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A Family Guide to the Use of Emergency Safety Interventions (Seclusion and restraint) in Kansas

What are Emergency Safety Interventions?

Emergency Safety Interventions (ESI) are seclusion and restraint that are used when the student presents a reasonable and immediate danger of physical harm to self or others.

What is Seclusion?

Seclusion means placement of a student in a location where all the following conditions are met:

1. the student is placed in an enclosed area by school personnel;

2. the student is purposefully isolated from other adults and peers; and,

3. the student is prevented from leaving, or the student reasonably believes that such student will be prevented from leaving, the enclosed area.

4. Time-out is not the same as seclusion. Time-out is when a student is temporarily removed from the learning activity, but is not confined.

What is Restraint?

Restraint can take form in different ways. The definition of physical restraint is bodily force used to substantially limit a student's movement. The use of prone physical restraint (face-down) and supine physical restraint (face-up) are prohibited. Physical restraint may not obstruct the airway of the student or impact the student's primary mode of communication.

Mechanical restraint is defined as any device or object used to limit a person's movement. The use of mechanical restraint is prohibited in Kansas except those protective or stabilizing devices ordered by a person appropriately licensed to issue the order for the device. Mechanical restraint used by a law enforcement officer in carrying out law enforcement duties is allowed. Seatbelts and/or other safety equipment when used to secure students during transportation are also allowed.

Chemical restraint is prohibited in Kansas. A student may take prescribed treatments for a medical or psychiatric condition when they are prescribed by a person who is properly licensed to prescribe medication.

Consensual, solicited, or unintentional contact and contact to provide comfort, assistance, or instruction is not physical restraint.

When May Emergency Safety Intervention be Used?

May only be used when a student presents a reasonable and immediate danger of physical harm to self or others with the present ability to cause physical harm.

Less restrictive alternatives, such as positive behavior interventions support, must be deemed inappropriate or ineffective under the circumstances by the school employee witnessing the student's behavior prior to the use of any ESIs.

The use of ESI must stop as soon as the immediate danger of physical harm ends.

ESI cannot be used for purposes of discipline, punishment, or for the convenience of a school employee.

Students with a known medical condition.

  • An emergency safety intervention may not be used with a student if the student is known to have a medical condition that could put the student in mental or physical danger as a result of the emergency safety intervention.
  • The existence of such medical condition must be indicated in a written statement from the student's licensed health care provider, a copy of which shall be provided to the school and placed in the student's file.
  • The written statement must include an explanation of the student's diagnosis, a list of any reasons why an emergency safety intervention would put the student in mental or physical danger and any suggested alternatives to the use of emergency safety interventions.
  • An emergency safety intervention may still be used if not subjecting the student to an emergency safety intervention would result in significant physical harm to the student or others.

Parents should be proactive and provide the district with written documentation from their child's licensed health care provider outlining any medical condition that could put the student in mental or physical danger as a result of the ESI. You may use this form if you wish, .

When Must a Parent be Notified an ESI has been Used?

  • The school must notify the parent the same day the ESI was used. If the school is unable to contact the parent, the school shall attempt to contact the parent using at least two methods of contact.
  • Written documentation of the ESI used must be completed and provided to the parent no later than the school day following the day on which the emergency safety intervention was used. Written documentation must include:
  • The events leading up to the incident;
  • student behaviors necessitating the ESI
  • steps taken to transition the student back into the educational setting
  • the date and time the incident occurred, the type of ESI used, the duration of the ESI and the school personnel who used or supervised the ESI
  • space or an additional form for parents to provide feedback or comments to the school regarding the incident
  • a statement that invites and strongly encourages parents to schedule a meeting to discuss the incident and how to prevent future use of ESIs
  • School email and phone contact for the parent to schedule the ESI meeting.
  • The parent must be provided with the following information in writing or, upon the parent's written request, by email, after the first ESI incident in a school year and provided with this information after subsequent ESI incidents through a web address:
  • A copy of the standards of when ESI can be used;
  • A flyer on the parent's rights under ESI law;
  • Information on the parent's right to file a complaint through the local dispute resolution process and the complaint process of the Kansas State Board of Education; and
  • Information that will assist the parent in navigating the complaint process, including contact information for Families Together, Inc. and the Disability Rights Center of Kansas.

Are There Requirements for Meetings Following an Emergency Safety Intervention?

