Updates on Weber Law: Transparency Required in Restraint and Seclusion Data for LEAs
Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1466 on October 8, 2023. This law seeks to increase transparency by allowing members of the public easy access to information relevant to the control of student behavior in school environments. All local educational agencies (LEAs) are now to post on their websites the same data related to restraint and seclusion that they are currently required to share annually, with the California Department of Education (CDE).
What Does AB 1446 Add to Existing Law?
Existing law limits the use of restraint and seclusion by school personnel. It also requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to annually collect data and report to the CDE specific information about the use of behavioral restraints and seclusion in schools. California Education Code section 49006 requires that no later than three months after the end of a school year, LEAs must submit a report to CDE that includes:
- The number of students subjected to mechanical restraint;
- The number of students subjected to physical restraint;
- The number of students subjected to seclusion;
- The number of times mechanical restraint was used on students;
- The number of times physical restraint was used on students; and
- The number of times seclusion was used on students.
This information must be separated by race or ethnicity and gender, with separate counts for students with Section 504 plans and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and those without such plans.
AB 1446 amends section 49006(c) to require that LEAs also annually post the data collected and reported to CDE, on their individual internet websites. This information must be posted within 3 months of submitting their annual reports to CDE. LEAs remain obligated to make the data collected and reported available as a public record.
Continuing Concerns over Disparities in Use of Restraints
The U.S. Department of Education continues to urge that states, districts, and schools examine data disparities including gender, race, national origin, disability status and type of disability, and limited English proficiency when reviewing existing policies and procedures on the use of restraint and seclusion. It recommends that such reviews be used to determine whether policies are being properly followed, whether procedures are being implemented as intended, and whether school staff should receive additional training on the proper use of restraint and seclusion or positive behavioral interventions and supports.
CDE released restraint and seclusion data for the 2021-22 school year on December 15, 2022. A number of organizations at that time raised concerns that students of color and disabled students were disproportionately represented and called for additional transparency by LEAs. The amendments to section 49006(c) serve as one effort in making information more widely available for review by families and other interested parties.
We expect behavior intervention to remain a topic of interest. Lingering concerns remain among certain groups that existing law which carves out exceptions for the use of mechanical and physical restraints by peace officers or security personnel used for detention or for public safety purposes has a disparate impact on students of color and students with disabilities. Easier access to information may result in increased attention from individual parents as well as school community groups concerned about the nondiscriminatory application of behavioral interventions. We urge LEAs to carefully monitor their data and compliance with current law as information is compiled, particularly with respect to minority groups.
IEP and Section 504 Teams should also not wait to reconvene to discuss behavior that is impeding a student’s success at school, and which may require the use of restraint or seclusion. Teams should continue to carefully consider the supports and services required for students to receive a free and appropriate public education and that all staff who may need to support a student are adequately trained to help ensure student safety when significant interventions are required.
LEAs should also monitor the status of Senate Bill 483 (“SB 483”) which is currently in the Senate Education Committee. If enacted, this bill would prohibit the use of prone restraint for any period by LEAs, charter schools, the State Special Schools for the Blind and the Deaf, and nonpublic schools and agencies.
We encourage you to contact the authors of this Alert or their regular counsel at AALRR with questions regarding this Alert.