Falmouth schools adopt new policies on use of physical restraint

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FALMOUTH — The School Board prepared for the start of the school year at a meeting Tuesday night.

Among other things, the board voted 7-0 to approve policies governing the use of physical restraint and seclusion of students, despite concerns voiced by several board members.

The Maine Department of Education recently revised its policies for restraint and seclusion, and public schools are required to comply with the revised policies.

The state rules establish new standards for permitted uses of restraint and seclusion, as well as requirements for documentation and reporting of incidents where these measures are used.

Board member Chris Murry said he applauds the intent of the new policies, but has concerns about the the higher threshold they establish before school staff can restrain or seclude a student in an emergency. He also called the documentation requirements under the state policy “exorbitant.”

“We can disagree with (the state policies), but we must comply,” he said.

The changes were developed and mandated after a series of award-winning stories published by The Forecaster beginning in July 2010 that uncovered questionable use of so-called therapeutic restraints in Maine schools.  

In other business, the board approved the appointment of more than 50 school staff to leadership positions at the town’s elementary, middle and high schools.

The board also accepted a $10,725 gift of outdoor banners from the Falmouth Soccer Boosters. The banners will promote the high school’s teams in every sport, and will be displayed on the school’s athletic fields.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.