The Shrewsbury Public Schools complies with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) restraint regulations, 603 CMR 46.00 et seq.(“Regulations”), to the extent required by law. According to their terms, the Regulations apply not only at school but also at school-sponsored events and activities, whether or not on school property. A brief overview of the Regulations is provided below.

Physical restraint, including prone restraint where permitted, shall be considered an emergency procedure of last resort except when a student’s behavior poses a threat of assault, or imminent, serious, physical harm to self or others and the student is not responsive to verbal directives or other lawful and less intrusive behavior interventions, or such interventions are deemed to be inappropriate under the circumstances.

The district shall have procedures for restraint prevention and behavior supports regarding appropriate responses to student behavior that may require immediate intervention. These procedures will be reviewed annually and provided to program staff and made available to parents of enrolled students.

Physical restraint shall not be used:

  • As a means of discipline or punishment.
  • When the student cannot be safely restrained because it is medically contraindicated for reasons including but not limited to asthma, seizures, cardiac condition, obesity, bronchitis, communication-related disabilities, or risk of vomiting.
  • As a response to property destruction, disruption of school order, a student's refusal to comply with a program rule or staff directive, or verbal threats when those actions do not constitute a threat of assault, or imminent, serious, physical harm; or
  • As a standard response for any individual student. No written individual behavior plan or individualized education program (IEP) will include use of physical restraint as a standard response to any behavior. Physical restraint is an emergency procedure of last resort.
  • Prone restraint is prohibited in Shrewsbury programs except on an individual student basis, and only when (1) the student has a documented history of repeatedly causing serious injuries to self or other students or staff; (2) all other forms of physical restraints to ensure the safety of the student and/or others have been attempted but failed; (3) there are no medical contraindications documented by a licensed physician instructing against such restraint; (4) there is psychological or behavioral contraindications as documented by a licensed mental health professional; (5) the program has consent to use such restraint in emergency situations as set out here and the Principal has approved such use in writing; and (6) the program documented steps 1-5 in advance of using such restraint, and maintains said documentation. 
  • Mechanical restraint and medication restraint is prohibited.
  • Seclusion means the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving.  Seclusion does not incude time-out.

Time-out is not prohibited. Time-out means a behavioral support strategy developed pursuant to 603 CMR 46.04(1) in which a student temporarily separates from the learning activity or the classroom, either by choice or by direction from staff, for the purpose of calming. During time-out, a student will be continuously observed by a staff member. Staff will be with the student or immediately available to the student at all times. The space used for time-out will be clean, safe, sanitary, and appropriate for the purpose of calming. Time-out will cease as soon as the student has calmed. If a student has not calmed and the time-out may need to exceed 30 minutes, the principal or designee must be contacted in order to approve extending the time-out beyond this timeframe.

The Regulations do not prevent a teacher, employee or agent of the district from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons or themselves from assault or imminent serious harm or from restraining students as otherwise provided in the Regulations.

At the beginning of each school year, the principal of each building or his or her designee will identify program staff who are authorized to serve as a school-wide resource to assist in ensuring proper administration of physical restraint. These staff must have participated or will participate in in-depth training in the use of physical restraint.

Such training shall be competency-based and at least 16 hours in length, with refresher training occurring annually thereafter.


Specific Reporting Requirements:

  1. Informing the principal. The school staff member who administered the restraint shall verbally inform the principal of the restraint as soon as possible, and by written report no later than the next school working day. If the principal administered the restraint, the principal shall prepare the report and submit it to an individual or team designated by the superintendent for review. 
  2. Informing parents. The principal will make reasonable efforts to verbally inform the student's parents of the restraint as soon as possible, and no more than 24 hours following the event, and will also notify the parent by written report sent either within three school working days of the restraint to an email address provided by the parent for communications about the student, or by regular mail postmarked no later than three school working days of the restraint. If the parent of a student receives report cards and other necessary school-related information in a language other than English, the written restraint report will be provided to the parent or guardian in that language. The principal will provide the student and the parent an opportunity to comment orally and in writing on the use of the restraint and on information in the written report.
  3. Contents of the report: The written report must include the information required in the Regulations, 603 CMR 46.06(4). 
  4. Individual student review. The principal of the program will conduct a weekly review of restraint data in order to identify students who have been restrained multiple times during the week.  For students identified from this review, the principal shall convene one or more review teams to assess the student’s progress and needs. If the principal participated in the restraint, an individual designated by the superintendent shall lead the review team’s discussion.
  5. Administrative review. The principal will conduct a monthly review of school-wide restraint data. Based on that review, the principal will determine whether it is necessary to modify the school’s restrain policy, conduct any additional staff training, or other action as necessary to reduce or eliminate such restraints. 
  6. Report all restraint-related injuries to the Department. When a physical restraint has resulted in an injury to a student or staff member, the principal will send a copy of the written report to the Department postmarked no later than three (3) school working days of the administration of the restraint. The principal will also send the Department a copy of the record of physical restraints maintained by the principal for the 30-day period prior to the date of the reported restraint.
  7. Report all physical restraints to the Department. Every school will collect and annually report data to the Department regarding use of physical restraints in a manner and form directed by the Department Complaints. Complaints and investigations regarding restraint practices are covered by District Policy 132, Steps for Handling Complaints. 

Additional information 

The above procedures and guidelines will be reviewed annually with school personnel and shared with students and parents. A copy of the regulations can be obtained from the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, who can be reached at (508) 841-8660.

A copy of the Regulations from DESE may also be obtained at the following website:

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