The written documentation of an emergency safety intervention incident must contain:

  • a statement that invites and strongly encourages parents to schedule a meeting to discuss the incident and how to prevent future use of emergency safety interventions; and
  • email and phone information for the parent to contact the school to schedule the emergency safety intervention meeting.

After an emergency safety intervention incident, a parent may request a meeting with the school to discuss and debrief the incident. A parent may request such meeting verbally, in writing, or by electronic means. The focus of any meeting convened shall be to discuss proactive ways to prevent the need for emergency safety interventions and to reduce incidents in the future.

If a parent requests a meeting the meeting must be called within 10 school days. The time for calling this meeting shall be extended beyond the 10 school day limit if the parent is unable to attend within that time period.

What are the Emergency Safety Intervention Meeting Requirements for Students Parentally Placed in Private Schools?

For students who have an individualized education program (IEP) and are placed in a private school by a parent, a meeting called by the parent must include the parent and the private school, who shall consider whether the parent should request an IEP team meeting. If the parent requests an IEP team meeting, the private school must help facilitate such meeting.

Are Students Required to Attend the Meeting?

The parent shall determine whether the student shall be invited to any meeting.

A Focus on Prevention

Why focus on Positive Interventions?

Positive Interventions help build positive relationships and encourage new behaviors. Positive interventions also reinforce new skills and increase self-satisfaction and optimism among students, parents and teachers. All students need to be recognized and rewarded when they are meeting the expectations that have been established. Current research suggests positive recognition (rewards, reinforcements, praise) must occur more frequently than negative recognition. A well-developed behavior intervention plan should include many positive interventions in order to effectively change behavior. The first consideration should be the appropriateness of the interventions. The team should select interventions that are based upon the student's developmental level, motor ability, communication mode and other factors relevant to the student and the disability. Environmental and context related factors should also be considered. These might include things such as classroom seating, noise levels, peer issues, instruction that is too hard or too easy, transitions, and changes in the setting.

Functional Behavioral Assessments

All behaviors are functional and are maintained in environments that support them. If your child's behavior impedes the learning of self or others, you can request a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). An FBA can help teams determine the when, where, how and why problematic behavior occurs. A comprehensive FBA includes interviews, record reviews, observation and data collection, graphing data collected, testing hypotheses, curriculum analysis, implementation of interventions and evaluation of effectiveness of the plan. FBAs should identify antecedents (what happens just before the behavior occurs), a clearly defined picture of the behavior that is occurring, and the reinforcers (what happens just after the behavior occurs). Teams need to determine what the function of the behavior is so that they may provide successful interventions or teach replacement behaviors that meet the same function for the student.

An FBA can be conducted at any time for a student who does not respond to school-wide behavioral interventions. Following the assessment, a behavior intervention plan may be developed. As a parent, you have the right to request an FBA.

The Function of the Behavior

A Focus on Prevention

Behavior Intervention Plans

Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) should focus on proactive strategies to support students, including positive behavior interventions and supports. BIPs should be positive and instructive and based upon a functional behavioral assessment. A BIP should address:

  • The function of the behavior
  • Effective teaching of the expected behavior
  • Rewards and consequences that are meaningful to the student
  • Opportunities to self-manage behaviors
  • Teach appropriate replacement behaviors

Replacement Behaviors

A replacement behavior is when a student replaces an inappropriate behavior with an appropriate one that continues to serve the same function for the student. When selecting replacement behaviors, the team should address the following questions:

  • Does the replacement behavior work as well as the challenging behavior in meeting the student's needs?
  • Will it be an acceptable alternative to the challenging behavior?
  • Will the replacement behavior be something the student will choose to do and that his or her family and teachers support?
  • Will the replacement behavior help build a positive reputation for the student?

Students should be recognized and rewarded for choosing to utilize replacement behaviors to be most effective.

The Kansas State Department of Education

  • does not promote the use of emergency safety intervention with any student;
  • recommends a focus on prevention;
  • stresses that emergency safety intervention is not part of a tiered intervention system or student behavior plan - it is only to be used in an emergency and that
  • emergency safety interventions are reactive strategies and do not decrease the likelihood of a behavior from occurring.

If your child has a history of seclusion and restraint or challenging behavior, he or she could be eligible for additional supports and interventions. Parents are welcome to contact Families Together, Inc. to discuss possible options.

Where can I find out more information about Emergency Safety Interventions (Seclusion and Restraint)?

Families Together, Inc.

Topeka Parent Center


Wichita Parent Center


Garden City Parent Center


Kansas Parent Information Resource Center (KPIRC)


Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE)