OSPI rulemaking process will provide additional guidance, the law is in effect now and needs to be enforced now – in fact, OSPI has advised districts not to wait for OSPI rulemaking.1

On behalf of all parents in SPS who have children receiving special education services, the Seattle Special Education PTSA urges you to immediately ensure that all principals, assistant principals, security personnel and special education staff, at a minimum, are fully aware of the new law and its significant restriction on the circumstances under which school staff are legally permitted to use restraint and isolation. In addition, we believe it is incumbent upon the Special Education Department to audit IEPs, identify all IEPs that include aversive intervention plans and call IEP team meetings to remove those plans and ensure that restraint and isolation are not used as methods of discouraging undesirable behavior when there is no imminent risk of harm – as required now by Washington law. This is a major compliance issue.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to partnering with you in the implementation of the new law, and in the identification of proactive, positive behavioral supports to replace the use of restraint and isolation in non-emergency situations.


Cecilia McCormick

Janis White
Parent Advocate

Lori Hiltz

Ayn McNutt

Michael Minard

Mary Griffin
Legislative Chair

1. http://www.k12.wa.us/bulletinsmemos/Memos2015/M050-15.doc “In the meantime, districts are encouraged to review existing IEPs and 504 plans and remove restraint and isolation provisions or aversive interventions, unless there is a likelihood of an emergency situation that may result in serious harm (emphasis added)”.